Life in the military is, undeniably, an admirable pursuit. But, when it comes to family life, some downsides are also evident. While benefits and support can enhance the lives of partners and kids, it’s never easy to say goodbye. The whole family is sure to feel the sting of every deployment that rolls around.
Kids, especially, face the sharp edge of this lifestyle. Not only do military fathers often miss many of their formative years, but children also have to cope with extended periods when Dad isn’t around. Worse, unlike other careers, military life means that it’s unlikely they’ll be able to pick up the phone whenever they fancy.
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Deployment is tough for adults, let alone kids who can’t fully understand. Yet, as many fantastic military moms prove, there are ways to work around these issues, and we’re going to consider the best of them here.
Inevitably, that can lead to an amount of uncertainty that can be hard for youngsters to deal with. This is something moms should aim to overcome by working that much harder to strengthen support networks wherever they can.
For one, they need to make sure that they become a routine and stable part of their kids’ lives by fitting work commitments around school times, holidays, etc.
It’s also worth doubling down on the amount of time your kids spend with other close family members, who can again remain constant despite what’s happening with their parents’ job.
And, of course, it always pays to tell teachers about periods when a parent is out on duty. Teachers are fundamental caregivers for our children, after all, and knowing this information allows them to provide the best, consistent level of care for stability in the interim.
Military communication might not always be accessible, but you should still have the opportunity to write letters to your partner regularly so that you can at least keep in touch. This is, of course, is no comparison to a phone or video call, but it’s still a fantastic way to share any news and generally feel closer despite distances. And, that’s going to stand for your kids, too.
Often, we make the mistake of shielding them from communications like these because we imagine it’ll be easier if they get on with things, but that’s never the right course. Instead, you should encourage your kids to write letters to their deployed parent often throughout the absence.
Not only are these letters going to work wonders for putting a smile on a deployed parents face wherever they are, but they’ll also be fantastically therapeutic for your children. You may even find that, when they write often enough, they feel far less distant than they would otherwise. And, of course, this gives the soldier a chance to reply and keep conversations open even they are away!
Give them something positive to focus on during deployment
Another great idea is to give your kids something positive to focus on, especially when a tour looks set to last a long time. Remember that this is a distressing experience for them, so there’s nothing wrong with a little spoiling them occasionally, especially if it comes from a deployed parent.
Something like a games console or book as they are leaving can help to both distract and remind your kids of their deployed parent at the same time. Equally, if you’ve thought it through long and hard beforehand, you might want to take this chance to give your kids a pet to look out for. Something small like a hamster would work wonderfully for this, but you could even go all out with a dog from thelabrador retriever breed or similar to ‘look over’ your kids. Then, they’ll likely be so excited that it will make the separation easier.
Of course, you might not want to get into the gifting habit for every deployment, and that’s understandable. In that instance, you could always turn this positive focus towards something like a new hobby. After all, the more time your kids have on their hands, the harder this shift will be.
By keeping them busy learning baking, knitting, or similar, you ensure they barely even have time to think about mom or dad’s absence. Even better, teaching them these new skills has the benefit of providing plenty of distraction for you, too.
Make plans for them to look forward to after deployment
Lastly, you’ll want to ensure that your kids have things to look forward to when their deployed parent returns. It can be tough for youngsters to see the light at the end of the absence, after all, and this could help to alleviate that dark period. Instead, planning days out as a family or even booking a vacation can provide an end-point for them to focus on. And, as simple as that, you ensure that they’re able to keep looking forward to the end of a deployment, rather than dwelling on the days when that mom or dad isn’t around.
The sad reality is that military life is never going to be easy on your kids. That’s a fact. But, as you can see, you can take plenty of steps to at least ease the sting a little. And, you might just find that focusing on these pointers helps you to take your mind off things in the process.