When a service member is redeployed, the whole family is redeployed. For a child, multiple homecomings mean constant adjustments.
Wait to talk about redeployment
- It's important not to say anything about redeployment until orders are in hand and there are visible signs–such as Mom packing–that something notable is happening.
- Be reassuring while breaking the news
- Emphasize that deployments are part of the parent's job. Reassure your child, as many times as needed, that the redeployment is not a result of anything she did or said.
- Use the previous deployment as a model. Remind your child: "Remember when Dad went away last time? It was hard, but we pulled together as a family–and we will again." Go back to the ideas and strategies that worked before, and to the people you depended on. But stay flexible, too; each deployment is different.
Be there to talk…and listen
- Try to resist saying "don't feel bad" or "don't cry." The most important thing to your child is for you to hear her out.
- Don't be surprised if you have to answer the same questions over and over again. Your child might want to know, for instance, why her mom has to go away again, but a friend's parent doesn't have to go away at all. In this case, you might say something like: "Everyone has a different job. Your mom's job is one that needs to be done in another country (or a place far away)."
Spend time together before redeployment
- If you have more than one child, make time for each, doing something as simple as reading together or going to the park to play. You will send an important message: "You matter!"
Written by: Military Families Near and Far