How do you prepare a toddler for her daddy leaving?

Amber - posted on 11/11/2008 ( 2 moms have responded )

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Hi my name is Amber. My husband is fulltime ARNG been in for 8 years. We are gearing up and dealing with all the struggles for his deployment in February. The usual... pushing away cause then it won't hurt so bad, but how do I help him to enjoy every minute of our daughter before he goes?? Please if anyone can offer up some advice... I could really use some.

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Angie - posted on 11/12/2008

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Hey Amber...My husband is in the Army Reserves. He was previously an Active Duty Marine, and had spent much of his military career deployed (of course all of that was before we met). So in 2001 when his unit was activated, it was culture shock for me. The day he received his orders our kids were 3, 15mos, and 1month 9days. None of them were old enough to even kind of understand what was happening. The advice I would like to offer is to make the best of the time you have from now til Feb. Make tons of pictures...make videos....make memories...these are the things that you and your daughter can have here while he is deployed, and he can also take these things with him (or you can send them to him). While my husband was deployed I would video our kids and then send him dvd's of them. Another thing we did that was neat is he would make cassette tapes of himself talking to the kids. It was precious to get those tapes in and sit down with the kids and watch their faces as their daddy talked to each one of them from the tape player. They would talk right back to him:) I would video them listening to him and then send it back to him.

I work in L&D, and another thing I have done for other military families is to put ink footprints of the kids on the inside of dad's ACU's. You can get sealant to keep them from washing off...and that baby is always close to daddy's heart.

As far as pushing away and being able to enjoy you and your daughter before he goes...the best advice I have for you is that military or not....none of knows what tomorrow holds in fact we are not guaranteed tomorrow but we can't not love and spend time with our family just because they might get ran over by a car tomorrow. As hard as the deployment is, be greatful for the opportunity to live like everyday is the last day from now until February. Things happen to people everyday and they don't get the opportunity to say what they want to say or do what they want to do with their families because they have taken it for granted that there will always be another day.

Hang in there...the only job harder than a soldier's is being a soldier's spouse.

Angie

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hey my name is heather, and my husband is no longer in the military, but he just got out this past april. he was deployed 2 times...once to afghanistan and once to iraq. the harder of the 2 was the one to iraq. at the time that he left my son was 2. it was very hard for my husband and my son. my husband did the pulling away and i told him that he is going to want to make as many memories with our son before he leaves, not that we thought anything was going to happen, but that way he would have current memories to take with him to iraq. ask your husband how he feels and listen to him and his answers on why he is pulling away. the one i heard all the time was i'm scared...all the what ifs and all that.

for your daughter...explain it when the time gets closer to when he leaves. if you start it now then she will be confused. with the lack of concept for time now until feb. is going to seem like an eternity. then when time is closer sit down with her, you and your husband, and talk to her about what is going on. you will be surprised how much they comprehend and remember and hold with them. when he is gone and she asks about him just say daddy is really far away with the (and come up with a word that works for her we used "daddy is over with the army) then sometimes sit with her with a globe. my son wanted one really bad for whatever reason so i picked on up and one day he asked about daddy and i brought the globe out and showed him where we were and then where daddy was and kept my finger on both and turned it so that he could see how far away he was. he always found it really interesting and towards the end of the deployment he could point where daddy was and where we were and he would say "we are willy far from daddy"

the best thing you guys can do as a family, as a couple, and with your daughter is talk and keep honesty through it all. don't try and hide anything. there are the obivious things to hide from you daughter like why he is going and stuff like that, but honesty makes it go easier on everyone. if you need anything feel free to email me any time. hope all goes well..good luck with everything

heather

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