Military parents everywhere should know these 4 phrases
(Photo: US Marines, Lance Cpl. Paul S. Martinez)

By Elaine Brye

Do you feel like your military son or daughter is speaking a new language? It’s not just the alphabet soup mix of acronyms–TDY, PCS, AIT, OCS–or the slang terms they bandy about that can take a while to decode. I’m talking about a series of phrases that sneaked into their vernacular and reflect some of the deep cultural differences between the military world and mom’s kitchen. These are four phrases that can really trip moms (and dads) up.

1. “The [fill in the branch] issues everything you need; mothers are not an issued item.”

Translation: Mom, butt out. You have no place in the chain of command. Your calls are not welcomed. You are no longer in the decision-making loop.

If tears are beginning to sting or you are getting riled up at this statement, welcome to the club. This is part of letting go. It’s painful but necessary. I don’t have to like it, but it is making our kids stronger. The stronger they are, the more confidence I have in them, and the less I worry. It’s just tough to get used to initially.

2. “The needs of the [fill in the branch]…”

Every time I hear this I can guarantee I will shed tears. It usually means that leave has been cancelled and my best laid plans are blowing up.

Those sudden last-minute deployments also fit in this category. Deployments are hard to mentally prepare for, but when you add one with several weeks’ notice, it can take a while to recover. Remember that this is part of their vocation–they are standing by if needed and the needs of the service supersede their (and our) plans. It is a sacrifice that many of our civilian neighbors don’t understand.

3. “On a need-to-know basis…”

And, Momma, you don’t need to know!

That veil of silence can be maddening, frightening, and disconcerting all at the same time. We want to know what they are doing, where they are, and most importantly when they are coming home. The thought that we cannot be told can create a lot of stress. In times like these, I mutter, “No news is good news.”

4. “I’m on watch”/ “Pass is cancelled”

In Murphy’s laws for military moms, this happens when you have a visit planned or your child is planning to come home. Sometimes they military just needs them more than you do. Their first allegiance now is to their service. It does not help to have a temper tantrum (well, it might help you a little). It’s part of this new paradigm. They have bigger responsibilities now. That’s what makes us so proud of them. . . but it can be frustrating to a parent who was planning on some quality time with their son or daughter.

I am sure there are more phrases you can add to this list as you navigate the differences between civilian and military parenting. I have found that the sooner I learn to go with the flow, the better. I can waste needed energy resisting my new role in my children’s’ lives. . . or I can save up for the bigger challenges that come with military service. Although my job has changed, I can still do everything I can to support them and their buddies. They need to know that on a daily basis.