Essay by: Vanessa Goodwin, Army Spouse
In this age of political correctness every statement and every action seems to be over analyzed. Growing up military it was common place to be told to “pull up your big girl panties”, and yes we still see that statement made within the military spouse community every time someone complains about a deployment or separation. On the other hand, there seems to also be a movement towards making everything “sugar-coated” when it comes to dealing with military life.
How do we treat our fellow spouses with concern and respect without feeling like we are raising another child? How do tell them that all the benefits and comforts (I use that term lightly) that we as a military family have enjoyed for the last few years, are going to be diminished greatly. How do we learn to readjust to a finically downsizing military?
Well in all honesty, it’s going to be tough. The best medication is education. Perhaps it is best to go ahead teach them that, yes, they should have big-girl panties, (hopefully not thongs) and they, like all of us seasoned spouses, might need to use them. Give them the honest answers to the best of your ability, and if there are questions you don’t know the answers to, make sure to point them in the direction of the appropriate resources so they can become informed.
I have volunteered for organizations that don’t believe in saying anything negative, but sometimes the truth is hard and much needed. I truly believe that sometimes sugar-coating the truth only makes reality harder to bear. Sugar-coating, is meant to not scare people with all the negative out there, yet some of our biggest failures as a community have been when the sugar coating has worn away and they haven’t been prepared for the ugly. Give our newer spouses the truth and the tools… then be there to help them. I really believe that if we take this approach, we will watch them soar to heights that will make them strong, capable military spouses.
The difference between the two attitudes needs not be so far, give our young spouses sugar-coated big-girl panties! Show them the positive, the joys of our life… but also give them the tools and support to survive the trials and demons that all of us as spouses share.