Husband will be away for about a month or more... how do I help my son with coping?

Shelley - posted on 11/03/2009 ( 14 moms have responded )

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My husband may have to go away for work for about a month or even 3 months. (we live in NY and he'll be in FL) -- we're probably only going to see him once or twice a month. My son is very attached to his dad who is a wonderful father and very active in his life (currently he's the one who takes him to daycare in teh morning and picks him up because his schedule is better for that then mine). My son always asks for his dad as soon as he wakes up or right before he goes to sleep. I know it'll be tough on him but I also know we'll be okay. I would love to get some tips or hear about similar situations and how you're dealing with them. thanks.



p.s. my son is 20 months old.

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Rebekah - posted on 11/03/2009

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My son is 15 months old, and he LOVES to vidcon with daddy. It's like his own personal cartoon character, lol! But I guess it depends on your sons personality.You won't know until you try it, if he seems upset by it, maybe wait a couple of weeks and try again.

Lisa - posted on 11/03/2009

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I'm an Army wife, and my husband had one of his Iraq tours when my son was about the same age as yours. In fact, out of my son's 4 birthdays, my husband has only actually been home for 2 of them. It was hard for my son to understand why his dad was gone, and hard for him to express that he was upset about it. I agree with one of the ladies who suggested checking days off on a calendar. Kids are very smart and visual. It will still be hard for him to understand time and days, but if you cross of the day and then show him where on the calendar daddy will be home, he can understand that the lines are getting closer to the circle.

I also suggest taking a LOT of pictures of your hubby, with your son, with you, all of you together, and him by himself. Make a board using the picture and hang it in your son's room, at a level he can easily see and touch it. ( Putting clear contact paper over it will help protect it.)

Next, if your husband will be taking a laptop and you will also have a computer - get Skype. It will allow you to video chat with eachother, which of course means that he can talk to your son face to face everyday. It's not as good as in person, but it really helps. Skype does have to be on both computers, but it's free and it's great. My sons talk to their grandparents every week over Skype and my parents are thrilled to get to see the boys grow up.

Everytime your hubby calls you, let your son talk to him. If your son is asleep, hold the phone next to his ear and let your hubby talk to him anyway. The subconcious will know his dad is talking and he will actually sleep better.

Sometimes my son would fall asleep while watching the pictures of his dad on my computer. ( I slideshow my pictures for him.)

Explain to your son that while daddy has to be away for just a little while, daddy loves him and wishes he was home. I would always tell my son how important he is to his dad and that daddy is only gone for a while because he has to be, and that daddy was coming home as soon as he could.

build a bear offers a variety of stuffed animals that you can record a message on. I know many people who purchased one for their child/children before a deployment and it was very helpful for their kids. You may want to look into that.

I hope some of this will help you! I know it can be very trying and quite an ordeal - no matter the time frame. I would reccommend that if you were planning on potty training, not to push it during this time. Maybe just introduce it to familiarize your son with the idea. Your hubby won't be gone too long, by the sound of it, and it will be less stressful for you, and your son. My hubby was gone for 15 months, and my son refused to potty train while his dad was gone. Once he was back, my son was fully potty trained in 2 weeks. He just felt it was a way he could express he was upset. "If I can't get what I want, I won't give you what you want" type of thing. Good luck!

Zoe - posted on 11/03/2009

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if your husband has a laptop and web cam it will be better on a night time or when he has the time to go onto web cam and say hello to your son this way he still gets to see his daddy and thinks his daddy is on the telly. so it will be more exciting for him. also before going to bed get a photo of your husband and tell your son to give daddy a kiss good night and a wave. it will be also good for daddy too.

Alison - posted on 11/03/2009

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I try not to say daddy is "at work", because I don't want the kids to associate work with being away. Probably not a big deal though. So I just say "papa is in Alberta". They don't know where or what that is, but they don't seem to mind.

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Shelley - posted on 11/03/2009

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For all those recommending the video phone calls (skype or messenger) -- do you find that your child was frustrated by seeing daddy and not being able to hug him or touch him, or did it help them?

thank you for all your responses.

Jackie - posted on 11/03/2009

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Personally what I would do is reassure him everyday that daddy is at work and will be home soon. OR what I have known some people to do, is get webcams if you have computer access where he is..that way you can web chat everyday and hell know dad is okay and that way daddy can reassure him too=] i hope this advice helps

Tina - posted on 11/03/2009

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I agree with not making too big of a deal. Don't pretend its not happening, but don't make it more emotional than it has to be. It is amazing how adaptable children are at this age. My husband has been deployed for over 3 years and I was so concerned how this would effect my middle son, who was 18 months at the time. He was the most attached to his Daddy. Phone calls are a big deal, you can web cam, and give him something to hold on to when he misses Daddy. All 3 of my kids have teddy bears with a backpack, we say the backpack is filled with enough hugs and kisses to last until the next time Daddy gets to come home and refill it. He has been able to come home about every 6 months. You will be amazed at how strong you and your son both are. Hope it goes well!

Alison - posted on 11/03/2009

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My husband has been working out of province for 3 weeks at a time. His plane is taking off again as I write.



My youngest is 18 months and my oldest was about 20 mos the first time he did this type of work. I have found that the 1st week or 2 are the hardest. The first two days, the girls would forget that papa is not around, after that, they started to adapt to the new routine.



I definitely notice that the girls are more insecure since this started and need more hugs and kisses and a consistant routine.



I do what I can to keep the girls busy, having people over and visiting friends often. We had planned to use Skype with webcam, but so far, the internet has not been available on his end. :( The girls chat with him on the phone. The 18 month old LOVES to talk on the phone and listen to his voice, even though he cannot understand anything she says.



I also try to make-up for the "daddy play" that is missing. I wrestle with them, throw them up in the air, tickle them... spending time with other male figures is good to, if you can and encourage them to really play with him.



Rest assured that many, many moms and children have had to go through similar challenges and for the most part come out unscathed. Especially if it is only a short-term situation.



All the best!

Stephanie - posted on 11/03/2009

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I understand some of what you are going through. My husband has to travel out of town also. He is only gone for a week at a time. He comes home on the weekends. We would talk to him on the phone every morning and every night. If you have a computer see if you can do a web cam chat with him. That way he will be able to see his dad everyday.

Rebekah - posted on 11/03/2009

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I don't know how old he is, but there are lots of things you can do! My husband has been in Japan for about 5 months, and we're in Ohio. These are some of the things we do to stay connected.

1. I made a daddy doll for each of my kids to cuddle when they miss him. I took pics of my husband form the front and from behind and then I ironed the images onto fabric like muslin, sewed the two sides together and filled it with poly-fiber fill.

2. You can have your husband make a video or audio recording of some your sons favorite stories, and your son can listen to them whenever he misses his dad.

3. video conferencing is great! And it'll be good for you too when you miss him most! (my husband and I have video conferencing "dates", lol)

4. your husband and your son can mail letters to each other. My kids love this because it's usually sporadic and ends up being a surprise. If your son is too young to read or write they can draw a picture "together" Maybe your son starts by drawing a dog, and then you mail it to daddy, then he adds something and mails it back. You end up with a very silly picture, that your son will probably cherish forever.

5. The most important thing is that you spend a lot of time talking about it beforehand, to prepare him for the impending change. And talk about your husband A LOT while he's gone, so that your son will feel at ease talking about him.

6. Another thing you can do before your husband leaves is start doing the bedtime routine (or other routines your son and husband share) together with them (so you can learn what exactly your husband does) and drive your son to daycare yourself a few times a week, so it's not foreign to him.

Good Luck! And remember, 3 months may seem like a long time, but it will pass quickly. My husband is active duty military and has been gone nearly half of our marriage, and one thing I have learned is that the time goes by more quickly when you're having fun!

Hanna - posted on 11/03/2009

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I would say to not make it that big of a deal. a lot of times it puts stress on the baby not because of the event itself, but because of the way people react to the event. my son just went to daycare (nanny) because i went back to work (he's 8 months old), i was all freaked out that he'll hate it or that he'll cry (he's going through a stage where he's extremely attached to us and hates being picked up by anyone else, including his grandmother). he loved it! and now he can't wait to get there, it's been a week & i think he's starting to like the nanny better than me.

a month ago, we went away to NYC for 2 weeks. my husband also plays a big role in Maxi's life -- gives him a bath at night, feeds him, plays with him. but the two weeks that we were there, it' wasn't an issue. i stayed at my friends, washed the baby, gave him bottles at night, read him books, and he slept in the same bed with me (which again, didn't cause any problems to him sleeping in his crib when we got home).



overall, just step in and do what you need to do. spend time with your son, tell him that it's an opportunity for you two to have a special time together. make sure your son talks to daddy every day (on the phone) and the rest will be fine. good luck!

Betsy - posted on 11/03/2009

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DH has been to Iraq twice and civilian job is very busy, so we deal with this a lot. I've found that talking about it when the kids want to is good, but not dwelling on it either - then they can't think of anything else. We stay busy, plan special things to do, have "mom and kid" dates, and used email a lot.

Shelley - posted on 11/03/2009

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Thank you. this is helpful, but I should also add that he's only 20 months old.

Lynsey - posted on 11/03/2009

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Ive never had to deal with this myself but have worked with parents who have. Some ov them get the parent that is leaving to giv the child a photo to have just for them in their bedroom, alot of phonecalls, also a calender thats easy for them to use. You can mark on the date you will be seeing daddy and each night they can cross off the days untill they do, that way they no they will see daddy again and that its not forever. Hope this is helpful

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