Saturday, September 28, 2013

Methods to Help Children Cope With Military Deployment: Guest Post from A Table for 5

Guess what I'm doing today? You got it. Tearing apart my house. Today I'd like to welcome Alyca from A Table for Five. Although neither she nor I are military spouses or are children of military families, we both have been touched by deployments in one way or another. 
My step-brother (Army) and brother in law (Navy) have both been on deployments abroad 
in the last 10 years and it is affects the entire family and friends.  

Methods to Help Children Cope With Military Deployment

Not being a "military brat" myself, I have never had to deal with my parents having to go far away for long periods of time. However, my husband's father was in the Navy which left just him and his mother at home frequently and, although those years of having his mom all to himself are precious memories, he was never fond of his dad being overseas. This subject is also currently close to our hearts because our good friends and neighbors are currently at the beginning of a two year long deployment. My own daughter was devastated at the loss of her best friends dad and he's not even our family so imagining how his own family feels is almost too abstract for me to grasp.

Helping children with the pain of having a parent gone for extended periods of time is almost the same as helping children through a divorce or separation of their parents. Now THAT is something I have experience with, my daughter has not seen her biological father for over two years.

First of all, there are a ton of resources available for families to access:
  • Military Support Groups
  • Pediatrician
  • Mental Health Professionals
  • Online Resources:, National Military Family Association -
  • Print Resoures:
kids military deployment book I Miss You!: A Military Kid’s Book About Deployment 7 by Beth Andrews (Prometheus Books, 2007) - Photo Courtesy[/caption]

Be Honest and Open

The most important thing is to be honest with your children. They need to know upfront before the deployment what will be happening. Talk to them and answer their questions. Depending on the age of the child(ren), certain information may not be necessary. A young child may not even realize that being in the military could mean being in dangerous situations so find out what is causing them the most worry and address their fears head on in a gentle and matter of fact way.

Give Children Something to Look Forward to

Find ways to make the situation exciting. Maybe you will be able to visit the parent in a new country. Make sure your child knows how they will be able to communicate with the deployed parent such as letters, pictures, videos, face to face video chats, and occasions when their parent will be coming home. Focusing on the positives will be good for the whole family.

Keep Daddy Around

Have pictures of your child's deployed parent in their room or in a special place available to them. Talk about Daddy, remind your child every day and every night that he loves her and is working hard for the family. Take lots of pictures for Dad too, let him be a part of your day to day life and let your child know that he is watching and participating from afar. Start traditions with your kids such as having Daddy read a recordable book so his voice will stay with them or maybe he always sends a hat or t-shirt from where he is so that they have a matching one, these keepsakes will give your child fond memories of bonding during deployment.

Take is Easy

Don't be hard on yourself. Give yourself permission to grieve, to cry, and to work through all the emotions you may be feeling. Huge emotional outbursts should obviously be saved for when your child is not around but it may not be possible for everyone to maintain composure at all times. It is okay for your child to see your sadness, let her know that it is normal to feel sad and that both of you will work through it together. Take it easy on your kids too. It is hard to predict exactly how your child will react, their misbehavior or actions toward you, the deployed parent, or their siblings may surprise you or seem unrelated. Approach situations and feelings slowly and with compassion.

This too shall pass

This deployment won't last forever and your worries will not make it go away. Being separated from loved ones for extended periods is a big deal and a challenge to endure. The best thing that you can do as an adult or a child is to take it one moment, one day, one step, or one feeling at a time and keep in mind that someday soon it will be over and this period of your lives will just be a memory.

Comment below and share tips that have helped your family through a difficult separation.

bioAlyca is the author of the blog A Table for Five and a Stay-at-Home-Mom to three children under age six. As a “crunchy” mom, she enjoys parenting using natural methods such as home-birth, breastfeeding, attachment parenting, and cloth diapering! A Table for Five was started in January 2013 with the mission of reaching out to like-minded mothers and parents who would benefit from her sharing stories of being a blended step-family with young kids. Follow along to read about her day to day life as a "green" mom, step-mom, and wife and also find family friendly product reviews and giveaways.

No comments:

Post a Comment


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...