The search for parenting resources is an effort that I have spent many hours on. The children's questions started pouring in before the soldiers left our house. I anticipated my near future. After the guests had left and it was just the four of us, I formulated a parenting equation in my head. It looked something like this:
3 boys + Mommy - Daddy + hurt x 18 years = 1 task larger than the Alps
=Are you kidding me?!?
This was not my first equation. The months prior to my husband's death, I had one very similar for combat deployments.
With my focus on our boys, I dreamed of the answers to their tough questions falling out of the sky and landing in my lap.A favorite one included finding a super-mom and a highly-decorated combat veteran. Shrink them both and keep them in my pocket. Surely that combination would have every answer that I needed, right there on the spot. I know this sounds crazy. I laughed at it then, as I do now. Back then, for a millisecond, it was both funny and dreamy. In reality, it never worked out as I had dreamed. I searched and searched, but never found answers that I felt were top-notch and useful in our day-to-day life.
This is my plea to my survivor gal pals and my milspouse gal pals, and I think it will help all of us.
Please flood this comment board with examples of what you have done for your children that has helped them at a time when they've missed their parent. Post anything you have done that has helped your child to cope with their emotions related to life as the child of a warrior.The information that we offer each other might be applicable in both deployment and casualty scenarios.Feel free to post something, even if you feel it would only apply to one specific situation. It could be useful for others in that same situation.
Deployments and casualties find a common ground in that our children miss their parent who is gone, or away.In both cases we (the parent at home) provide the daily care and immediate guidance for our kids. Our children experience an array of emotions while trying to make sense of a parent fighting in combat, or a parent lost in combat. Long term or short term, our struggles are very similar.
We are each other's best resource because we've lived it first hand.
Okay, I'll start.
Only one day after learning of his father's death, my five year old came marching out of his room suited up with all of his play battle gear.
He and his friends told me that they were going to get the bad guys that hurt his Daddy. He was feeling angry and said he wanted revenge. I had to think fast. Here's what I came up with. First, I told him that the Army would not let him go until he was older, and that even if he waited until he was older, he would need a battle plan. When I gave them the crayons and paper, they went right to work on said plan.
They talked about every geographic detail as they drew it out on paper. Three of them wanted to parachute in, and the other two wanted to travel by submarine. When they finished I gathered them together along with their drawings. We talked and all agreed that the plans needed to be buried in a secret place until they were old enough to go.As I fetched the shovel, the kids picked the perfect spot in our back yard. We finished back filling the hole and took a kool-aid break. Then they were off to play. They have never spoken of wanting revenge again.(This may be applied to a situation when a little boy is feeling angry that he can't go with his dad on deployment too.)