It’s over. Done. Finito. Now, it’s just about getting the whole family together again, finally. All that’s left is the hugs and kisses. But who gets that first homecoming hug?
Honestly, this is a huge topic of controversy for military families, especially parents and spouses. Everyone seems to want that “first” contact after deployment is finished, but there can only be one.
Deciding Who Gets the First Homecoming Hug
There are some serious familial politics at play. No matter what, it seems like someone might walk away with hurt feelings.
Let’s break it on down to make your next homecoming super simple! All these scenarios assume that parents and/or extended family will be present along with the service member’s significant other and kids.
Single Service Member
This one is a no-brainer: parents get the first hug! When a service member arrives back from deployment, they might be the only ones there to provide a welcome.
After parents, if necessary, move down through siblings to extended family, then friends.
A single service member coming with no significant other is so simple.
Dating or Engaged Service Member
This is where the family politics come into play, with parents often butting head with significant others. Which means that everyone is going to need to communicate clearly, openly and honestly. Mostly, it comes down to service member preference: parents or significant other.
If Mom and Dad get the first hug, the significant other should obviously get the second. And vice versa.
That said, if the service member is in a long term serious committed relationship or is engaged, the significant other should take preference. they’ve moved into the “spouse” role (see below).
Either way, talk as a family and a couple before homecoming to be super clear about what’s happening and why.
There are no losers here: the service member is home.
Married Service Member, No Kids
Hey parents, in this case, back off the first hug urge. I get that this is your baby, coming home after months away. But you’ve also been somewhat removed from the stress of this deployment.
Your grown child’s spouse has been holding it down at home, dealing with the absence of their loved one for months on end. They’ve done the bills, handled household emergencies and been super involved with the FRG.
Mom and Dad, grab that second hug and savor it!
Married Service Member, Kids
Everyone hold on, because the kids get first dibs here! Their world has been rocked by their parent’s absence. Plus, they probably look pretty sweet in those special homecoming outfits.
Get out of their way, they’re getting their parent!
After the kids get scooped up, the spouse should be next in line for a hug and kiss. There might be a big family hug worked in here, too.
If anyone else is around, work down the line: parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins and then friends.
Why Are We Even Talking About This?
Okay, yes, it might seem pretty basic. There’s an order and preference for who gets that first hug that should be pretty intuitive: kids, spouse/significant other, parents, others.
But we wouldn’t be having this discussion if there weren’t pretty widespread issues around homecomings. Especially when it comes to a mom wanting the first hug over anyone and everyone else, including the kids.
There have been cases of parents literally racing a spouse to get the first hug. Other reports of parents, especially mothers, hugging and not letting go have also trickled down through the ranks.
Let’s be clear: unless the service member says otherwise or they simply aren’t in the picture, homecoming first hugs are for spouses and kids. Mom, sorry, this isn’t your show anymore. Your child is grown, even if it’s hard to imagine. Their spouse and their kids have born the brunt of this deployment and they get first dibs on hugs or kisses.
Other Homecoming Related Concerns & Issues
Homecoming seems to be a topic of much discussion and lots of stress. And it mostly falls on the military spouse to handle the load of planning, inviting and prepping for this glorious day.
So, in case you were wondering, here are some things you might want to think about as the service member, military parent or extended family.
Returning Service Member
Stick to the plan, no deviations. Seriously. Don’t need to run a quick errand real fast. There are no rides offered or shuttling services provided before, during or after your homecoming.
Don’t do it.
Your spouse, kids and/or parents just want to get you home.
Remember that your spouse and/or parents have likely spent some time getting the house spotless for your return. Dropping your gear in a messy pile in the living room might ruffle some feathers. Definitely find a drop-spot, but keep things out of the way until you can sort them properly.
Other than this, it’s your day! Take a nap, pop a cold one and chow down!
This is sensitive. You want to welcome your hero home, but also want to avoid stepping on any toes. Which means that you need to wait for an invite, preferably from the spouse.
Don’t invite yourself. There might be other factors at play here which would make your presence intrusive.
By all means, come if you’re invited though. But rent a car and get a hotel. your loved one and his/her spouse. If you opt to stay with them, things might get awkward. After all, it’s been a long deployment.