When Dad is gone, and Mom is the only parent, things are different. Mom has a different style than Dad. Mom is probably not as much fun. And often, Mom is not as interested in sports. So Mom might be tempted to avoid sports programs during a deployment, and just wait until Dad is home to play catch with the kids and teach them the finer points of scoring. My advice? Don’t wait. There are a lot of benefits to sports teams. One that I hadn’t even realized until I was watching my kids at practice was this–there are dads on the team. The dads (mostly active duty service members) volunteer as coaches for the base MWR Youth Sports teams. These dads love sports, so they are hands-on and good teachers. They have kids on the team, so they know how to be patient with this age. And they have probably experienced deployment, so if your child breaks down and says, “I just can’t get it. AND my dad is gone!” Well, military dads have a good idea what to say.
Without sports activities during deployment, my kids would spend their entire day in a classroom with a female teacher, and then come home to me, their Mom. Most of my friends are other women, too. If it takes a village to raise a child, no one has ever suggested that the village should be only filled with women. Kids need to interact with dads, too! Kids can learn a lot from men, and also display a whole side of their character and personality that might not come out around mom. Obviously, I’m not suggesting that a soccer coach would ever replace dad. But I do think having a soccer coach to challenge, encourage, and instruct a child during a deployment is a very healthy thing. Plus, they do a lot more high fives and cheering than mom does, too!
If you aren’t convinced that sports if what you need in your already hectic deployment life, then here are some of the other benefits for your child:
- physical activity to gain healthier bones and muscles
- make new friends
- learn a new skill
- gain self-confidence
- have FUN!
- add structure to the weeks
- give you something to do on the weekends (go to games)
- be a part of a team, something bigger than yourself
- learn responsibility for your uniform and gear
- practice social skills like sharing, patience, and following directions
- improve hand-eye coordination
- learn new ways to play with siblings or in the backyard
So yes, I know that it is a lot of driving and a lot of time. And I’m not saying that I love every minute of being a soccer mom. BUT I do think that sports offer a really valuable experience for the kids. So as long as they enjoy them and keep getting great coaches, then we will keep signing up!
Do your kids do sports or other activities during deployments? Has your child ever formed a good relationship with any of their coaches?