One reader is interested in advice for dealing with the issues that stem from having a pre-schooler during a deployment
My child is an infant, so I do not have any personal experiences to offer those who are experiencing toddler or pre-schooler meltdown, an angry and hurt child, or a depressed pre-teen during a deployment. However, I have gathered resources before for members of our FRG. I thought I could possibly offer my research skills and share these resources. Please add your favorite resources and stories in the comments, and I will update the post with new resources.
I am sure more veteran parents (bloggers and commenters, both) will chime in soon with stories that will have tips, advice, and support!
Programs and Organizations
These are organizations and programs that provide direct or indirect support. Even very young children may benefit from playing with other children in the same situation.
- Try your unit chaplain, he or she may have information about services on post and tips and suggestions
- For children old enough to discuss their feelings or at least play with other children, contact ACS, Youth Services, or other organizations on post for information about deployment support/play groups; even if your child is not old enough to express him or herself, you can find out about adult support groups, too, so you can get support and tips from other adults who are dealing with similar issues
- Operation Purple: FREE camps for children of deployed servicemembers
- United Through Reading: Helps deployed parents "read" to their children via videotape
- Military OneSource is available 24-7 to listen and offer advice and direct you to services, including FREE counseling.
- Dads at a Distance (DAADs) and Moms Over Miles (MOMs): Tips for strengthening your relationship with your child while you are away
- Military Baby: Has excellent tips for coping with deployment with toddlers, pre-schoolers, and school-aged children
- Surviving Deployment: tips for the whole family
- Talk, Listen, Connect: Helping Families During Military Deployment, starring Elmo! (FREE from Sesame Street, available in a bilingual version)
Books (AUSA suggestions, with descriptions from their website)
Books are a great way to explore stressful experiences and feelings with young children.
- Daddy Got His Orders, By Kathy Mitchell, Published by T.J. Publishing Company (www.basetj.com): A book about a 5 year old that learns why his daddy must leave for a deployment
- Daddy You're My Hero and Mommy You're My Hero, By Michelle Ferguson-Cohen, Published by Little Redhaired Girl Publishing (www.booksforbrats.net): A book designed to help kids (ages 4-8) deal with deployment of their father or mother
- To Keep Me SAFE, By Sarah R. Jones, M.A., Published by State of Growth Publishing (www.stateofgrowth.com): A young boy explains how he copes with the deployment of his friend, a soldier in the United States Army.
- A Year Without Dad, By Jodi Brunson, Published by: Ithaca Press: The story will give children a clear picture of how long a year is and how long the year might feel like when the parent is deployed.
- Dads at a Distance (DAADs) and Moms Over Miles (MOMs): Tips for strengthening your relationship with your child while you are away (See the websites for more information)
Pamphlets and Activity Books
If you are near an Army post, you can visit Army Community Services (ACS). Here are a few of the resources I was able to get from ACS:
- Check out these tips for guard families from an early post by Guard Wife, Keeping an Eye on the Little Guys (and Gals)
- Deployment Days: A Coloring Calendar for Military Families (Channing L. Bete Co., Inc. Item #50443C-02-00)
- My Book about When my Parent has to go Away (A Coloring Book; Channing L. Bete Co., Inc. Item #57521A-8-97; to re-order call 800-628-7733)
- We Get Ready for Deployment: An Activity Book (Ages 4-5; Channing L. Bete Co., Inc. Item #PS91766; to re-order call 800-628-7733)
- Ten Ways to Stay Involved With Your Children During Deployment (National Fatherhood Initiative - excerpted from their Deployed Fathers an Families Guide)
- The Military Child Education Coalition has a pamphlet about staying involved with schooling during a deployment
- Helping a Young Child Cope with a Parent's Deployment
- Supporting the Child Whose Military Parent is Deploying: Tips for Parents
Channing L Bete has tons more! You can order the materials for yourself (call 800-628-773 and the company also has a website (http://channing-bete.com/military/readi-deploy-reintegration.html) or ask on-post agencies to stock them.