Who should be at a homecoming?
This seems to be a common debate/topic of discussion among military spouses as deployments start to come to an end.
I saw a debate online about it today, as I have seen many times in the past. There are typically two sides to the argument, immediate family only vs. extended family and friends okay
For those who think only spouses (and children) should be at homecoming argue that they are the most important and most affective by deployments. They are the ones who give the most support, sending care packages and letters. They argue that the nuclear family needs time together alone after deployments to reintegrate, away from extended meddling family. I’ve heard the argument that parents and siblings have had their whole life with the service member, and that spouses deserve to have their future time.
I fall on the other side of the argument. I feel that extended family and friends are more than welcome at homecomings. I understand the above point of view, and maybe if my family or my husband’s family were difficult then I might not want them there, but they are great, so I am more than happy to have them at homecomings if they want to come. My husband’s family was in his life long before I was. His parents raised him, his siblings grew up with him. I would never presume to think that they love him any less than I do. It is a different kind of love and a different relationship, but they are still a huge part of his life, and I recognize and respect that.
I can’t imagine how I would feel if one of our children, who we loved and raised for 18+ years came home from a deployment and his/her spouse said that we couldn’t be there. I would be very hurt, and to be honest, would probably think less of my child’s spouse for not supporting or understanding how important family is (to me and my husband, it is very important).
I acknowledge that many people have had in-law homecoming horror stories. Bing pushed out of the way by a mother-in-law for the first hug. Family staying at hour home for weeks. There do need to be some boundaries when it comes to families and homecomings. Who gets the first hug. How long family will stay in town. Where family will stay (with the couple or in a hotel). All those things need to be worked out and agreed to by all parties before the big day.
We have never had family at either of my husband’s homecomings (they couldn’t afford to fly out). However, if we did, I would want the first hug/kiss and I would expect them to get a hotel and stay in town for less than a week. Other than that, I think it would be wonderful if they came. More people to take pictures for us (haha), and I know my husband would love to see his parents and siblings and would appreciate that they came out to be there for him.
Now, it’s a different story if the service member doesn’t want their family there. In the end, I believe that homecoming is about the service member. They should be able to request who they want or don’t want for that special day. I think spouses need to respect their service members choice and honor it, because it is their day just as much as (if not more than) it is yours.