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15 Tips for Mother's Day with a Military Mom

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Stanley Leary

Sunday is Mother’s Day -- normally a time for celebration.  But it's sometimes tough to celebrate when mom is home and the kids are serving overseas in the military.

So here are some suggestions on how to support a military mom from Dorie Griggs, a proud mother of a Citadel graduate currently serving in Afghanistan:

  • Help alleviate the stress of a mother with a deployed child by asking her to lunch or out to a fun social event.
  • Invite her over for a quiet cup of coffee and a chat. Let the mother of the deployed child guide the conversation.
  • Offer to send a care package to the deployed soldier or donate money to pay the postage. Strangers at Dorie’s hair salon donated enough money to send 96 rolls of soft toilet paper to her son’s unit serving at a remote Afghanistan outpost.
  • Tell the mother of a deployed solder that her child’s service is appreciated.
  • Volunteer with a military parents support group or help support their projects.

And, she says, there are things to avoid:

  • Don’t show up at the home of a deployed soldier unannounced because an unexpected knock at the door can cause momentary anxiety.
  • Don’t ask 'How do you handle it?' Dorie says that’s not helpful because she has no choice but to “handle” the deployment.
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Credit Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media
WUSF Public Media
Cyd Deathe co-founded a parents support group when her son joined the Marines nine years ago to help her cope.

When it comes to tips on what not to say to a Marine mom, Cyd Deathe, co-founder the Tampa Area Marine Parents Association, has a list:

  • Don’t say to a military mom, ‘Why did you let him join up?’ That’s one of Cyd’s biggest irritants because it totally dismisses that the child is an adult.
  • Don’t ask ‘When are they coming home?’ Cyd says, “Most of the time we don’t know. We can only hope and the more you hear it and the more you want it and the more you say it it’s not good.”
  • Don’t open a political discussion about the wars with the mother of a deployed military member because they cannot change the fact their child is deployed and possibly at risk.
  • Do be sensitive. “I had one military mom who took her son’s dress blues to the dry cleaners,” Cyd said. “And attendant asked her if she was getting them ready for him to be buried in them.”

Cyd’s son is no longer in the Marines, but she still leads the parent support group  that is open to all military parents. And she had some advice for parents of deployed service members:

  • Give up the crying because it makes them weak.
  • It’s not about you.
  • Don’t tell them that you miss them, they know that already.
  • Your job is to make them strong so they’re on point so they can do what they’ve got to do.
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