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Q:

How can I help my child deal with the absence of a parent who is deployed or working overseas?

Hi everyone,

My name is Sarah and I am a mother of a 7-year-old boy. My husband, who is also a military personnel, has been deployed overseas for his duty for the past few months. This is the first time our family is experiencing such a separation and my son has been having a tough time dealing with it. He seems to miss his dad a lot and often gets emotional thinking about him.

I am looking for some advice and tips on how to help my child deal with the absence of his father. I want to make this experience as smooth as possible for him and ensure that he understands why his father had to leave. I would appreciate any suggestions or personal experiences that you may have had dealing with similar situations.

Thank you in advance for your help!

All Replies

ophelia71

Hi Sarah,

I am a mother of a 4-year-old daughter, and my husband is in the military. He has been deployed several times, and I can appreciate what you're going through. When my daughter was younger, it was challenging to help her understand why her dad had to leave.

One of the things that worked for us was creating a "daddy" pillow. We printed a picture of her dad and then glued it on a plain white pillow. She would sleep with it at night or cuddle with it when she missed her dad, and it gave her some comfort.

Another thing that helped was creating a countdown calendar. We made it together, and it consisted of 30 days. We would cross off a day each morning and talk about how long it would be until her dad returned.

We also found it beneficial to read picture books about families with members in the military. One of our favourites was "Love Lizzie: Letters to a Military Mom." The book includes letters from a young girl to her mom, who is deployed, and it helped us talk about our feelings about the absence.

Lastly, it's crucial to take care of yourself during this time. Talk to friends and family about your feelings and take breaks when you need them. A happy and healthy parent is the best support for your child during a difficult time.

I hope these tips help you and your son. Remember, you are not alone, and there are options to help you through this challenging period.

Take care!

dgleichner

Hi Sarah,

I can imagine how challenging it must be for both you and your son with your husband deployed overseas. My husband is in the military as well, and he had to be away for over a year, so I understand what it feels like.

One of the things that helped my daughter deal with her dad's absence was creating a "daddy" box. We filled it with things that reminded her of her dad, like photos of them together, his favourite t-shirt and a teddy bear he got her. She would go through the box whenever she missed him and it provided a sense of closeness to him.

Another thing that worked for us was involving her in activities that celebrate her dad's commitment to duty. We took part in military ceremonies and parades that helped her to understand why her dad and others like him are important. She also became familiar with their uniform and the reason behind it.

Moreover, we found it helpful to connect with other military families. We joined a support group that offered fun activities and support for kids like my daughter. It gave her an opportunity to make new friends and share her experience with other kids who were in a similar situation.

I hope my experience helps you and your son to find some comfort. Remember to support each other, and stay strong during this time.

Take care!

kshields

Hi Sarah,

I can understand how tough it must be for you and your son to deal with your husband's absence. My husband is a chef and often travels overseas for work, so I understand the feeling of separation.

One of the things that helped my daughter cope with her dad's absence was to involve her in activities that brought her closer to him, even when he was away. We used to create home-made postcards and sent them to him. It helped her feel more connected to her dad and made her feel that they were together, even though they were miles apart.

Another thing that helped was to keep the lines of communication open. We would use video calls and texts to stay in touch with him regularly. It helped her see and hear her dad and made her feel like he was really there with her.

Also, I encouraged my daughter to keep a journal of her feelings and anything newsworthy, so her dad could read it when he returned. It was a great way for her to express herself and share her precious moments with her father.

Lastly, we planned a family reunion party that made her so happy. She prepared and practiced her songs and dances to welcome her dad back home.

I hope some of these suggestions will help you and your son to find some comfort and feel more connected during this difficult time. Remember to stay strong, and take care of yourself as well.

Best wishes!

uondricka

Hi Sarah,

I completely understand what you're going through as I have been in a similar situation. My husband is also in the military and had to leave for duty overseas when our son was 6 years old. It was hard for him to deal with the absence of his father and I had to find a way to help him cope with it.

One of the things that helped my son was to keep him connected with his dad as much as possible. We would use video calls, emails, and letters to communicate with him regularly. This way, my son felt like he was still in touch with his dad and it made the separation less painful.

Another thing that helped was to create a routine for my son. I made sure he had a set schedule for school, playtime, and bedtime. Having a routine helped him feel more stable and gave him some sense of control over his life.

I also encouraged my son to express his feelings and talk about how he was feeling. This helped him process his emotions and made him feel like he had someone to lean on.

Lastly, I found it helpful to keep things positive and create a sense of excitement about his father's return. We would make countdown calendars and plan special activities for when his dad got back.

I hope this helps and wish you and your family all the best.

rowan.altenwerth

Hi Sarah,

I can understand how hard it is for you and your son with your husband being deployed overseas. My daughter's father is a truck driver, and he is on the road a lot. It may not be quite the same as being a military member, but the absence is similar.

One of the things that helped us deal with the absence was to create a photo album of memories we have created with her father. She would look through the album when she missed him or when she wanted to remember the memories they made together. It helped her feel connected to him.

Another thing that helped was to create a calendar with pictures of her dad, marking the days until he returns. It gave her something to look forward to and added excitement to the anticipation of his homecoming.

It's also essential to make sure that your child understands why their parent is away. I explained to my daughter why her dad has to be on the road for work and why it is essential. It helped her make sense of the situation.

Lastly, it's essential to keep a positive mindset and stay upbeat. Although it is tough, try to create happy memories with your son, take trips and do activities that you both enjoy. It will make the time go faster and make the reunion more meaningful.

I hope this helps you and your son. I know that you both will make it through this difficult time.

Take care!

owaelchi

Hi Sarah,

My son's dad is a merchant navy officer, which means he has to spend several months away from home, and I can understand what you are going through. It is challenging to see a kid dealing with the absence of a parent. When my son was about 5 years old, his dad had to leave for six months, and he missed him terribly.

To help my son, I created a scrapbook with photos of his dad and placed it on his room's nightstand. It was comforting to him, and he could see him every day. It also helped him remember the memories they have made together.

Another thing that worked for my son was to create video messages of his dad. It was a good way of keeping the communication going, and it uplifted his spirit. We would watch the videos together, and we would laugh, sing, and talk about the things he missed with his dad.

Also, I encouraged my son to take up a new hobby or activity to redirect his energy. It could be anything that interests him, like taking up a sport, learning a new skill, or spending more time with friends. It helped my son in not just passing the time but also keeping his mind and body occupied.

I hope these tips help. Remember to be patient with your child and offer support in every way that you can.

Take care!

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