When a parent is deployed with the military it can be very traumatic for the children left behind. Having things for them
to do, that makes them feel a part of the family and helping the parent who is gone, is really important.
Here is a list of things you can plan that should help ease the pain of having mom or dad gone.
We all have happy and sad feelings about our parent leaving. It is important that we talk about them with our families. Have the child (children) make two lists. One with YOUR HAPPY FEELINGS and one with YOUR SAD FEELINGS. Sit down and discuss these lists and explain the feelings that they don't understand or answer questions.
Get a map and place it on the wall and show the kids where mom or dad has gone. They can stick a pin in it or place a small flag on the map. They might get a sheet of stickers and put them where the parent is, where they are, where the grandparents are, etc.
Get the kids a tablet with lined paper and show them how to write letters to the parent. Here they can also use stickers and draw pictures.
Make a list of things that kids can do to cheer the family up like: do some chores, write letters, sing a song they wrote,
tell their best joke and add your ideas to the list.
You might want to take a calendar and mark special days and holidays that will be happening while the parent is gone.
If the child (children) are old enough to write, suggest they keep a journal (buy them a book to write in). Then when
the parent comes home they can share the journal with the parent. That gets the parent caught up on events and thoughts the kids had while they were gone. Another thing you could do is tear out the page and send it to the parent each week.
You might have a cookout and invite other friends whose mom or dad is also deployed. You could also invite a new family that just moved into the neighborhood.
If you have a major holiday, i.e., Thanksgiving, while the parent is gone, turn on the tape recorder during the dinner so
mom or dad can hear the conversations. Have the kids make a list of all the food that you had to eat. Take lots of
pictures to send. Have everyone say a special message to the parent.
Have the kids write a poem and send it. Have the kids make a secret code, write a message in the code and send both to the parent. Another neat letter to send would be made of words cut from the newspaper or magazines.
Take pictures of important events: new haircuts, birthdays, parties, etc. Let the kids take pictures. Have them take
pictures of the family pets and tell a story to go along with the pictures.
Always remind the child that whether it is mom or dad that is at home or away....they are always a family.
About the Author:
Elizabeth Ann Scaling Tucker is a retired grandmother of 5. She retired after 35 1/2 years with the Department of Defense. In
her retirement years, she is a grandchild sitter and an assistant webmaster for family websites. You can see one of the websites at http://www.theclassicbabystore.com