I was listening to NPR last week as I drove in the car. There was a story on about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the effect that they have had on the children of members of the military. They were interviewing a school counselor from Texas who has worked in schools where most of the kids have at least one parent in the military. She told a story about a 14 year old boy whose dad came home from a deployment and when no one was there to greet him he went to his sons school to see him. The son had to tell his dad that they were living with the dad’s friend and his mom was pregnant with the friends baby. (You can listen to the story here if you are interested.) The premise behind the story was that because of a war a 14 year old boy was put in this situation. At least that is how I understood it.
While I agree with the woman in the story that a 14 year old boy should never have to be the one to tell his father about this, I don’t agree with the context that the story was told in. Not once did they mention the mother, except to say that she was pregnant with another man’s child. Why is this story the wars fault? The fact that his dad was deployed isn’t what caused this boy to have to tell this stuff to his father. It was the choices that his mother made while his father was deployed that put the kid in this situation. A woman caused these problems, not a war.
I hear about the military and military families and all of the bad stuff that is happening because of the repeated deployments and it bothers me. I feel like people are blaming their bad choices on the deployment, using it as an excuse for their behavior. Just because you are separated doesn’t mean your relationship has to suffer. I know because I’ve been through it. When my husband left one of the things I was the most worried about was our relationship. How can you stay close to someone when you don’t see them for a year and only talk every few days? It can happen. It did happen. My husband and I grew closer while he was gone, our relationship was strengthened during this time and has benefited greatly since.
Using your circumstances as an excuse for your behavior doesn’t just happen in military life. Everyone goes through hard times in their life when choices have to be made. People justify bad choices because of their situation and use excuses for their behavior. But no matter what the circumstance is, we have choices. The circumstance doesn’t make us do anything. We choose.
So NPR and all other media outlets, please stop helping people justify their bad decisions. Don’t try to make me think that a woman choosing to sleep with her husband’s friend while we was over fighting a war and then keeping secrets which lead to her son being put in a difficult situation is the wars fault. It isn’t and it never will be.