How To Help Your Children Handle a Deployment

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Dear “And You Will Have Kids”,

My husband will be deploying soon.  Our children are very young and I’m a little nervous about the whole process. Do you have any tips that could help us?

Military Mom

 

Dear “Military Mom”,

Deployments can be a difficult and stressful time for families.  Before deployment, your husband’s unit should have several sessions for families to discuss ways to get prepared for the deployment which should help reduce your stress levels.  They should tell you about various community resources available for military families.  This can vary from unit to unit and also from area to area.

Most units also have a family care group.  Get to know the members of the group and don’t be afraid to ask for help if and when you need help. 

You say that your children are young.   Young children may have trouble understanding the reality of a deployment and why exactly a parent has to go away.  They may also have trouble, depending upon their age, “remembering” the parent who has left.  For example, if you child is a year old and your husband is on a 15 month deployment, your child may not remember what Daddy looks like.  Take pictures of your husband with your children before he leaves and have the children look through the pictures often.  You may want to have your husband read some bedtime stories on tape or on video.  You can play the tapes throughout the deployment so your children will remember what Daddy’s voice sounds like. 

It’s also important to continue on with the family routines as much as possible.   Of course, if you are extremely nervous and stressed, your children will pick up on that too.

If your children ask questions about the deployment, I’d give them general information, but not anything frightening or overwhelming.  Again, your family care group should be able to help you with specifics.

One of the best ways you can take care of your children is by taking care of yourself.  Remember how the stewardesses on the airplanes always say that you should first put the oxygen mask on yourself before helping your children?  It works that way in life too.  You can’t take care of your children if you aren’t taking care of yourself.  If you feel worried, stressed, or depressed, consider talking to a counselor or a chaplain about your fears. 

I wish the best for you and your family!

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