Being a parent comes with a long list of rewards...and challenges. When you're a military parent with young children, sometimes it can feel like you're just hanging on for dear life until the next naptime. But for military families, the saying, "it takes a village," couldn't be more accurate. Between the temper tantrums, spit-up soaked shirts and diaper disasters, you'll need all the help you can get.
Luckily, along with the people who make up your village — friends, neighbors, grandparents — you can also make the most of many free tools and resources available to military parents to help raise a safe, happy and healthy family.
Department of Defense resources
- The New Parent Support Program provides supportive home visits to expectant parents and parents of young children. You can get parenting tips and advice to help you make it through those first challenging years. For more information, contact your local Military and Family Support Center or Family Advocacy Program. Find contact information for those programs through MilitaryINSTALLATIONS.
- The Military OneSource Parenting page has lots of good information and tips on raising children. Topics cover everything from safe sleep environments and children's developmental milestones to having a baby when your spouse or partner is deployed.
- Military OneSource specialty consultations give parents a chance to speak with specialists with various areas of expertise. Thinking about adoption? Schedule a consultation. Looking for a support group? Schedule a consultation. And that's not all — specialty consultations are also available to cover these categories: Wounded Warrior, Special Needs, Adult and Elder Care, Education, and Health and Wellness coaching. Just call 800-342-9647.
- The Morale, Welfare and Recreation Digital Library has a huge variety of books for your children. You can download animated picture books to help your kids learn to read and build their vocabulary, and provide them with endless hours of entertainment. But don't worry, it's not just for the kids — there are books and magazines available for you to download, too.
Parenting newsletters and apps
- Parent Review — This weekly newsletter about pregnancy and parenting questions is available to new or expecting military families for free from the moment you or your spouse becomes pregnant until your child turns 3 year old.
- From Baby to Big Kid — This monthly eNewsletter from ZERO TO THREE, a nonprofit organization, takes a scientific approach to exploring how children learn and grow each month, from birth to 3 years old.
- Babies on the Homefront — This is a new free app from ZERO TO THREE just for military parents.
- Just In Time Parenting — You can download and print this eNewsletter, but subscribing also helps connect you with parenting experts around the country.
- Text4baby — This free mobile information service can help you have a healthy pregnancy. You'll receive three text messages per week tailored to your due date and your growing child.
Resources from partner organizations
- Sesame Workshop — Sometimes the tough lessons just sound better coming from Elmo. This multiphase outreach initiative uses videos, storybooks and workbooks to help kids through deployments, moves, combat-related injuries and the death of a loved one.
- ZERO TO THREE — This national nonprofit has many resources to support military families with young children under 3 years old. Check out the DVDs and activity books for your children or listen to the parenting podcast, "Little Kids, Big Questions."
- Focus on the Go — Family resilience isn't all fun and games, but that doesn't mean it can't still be fun. This app from Project FOCUS will hold your child's attention with fun games and activities, and simultaneously teach them how to better communicate their feelings. While you are on their site, check out other apps, like FOCUS World, providing online resiliency training for military families.
With these resources, you can build up your village and be ready to face any surprises parenting throws your way.