How can I make it easier on my children when their daddy is being deployed to Iraq?
What are some ways to help a child adjust when they have a parent that will be absent for a long period of time?
my daughter responds best to such things when I am completely honest with her. And then talk about him all during the day, make sure no one sits in his chair at dinner, pray for him and make sure the kids talk to him when he calls. Even for a second. Keep pictures of him around and if you can, skype!
My boys were too young to fully understand what was happening and too young to try to explain. often they wud say "daddy?" and look around the house. it was heart breaking but when he came home their faces lit up and they cudnt stop smiling! kids are resilient and thankfully he was only gone for training.
My kids were 4 & 6 when my husband deployed. We talked through how Daddy would be gone for a long time, (explained it was from before son's b-day, past Halloween, Thanksgiving, etc so they could understand he'd miss those important events & we could cross them off with the next one as short term goals). My husband took them to Build A Bear & made a voice button for their bears simply saying "Hi Britin, this is Daddy. I love you very very much!" Kids played it often & the nights I heard it more in their rooms helped me realize I needed to give them a little more. Both kids got extra attention from male family members and male friends/neighbors, even if it was a short visit. Silly things like wrestling were very helpful to my son (6). Kids emailed & wrote daddy letters & he would at least write a small note to each kid in each contact. Daddy also prearranged balloon & small toy delivery for birthdays with notes (set to arrive a day early "just in case" so I could fix the error). For my birthday he had a letter & $$ set for the kids to take ME out (notes for each phase of situation. Ex. Entering restaurant: hold door open for mommy. Tell waitress it's mommy's birthday & nicely ask if they could sing" . During meal: ideas to talk about, manners, etc.) Kids LOVED that! We also talked about daddy & how he would feel in whatever situation we were doing. We maintained most of our routines, but if some were too hard without daddy, we "saved it" or made adjustments. Most important was to keep reminding them how lucky we are that their daddy loves them & how proud we are of him because he was deployed so he can help our country.
I have written a children's picture book for kid's dealing with separation grief. The reason for separation is not defined and could be used for many different circumstances such as deployment. Please check it out at www.imissdaddy.com and let me know if you think this could help you. Thank you, Amy K. Potvin
It is best to give your child an escape or release with a sport or extra activities. Be specific and share experience with a webcam if possible. And send. Them to brownies to learn about survival in the wilderness. This will give them an idea of the importance of dads job and teach them to cope.
Very much depends on their ages. Primary school age seems to do pretty well with including a dad substitute (ie teddy bear dressed in cams etc) sitting in dinner seat, sitting in dad's chair for TV time etc, (and kids can have private talks to bear if needed - sort of like this bear is connected to daddy's heart and he will feel it when you give it love) plus writing journals and/or letters to dad with lots of pictures (sort of art therapy) and phone calls whenever possible, even though you really need the phone call time to discuss the latest paperwork problems, bill problems, computer problems etc (our electronics go beserk every time he's away). Emphasis on picturing where he is, what his room is like, what he's eating etc sometimes helps. Counting down the days until he's back instead of how long he's been gone. If contact isn't regular, act like it will be a great surprise when he can call rather than fret when he can't. Boys over 8 or so seem to really need a dad substitue if he's gone for a while, so regular contact with grandpa or uncle might be extra important while dad's gone. Good luck.