While my husband is deployed, how can I help my children cope?
No two children — even within the same family — will react to a parent's deployment in exactly the same way. There are a few things, though, that all children seem to benefit from when their world suddenly changes.
The first is a sense of stability. In the face of big changes, even small things that stay the same — like a simple bedtime or mealtime routine — can be extremely reassuring.
The second is an acknowledgment of their feelings — both the good and the bad. When a parent leaves, kids may experience a whole range of emotions, from pride to fear to anger. Help yours express their strongest feelings. Drawing pictures, writing letters, or keeping a journal are all great ways to do this.
Keep in mind that kids who feel angry usually are upset by the situation and those perceived as causing it, even though they might express their anger toward others.
Third, kids need to maintain a bond with the parent who's away. Whether it's writing letters, looking at pictures and videos, saying a special prayer, counting down days on a calendar, finding where mommy or daddy is on a map, or making a scrapbook, creative ways to stay connected are important.
And finally, children need the remaining parent to stay emotionally healthy. It's easy to feel exhausted and overwhelmed when you're handling everything on your own. Offset those negative feelings by taking good care of yourself and getting extra support from relatives, friends, and other military families who've been in your shoes — particularly if you're finding it hard to give your kids the positive attention they need.
Reviewed by: D'Arcy Lyness, PhD
Date reviewed: July 2015
|American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) AACAP offers up-to-date information on child and adolescent development and issues.|
|American Association for Marriage and Family Therapists This organization provides listings of marriage and family therapists nationwide.|
|Worrying About War - for Kids You may hear stories about war on TV or the radio, or hear adults talking about it. It can be scary, upsetting, and confusing, especially if you know someone in the military. Find out what you can do if you're worried.|
|When a Parent is Deployed When a parent is deployed, there are ways to help kids cope and foster the resiliency they need to endure during the separation.|
|Helping Kids Handle Worry All kids to worry at times, and some may worry more than others. But parents can help kids manage worry and tackle everyday problems with ease. Find out how.|
|When Loved Ones Get Deployed It's difficult having someone you care about sent overseas to fight in a war. These tips can help you cope.|
|Telling a Child About Deployment I'm being deployed. How do I tell my child?|
|How Do I Handle the Transition When My Husband Returns From Active Duty? Find out what the experts have to say.|
|My Son Is Being Deployed; How Do I Help My Other Kids Cope? Find out what the experts have to say.|
What to expect when coming to Akron Children's
For healthcare providers and nurses
Residency & Fellowships, Medical Students, Nursing and Allied Health
For prospective employees and career-seekers
Our online community that provides inspirational stories and helpful information.