What to prepare for as a sole-custody military parent

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Regardless of how you lost your significant other, raising a child as a single parent in the military can appear overwhelming. You may not know when you are going to get deployed and what will happen to your kids while you are away.

Given how unpredictable the circumstances are, you need to begin making a plan to ensure your loved ones are safe and cared for if you are deployed.

There is a good chance you will be asked to serve another base at some time, which will require you and your children to move. It can be hard on your children to switch states, attend new schools and meet new friends, so be honest and upfront with them and make sure they know what to expect with your position.

To prepare for the challenges, here are a couple of steps to take:

Find a caretaker

One of the more essential parts of your plan should be to find someone to look after your children when you are deployed or otherwise unavailable.

You can turn to family members or close and local friends. Inquire if they are willing to be the children’s guardian if you are asked to leave.

Even if you have made a lot of friends in the military, a fellow member cannot be appointed as the caretaker given their circumstances are the same as yours. Make sure to have backup ideas in case one of your planned caretakers will not be able to do it or you relocate and have to alter your plans.

Make a family care plan

Make sure your caretaker knows everything they need to know about your child, including:

  • what school do they go to
  • what their interests and daily activities are
  • any dietary restrictions or health problems
  • your financial situation
  • any documentation they might need for important events or appointments

It is honorable to be deployed to serve one’s country, but it is also a stressful time both for you as a parent and for your children. Make certain to research what types of benefits you can receive during deployment to help you and your family. Deployment benefits will significantly affect your child’s health care and education, so make sure to talk to a professional to figure out the best family care plan for you.