Soldier and Family Readiness Group
Children & Separation
Children are always affected by the soldier's absence. They can sense when the parents are upset and when they are calm. They often test the spouse
as soon as the soldier leaves to find out if they will bend more when the soldier is gone. They will also test the soldier when he returns to see
if they'll bend.
Consistency is important with children. Be consistent with their discipline. Don't threaten the children about what is going to happen when the soldier returns home.
When the soldier returns, children behave in a variety of ways, including hugs and kisses, but also with feelings of hurt, anger, and hostility. When
the soldier is gone, children often become the main focus of the spouse. When the soldier returns, they often feel they are not "number
Before deployment, both the soldier and spouse should spend time explaining, at the child's level, why the soldier is leaving, with whom, and how long they will be gone. The departing parent should spend time individually with each child before they deploy.
During deployment, display pictures of the missing parent at the kid's eye level. Let each child have a picture of him or herself with the soldier in their room. Routine is important. Keep the same rules and family schedule. But, make opportunities for special outings, especially on weekends and holidays when both parents would usually have been home. Encourage them to write letters and enclose schoolwork or drawings.
Make homecoming a family reunion. Mom and Dad can vacation alone later. Expect some anger and insecurity from the kids. The returning soldier should set aside a date with each child to reestablish the relationship. Spend as much time as possible as a family, without outsiders, at the beginning. Postpone visits with relatives and friends for a few days.