Deployment is stressful for everyone involved. It can be a particularly tough time for children. Some of the reactions you might notice include:
high levels of emotional response
difficulty concentrating in school
feeling unsure or depressed
These are normal reactions to the pressure they are feeling. One important thing a deployed parent can do is stay in touch. Send emails and pictures if possible. Ask about school. One of our dads could only get a call through in the middle of the night. He has been leaving messages on the answering machine for his kids to listen to when they wake up. What a great idea! Of course, those long distance hugs benefit everyone involved.
We all need to be careful to keep adult conversations and worries between adults. Small children have big ears and, though they might not look like they are paying attention, they pick up on everything adults say. We need to be sure the information they get is appropriate to their level of understanding.
We are committed to you and your family. Through adversity can come great reward. With the right approach our children will emerge strong, loving, respectful and feel a great sense of honor about the service and work of their parents.
These brochures also provide helpful information for parents and educators who are helping children deal with a parent's deployment: