Talk as a Family before deployment:
Before a deployment, military members are usually preoccupied with many preparatory activities at their military unit, requiring extended hours and increased workload. As a result, military members come home tired, perhaps late, and are already reluctant to address painful issues of impending separation. Family members frequently collude in this. It is important to overcome this resistance and make plans with the Family as far ahead as possible.
Bestow, rather than “dump”, responsibilities on remaining Family members.
Concerns expressed by children after a parent has been deployed are that everything has changed at home and they now have to do “everything” that the deployed parent used to do. Discussions before deployment, in which trust and faith in a child’s ability to carry out a responsibility are expressed, are valuable times to help a child to feel he/she is important to the Family, is important to the deployed parent, and that he/she can help share a potential burden with the remaining parent. As a result, the remaining parent will have more time and energy for the children.
Make plans for the Family to continue to progress together, and include the deployed parent in ongoing projects.
It is important that the Family not put “life on hold” in anticipation of the return of the deployed parent. This will result in stagnation, loss of direction, and burn-out. Make plans for specific goals to be reached by each of the children and the remaining parent, as well as Family projects to work on. Help children design ways to communicate with the deployed parent, and relate progress made, so that the deployed parent can be part of that progress by seeing pictures, report cards, to which he/she can respond and provide encouragement. Make sure the remaining parent and deployed parent have specific plans on how to communicate. Keep regular but not too frequent communication. Include the deployed parent by keeping them informed and involved, but do not discuss problems and issues that he/she cannot do anything about.
Continue Family traditions and develop new ones.
One very stabilizing factor in a Family is routine and tradition. Don’t stop Friday pizza night, or Saturday outings because the parent has deployed. If anything, become more predictable in continuing traditions. Family bowling night, attendance at and fellowship at places of worship, and involvement in events with other Families are important ways to maintain a sense of stability and continuity. If the Family has not previously had regular Family traditions, now is a good time to start them. Encourage children to talk about these events and activities to the deployed parent in their communication.
Help children understand the finite nature of a deployment by devising developmentally appropriate time-lines.
Although the parents may not always know the exact time that the deployment will take place, it is still helpful to make an estimate, and then help a child craft a calendar of some type, illustrated and punctuated with events which help to define time for them. Examples to include are holidays, birthdays, special Family and extended Family events, school events, vacations, and other “markers” which help to divide up the time of deployment absence into short and finite time episodes. Create a paper timeline with dates, which extends around a room, which can be illustrated by the child, or make a chain made of illustrated paper links, which are dated and illustrated. These links can be cut ceremoniously on a daily basis.
I would like to thank Hooah 4 Health for providing much of this information to share with our service members and their families.
Independent filmmaker, author, happiness coach and speaker Lisa Cypers Kamen creates these blogs to entertain, enlighten and educate our service men and women along with their families as well as support our troops. To contact Lisa, email her directly at email@example.com and check out her websites at www.whatisyourhappiness.com , www.harvestinghappiness.com , and www.hh4heroes.org and listen to her on www.harvestinghappinesstalkradio.com or download her show at www.itunes.com.
Harvesting Happiness with Lisa Cypers Kamen brings to the airwaves a fresh talk radio approach promoting happiness, well-being and global human flourishing by presenting a diverse and proactive collection of the greatest thinkers and doers who have devoted their lives to creating a better world in which to live. She is an expert in creating happiness, finding pathways to happiness, and building a happiness formula in her happiness workshops. If you are looking for how to become a happier person, tune in weekly at www.toginet.com Wednesday’s at 12:00 pm to 1:00 pm EST.
Harvesting Happiness for Heroes is a pending 501(c)(3), non-profit corporation. Our mission objective is to offer support services to Warriors and Warrior families challenged by Combat Trauma, PTSD and post-deployment reintegration issues. We offer Battle Buddy workshops, family awareness training, online community support, one-on-one coaching services, as well as retreats for Warriors to decompress from battle and understand the tools available for them to adapt their military skills to civilian society.
Harvesting Happiness & Harvesting Happiness for Heroes provides positive psychology coaching tools to facilitate greater well-being. This communication is provided for education and inspiration. This communication does not constitute mental health treatment nor is it indicative of a private therapeutic relationship. Individuals desiring help for trauma, addiction and abuse related issues or other psychological concerns should seek out a mental health professional.
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