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Preparing Children for Deployment

My husband and son are pretty close. They have daily rituals together, such as bath time and story time.

Weekly rituals include haircuts and lollipops.

Father and son bonding time was recently interrupted by a two-week TDY (temporary duty) that my husband had to go on.

There really is no way to adequately explain to a two-year old that his “Dada” is going to be gone for two weeks. After my husband left, my son often knocked on doors in the house, looking for his “Dada.”

I tip my hat to single parents. When my husband left, I had to temporarily take over my husband’s duties in addition to my own. I had to struggle to find babysitters and basically hold down the fort alone.

The good thing is that my husband was able to call and talk to us pretty regularly on the phone. My son would take the phone and walk around the house, babbling to his “Dada.”

I was pretty excited about my husband coming home this past weekend and I had been telling my son all week, “Dada’s coming home. Dada’s coming home!”

He would laugh and keep on playing.

On the day of my husband’s return, I constantly talked about “Dada.”

Despite my efforts to prepare our son, I wasn’t prepared for our son’s response.

When my husband pulled up in the garage, I told him, “Dada’s home, Dada’s home!” However, our son was more interested in watching “Brainy Baby” and learning alphabets than saying hello to his Dad.

Throughout the day, he clinged to me like static and was kind of cautious around his Dad, as if he was someone new. It really was strange because my husband has gone TDY before and our son didn’t act like that.

We went out to eat together and our son didn’t want to get in the car unless he saw me getting in too. When my husband resumed bath time duties, our son cried for me.

Good thing my husband didn’t take it personally. He understood that sometimes, there is a reacquaintance period when you leave for long periods of time.

Each day is getting better and our son is opening up more and more towards his “Dada.” But that leads me to the next thing…

Dear hubby will be deploying soon.

I wonder how our son will act when he returns? Thankfully, it will not be a long deployment, but long enough for me to definitely call on Jesus for help as I become a single mom for a couple of months.

The two-week TDY was a test run and I think we will be able to cope and manage okay. I will have to get out of my comfort zone and ask others for help a lot more than I’m used to, but that’s the route life takes you down sometimes.

Here is my question for today… how do you help your children adjust to deployments and the return home? Our son is just two, so if you have any tips for young children, it would be nice.

Oh yeah, and while you are at it, we would appreciate your prayers as we go through this transition that many military families face on a regular basis.

Have a blessed day!

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{ 5 comments… add one }
  • Sisters Of Honor August 1, 2009, 2:25 PM

    We are not a military family but i admire the women who can hold it down while their husbands are away. I also have a page on my website dedicated strictly for military wives. It is a way to help others who may be going through and trying to cope with their husband's deployment.

    Please feel free to share on the website. We are blessed to be a blessing.

    Visit http://www.sistersofhonor.org and click on Inspirationals and then go to Military wives.

    Peace and Blessings.

  • Proverbs 27:19 July 29, 2009, 12:32 AM

    Hey! I had the same problem with our oldest daughter as well and now we have three but I still haven't figured it out for the younger two.

    Our oldest, she is now able to understand the concept of counting down and that helps her. She writes letters and sends care packages. I allow her to pick out whatever she wants to put in the box and she usually draws a picture andthen sends snacks that she knows he likes.

    Our son, second child, asks everyday when is my daddy coming home from work. When he sees an airplane in the sky he says that that's his daddy coming from work. Each time they talk on the phone he questions the return and why does daddy have to leave to work because he can work at home like he did before!

    Now with our third, he has not deployed or went on a TDy, however, she and I did go away for two and a half days to visit a friend and when we returned her eyes were really bright and smile big when she saw her daddy. She "ran" to him.


  • Christian Mommy Writer July 28, 2009, 2:42 PM

    @Chele – Thanks for the prayers!

    @Becky – I love the calendar idea. I use snapfish too, so maybe we will try that.

  • Becky July 28, 2009, 10:08 AM

    Jer and I don't have any kids of our own, but we do have two nephews who we are very close with. Those boys are my husbands world – the oldest one (he's 5)is taking it very hard that Jer's deploying. So, what we did to make the process a little bit easier for him to understand and keep track of was we made a calendar using snapfish.com. Jer uploaded pics of him and the boys and wrote notes to them on each month. things like, "send me lots of pictures." "i miss you a lot" stuff like that. and he's giving it to him with a marker so that he can cross out the days he's gone. there are 2 calendar options – 12 month or 18 month. my husband's deployment is AT LEAST 12 months right now, so we chose the 18 month calendar to be on the safe side. and we also left any mention of leave off of it so that the kids weren't dissapointed if his leave got screwed up/changed.

  • Chele July 28, 2009, 9:58 AM

    Well we are not a military family. But I commend you both for all you do! Although I was at one time a single mother with 2 boys (at the time ages were 1 and 2 years old). Being a single mother is very hard and you are in that category while your husband is away. I will definitely keep you and your family in my prayers!

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