When a military service member is in the family, it’s easy for the whole family to experience the effects of their responsibilities. Between frequent moves in between states and long hours in the field or on missions, a military parent must shoulder many priorities that can impact their children.
Most importantly, deployments may take an enormous toll on a family’s household dynamic. One parent’s absence can place significant pressure on the other, throwing routines for a loop and making it challenging for children to adapt.
Fortunately, you can learn how to help children cope with a parent’s deployment and lift their spirits during this time, making the period easier to manage. Read on to learn more!
Prepare Children Beforehand
Some families don’t explain much to young ones about deployment and what it entails for fear of them not understanding or being unable to process the information. However, it’s in your best interest to provide these details to your children since they’ll undoubtedly ask about their parent’s whereabouts.
You can use globes or maps to inform your little ones about where their parent is going. It also helps to use books and educational TV shows as visual aids to illustrate a clearer picture of the situation at hand.
You can also allow young ones to take part in sending their parent off so that they have an opportunity to say goodbye.
Encourage Children To Share Feelings
No matter what anyone says, deployment can be a nerve-racking time! With so many factors up in the air, your family may experience moments of sadness, frustration, and anxiety. Allow yourself and your children to feel these emotions without shame; encourage your little ones to speak up and talk about what’s bothering them.
You can use this time to remind your children that their parent’s love for their family is what’s driving their need to be away and help keep everyone safe. Remember to give yourself some grace; comfort your children and reassure them during this time if they express their worries to you.
Promote Clear, Open Communication
There are plenty of factors that dictate how often your partner will call home and communicate with the family while overseas. With work schedules and varying time zones, there may be a period during deployment when little ones won’t hear from their parent.
During those times when communication isn’t consistent, consider sending letters, photos, and videos through a secure communication tool that allows the family to bond.
Inform Other Adults in Your Children’s Lives
Chances are that there are other adults in your children’s lives besides their parents; it helps to notify them of changes your family is currently facing so that everyone is on the same page.
If teachers, doctors, and counselors are aware of the deployment, they can better prepare to offer the necessary support your young ones may need.
Parenting when your partner is on deployment is challenging enough, but when it starts to impact your children, it can make the period more stressful. Knowing how to help your children cope with their parent’s deployment allows you to lift some of the emotional weight from their shoulders, supporting their mental health through the transition.