Recently a new Navy spouse posted a comment asking whether she should take her children on a 9 hour car ride to see her husband graduate from boot camp, only to turn around and tell him goodbye again. She was asking for advice about what to do.
Well, in my opinion, there is really no right or wrong answer to this. Every child and every family is different. But I will say that children are MUCH more resilient then we realize. I found this out when my husband was wounded and I had to send my kids to my sister's for almost three months. I was soooo worried about them, but they were okay.
So here's my perspective...
Our children are part of our family. There will be times when it is better not to have them with you, and times when it is very important that they are part of what you are doing. I try to involve my kids in as much "military stuff" as I can - even if it means long car rides and/or saying goodbye to Daddy. It's not always easy, but I think it is important for all family members involved.
Our children are growing up in a military world and it is our job, as parents or caregivers, to let them experience life, as well as protect them. We can't always protect them from upset or heartache, but being there with them to help them FEEL and express and maybe understand why they are sad (or whatever the feeling may be) is part of our job, too. Yes, it's a tough job raising kids, but it's part of life.
I don't consider myself a child expert or the perfect mother (not by a LONG shot!), but I do my best to expose my kids to the good and not-so-good of military life. Whether you take your children with you to an event where they will have to turn around and say goodbye is a decision you have to make. I have done it with my kids and do my best just to be there for them. My kids still ask a lot of questions about Iraq and my husband being wounded (my kids are 7 and 3, by the way). I answer as honestly as I can, but on a level where they will (hopefully) understand.
I guess another thought is to look back at your own childhood. Things weren't always easy, but we learned from the good and not-so-good and those "things" make us who we are today.