- If you think it's hard on us, take a moment to think what the children are feeling. We hope this helps you help them.
- Talking with Your Loved Ones:
Don't forget to encourage talking with parents, spouse, and children before your Trainee leaves for basic training! Whether your AB needs to leave in a few weeks or a few months, talking about the training and leaving is important. You may be busy planning the practical matters of them going away, but talking about the emotional side is important, too.
As soon as your Trainee has a ship date, talk with them about your upcoming separation. It won't be easy, but you can discuss any concerns you have, specifically any added responsibilities you will have at home while they are gone.
Be honest about your fears and problems. You may both have mood swings or arguments as you prepare for them to ship, but this is normal. Get your trainee to help you by preparing for problems. Addressing these types of concerns can be helpful to ease both of your minds.
Be sure to talk to your parents, siblings and other family members with close ties. Don't be afraid to ask for their help and support while your AB is away from home.
Many may pull away or start an argument falsely thinking this will help ease the pain of separation. It's ok to have an adult conversation and let them know that even though you don't agree with how they are acting, you understand somewhat.
For Trainees who are parents or an older sibling
- Talking with Children:
You and your Trainee/AB should talk to the children to help them adjust to the upcoming change. Be clear and straightforward when you explain why daddy/mommy/older brother/sister needs to leave. Tell your child how you feel about the separation and encourage them to share their feelings too. Be as open as possible. Listen to their fears and concerns and address them directly.
Think of ways to help your AB stay connected with the children, like sending greeting cards that they can mail home just for the kids. You could also record audio or video tapes of mommy or daddy reading your children's favorite bedtime stories.
- Children With An Absent Parent or Older Sibling
We adults have difficulties keeping things together when our loved one is in the service. So do our children. We want to make sure that the younger ones are taken care of too. Here are a few links that will assist you in helping the sneakers while the boots are away.
The littlest ones are affected in a completely different way than adults. They are too young to understand all the reasons the one they love is gone and in some cases may not be able to adequately convey what they are feeling. The following link may help.
Helpful hints before they leave
- Have him/her tape his voice reading the child's favorite book.
- Do a video.
- Make a special shirt that the child can sleep in. You might want to make one for yourself too.
- Have him/her wear the shirts and send them back home unwashed in the baggies (not too sweaty please). The scent of a loved one is unique and powerful and can help children dealing with sleep issues. The video can be emailed back.
Information compiled by Lorraine Silva
Contributors: Rebecca Alwine, Erin Whitehead, Tia Johnson, Stacey Shade-Ware, Ingrid Herrera-Yee, Lucha Reyna, Stacy Huisman, Rebekah Sanderlin, Cyndia Rios Myers for the following information.
Our military kids are known for being super resilient, but even the most seasoned "brat" can have a tough time adjusting to a deployment. And as parents, we long to make the experience a little easier for them. Many of us ask ourselves, "what can I do to help keep their mind off of this separation", or "how can our family stay busy so the time won't seem to drag on?" We asked our group of wonderful contributors for their best ideas for keeping the kiddos busy during deployment. What items would you add to this list?
1) Take a map and pick places close by (that you can travel to in a day) and plan one trip for every month the service member is gone.
2) Have your service member make an envelope for every week (or month) they will be gone with a suggestion for an activity or an age appropriate task and reward.
3) Words, words, words! Find a book series they enjoy reading and make sure the next one is waiting for them when they finish the first. Send the service member the same series, it will give the parent and child something interesting to discuss during calls or through email.
4) Utilize summer camps in your area. Installations may have day camps available.
5) Have older kids take turns making/planning dinners for the week. This can give them a real sense of helping "take care" of the family.
6) Let your kids plan entire care packages, all by themselves.
source: military spouses