When one parent is deployed, children of military families often face emotional challenges. The parent remaining at home can take steps to minimize those challenges and make a deployment as positive as possible. A deployment will never be fun, but you also do not have to be miserable for its duration.During a deployment, establish a routine. Having one parent gone is an interruption of a child’s life and creating a routine can counteract that. Staying busy will also help children focus less on the deployment. This is the time to take special classes, visit local attractions and enjoy time with family.
Include the deployed parent in the new routines and activities as much as possible. Keep a journal of things to tell the parent and include them in weekly letters or phone calls. Have the deployed parent record bedtime stories before leaving and include them as part of a bedtime routine. Take pictures of the parent, a doll with the parent’s face or a special object representing the parent along on special outings and include it in pictures or activities.
Don’t be afraid to talk about the deployment too. Have a countdown jar full of pieces of candy or marbles to represent the number of days the parent will deployed and remove one from the jar each day. Talk with children about their emotions and allow them to ask whatever questions they have. Giving children the attention and support they need will help make the deployment easier to handle.