Parenting isn’t easy. It becomes increasingly difficult if you are a mom who is deployed in the military and now must parent from a distance. While your children are being taken care of by your non-deployed spouse or family members at home, you are taking on the task of being a mom from sometimes thousands of miles away.
Prepare your kids before deployment
Before you leave, talk to your kids about where you will be sent and the positives about the work you are doing while deployed. Use maps, books and the internet to learn more about where you are going, the weather, the culture and more. It will be a nice learning experience for you and your kids. Talk about the children’s added responsibilities at home, who they can go to for support and how you will be able to maintain communication while you are gone. Encourage your children to share their feelings — even the negative ones. Also, let your kids help you pack to be actively involved in the process of your deployment.
Expect behavioral changes
Even the most easy-going, balanced children will go through some behavioral and emotional changes before, during and after your deployment. Talk with your spouse, family, kids’ teachers and other important people in your life about what to expect and how to handle it. Kids might act completely disinterested or highly emotional. They may start to have trouble at school, become isolated, turn angry or endure health problems. Be prepared to face these challenges with counseling and other professional assistance. Military OneSource offers support for every aspect of military life for those in the military and their families.
Communicate as much as possible
While you are deployed, communicate with your family as much as you can through letters, phone calls, video chats and any other means possible. You don’t want to feel like you are losing touch with your children. Create a video for your family about where you are and what you are doing when you are deployed. Encourage them to create scrapbooks, photo albums, journals and videos to share with you upon your return home.
Be involved with parenting decisions
You want to try to maintain a sense of stability and routine for your kids at home. Try to stay involved in the major parenting decisions whenever possible. When you talk to your children and family members, discuss the events and activities that are going on in their lives. It will be very stress relieving for both of you to keep the dialogue going. Reach out to your spouse and kids as much as possible, even if only in short conversations.
Though deployment can be very tough on families, it can also be a time where your children can foster their maturity, you can encourage their independence, and your entire family can strengthen their bonds. Though the concerns of how your deployment may affect your family are very real, this time may also nurture some positive growth opportunities as well.
Watch: Soldier homecoming surprises
A “best of” compilation of soldiers reuniting with their families.
Life vs. fiction
Want more on military moms? Check out a great read in the new SheKnows Book Lounge: Home Front by bestselling author Kristin Hannah, a new book about one military family struggling after an unexpected deployment threatens to tear this already-fragile family apart. Head to our new SheKnows Book Lounge now.