At Citizens for Self-Governance, we know keeping our republic requires sacrifice.  Here’s my story of what happened when my husband — and father of two children – decided to put his dedication to his nation to the test:

“I think I should join the Army,” my husband said.

It was after 9/11, and he strongly felt he should join in his generation’s conflict.  However, we had two kids. Many women told me I should’ve put my foot down and said “No” because children should trump military duty.

“Don’t you have kids?” one lady asked with furrowed brow after I was introduced as someone whose husband was in Iraq. “When he joined the Army, didn’t he realize he’d be deployed? What about your children?”

“Wars are complicated,” I began. “And the government needs adults over there to run things. Frequently, by the time guys are officers, they’re parents.”

In a child-centric culture that defines “good parenting” as a dad who never missed a soccer game, my explanation was as rhetorically forceful as Charlie Brown’s teacher assigning homework.

“Well, that’s where his priority should be,” the lady said, and that was that.
 Invoking “the children” always ends the conversation because you’re left in the unenviable position of defending your “anti-child” policies and, frankly, you’ve already lost. “He can’t be a father if he’s not there.”

I later relayed the conversation my friend, Anna, whose physician husband eventually deployed in the Air Force.

“If the entire population of ‘parents’ excluded themselves from military service, we couldn’t have stormed the beaches of Normandy, won at Gettysburg, or even gained our independence from Britain,” I complained.

“People like that just don’t get it. They close their eyes and hope someone else will do what needs to be done,” she said.  “And you’re a living, breathing ‘someone else’ reminding them that somebody has to do something.”

I knew Anna was right — that this was something we just needed to work through ourselves. After months of listening to the kids’ muffled tears in their pillows, I felt I was driving a damaged car, waving out the window at the people honking behind me. Just go around. We have to go at our own pace.

Read the rest and see how I answer the constant question, “What about the children?”


About The Author

Nancy French

Nancy French is a three-time New York Times best-selling author. Her most recent books include a collaboration with Sarah Palin on her new book Good Tidings and Great Joy: Protecting the Heart of Christmas and with famous Chinese dissident Bob Fu on his book God’s Double Agent: The True Story of a Chinese Christian’s Fight for Freedom. Other books include Home and Away: A Story of Family in a Time of War which she co-authored with her husband David French. She also collaborated with Bristol Palin on her book Not Afraid of Life: My Story So Far and with Olympic gold medalist Shawn Johnson’s A Winning Balance: What I’ve Learned So Far about Love, Faith, and Living Your Dreams. She also wrote Red State of Mind: How a Catfish Queen Reject Became a Liberty Belle. She is the editor of the Faith and Family Channel on Patheos, writes for National Review Online and Rare magazine, and has written in numerous publications, such as USA Today, Parents magazine, and the Philadelphia Inquirer.   She and her husband David have a home in Franklin, Tennessee, where they and their three children attend Zion Presbyterian Church (PCA).