Military Families

7 Mar

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Recently I came across this great nanny blogger and while reading through her many articles came across one about military families and talking with the children about parents who are deployed and away from home. I thought it was great and really applies to living here in the Washington DC area:

For children whose parents are in the military, life can be stressful. Some families hire a nanny to help while one parent is performing active duty, other families have the unique situation where both parents are deployed. Whatever the dynamic of the family, one thing is for certain: the best way to work with kids to help them understand their parents’ absence is to communicate. Here are some helpful things that might help you if you are the parent or nanny who is working with a child whose parent has been deployed

  1. Talk to the children about what is happening: discuss that mom or dad has to go away for a while and when they can be expected back.
  2. Don’t put life on hold: Make sure the family continues to plan goals and projects that include the deployed parent—don’t wait until the parent returns home in order to do things as a family.
  3. Give responsibilities to children so that they know they are trusted and counted on to have a responsible role in the family (that is age-appropriate) that is important.
  4. Continue family traditions (such as attending church, family bowling night, family movie night, etc.).
  5. Devise a plan to communicate with the deployed parent while they are gone. Include letter writing (include information about anything new with your family traditions, i.e., what movies you watched recently), email writing, or compile gift boxes with comforts from home (pictures, shaving cream, etc.).
  6. Listen to the child’s concerns and make sure you make time to hear them. Answer them as truthfully as possible. Be reassuring.
  7. Make time to play. The parent or caregiver who stays at home is the one the child interacts with most, so if this person is cross, melancholy, constantly worried or preoccupied, the child will be receptive to this. Make sure to communicate with children if you are having a short-tempered or worried day. Reassure them.
  8. Maintain a firm routine and consistent discipline. Children will feel safer within the same guidelines and with the same structure as they had in the past. Yes, they may have more responsibilities now, but the way you show them you love them hasn’t changed.
  9. Maintain a close relationship with the school and the child’s teacher. Make sure you communicate the deployment of the parent(s) with the teacher and ask them to be aware of signs of stress for the child. Be proactive and intervene early if the teacher sees any change in performance, concentration, behavior, or mood.

Preschool-age children: Choose books to read to children that support family love and how families are forever. Take pictures of the parent who is deployed and hang them up in the child’s room. Reassure the child that he/she will be missed, but that they will be okay and mom/dad will be home to see them again. Develop rituals that include the deployed parent in the child’s daily life (songs, stories, props, activities).

Elementary School-age children: Talk to children about the parent’s deployment and ask them what they think the parent will be doing. Find out what interests them about the parent’s deployment and incorporate these interests into a planned activity such as letter writing. Find ways to help the child feel useful rather than helpless. Some ways the child might find useful is to network with other children their age whose parents are also deployed and to form a community with these children. Provide the child with a secure and caring environment. Listen to any negative feelings they might have and reassure them. Communication is key to making this age of child feel safe.

For more blogs from this awesome nanny blogger feel free to check out nannypro.com 

Bye, I’m off to Blacksburg! 

Sara 

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