The Children Struggle Too!

first_imgWe all play a pivotal role in helping support our military children through the process of deployment. While a soldier’s job may be to fight for and protect our freedom it should never be at the cost of the well-being of his or her child. Become aware of and validate difficult feelings (guilt, resentment, anxiety, confusion, anger, or fear)Become more sensitive to their family structure and living arrangements (some children stay with grandparents- not parents)Acknowledge that children may sense of a loss of time with the deployed parentHelp children maintain a close distance relationship with the deployed parent (allow the child to make things for care packages, record voice notes, create cards and other small gifts online, play online games with the deployed parent, leave the deployed parent Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) messages, etc.)Encourage children to journal or write down feelings they are experiencingAbove all, listen to children. Sometimes children just need to talk without being pressured or judged by others. As every military family knows, deployment is a necessary part of the job. The enlisted service member has a responsibility to the branch of service to which they belong and their responsibilities are taken very seriously. But the family they leave behind is equally important.As a military families support professional, you recognize deployment as one of the most difficult times for families. And while there’s lots of information on how deployment affects the servicemembers and their spouses, what about the impact on their children left at home with one “solo parent” and one who is deployed?The Center for Military Health Policy Research did a recent study in an attempt to explore how deployment affects the academic, social, and emotional well-being of military children. The study looked at 1,500 children aged 11-17. All the children in the study had at least one parent in the military in that 57% had an Army parent, 20% had an Air Force parent, 17% had a Navy parent and the remainder of the parents were in the Coast Guard or Marine Corps.The results showed that children with a deployed parent reported:Increased levels of anxietyEmotional and behavioral difficultiesIncreased problem behaviors, (i.e., fighting)Greater difficulties in social and emotional functioningGreater school or peer-related difficultiesSo what can we do to support these children through one of the most difficult times of their lives? As support professionals we can help the adults in the child’s life to:center_img Have some ideas of your own on how to support children with a deployed parent? Please share them in the comments section below. We would love to hear what works for the families you serve. 🙂last_img

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