By the Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program
More than 40 percent of National Guard and Reserve members have children—and nearly 30 percent of those children are below the age of 5, according to the U.S. Department of Defense. If you’re a Service member who’s also a parent, deployment can be tough on you and your loved ones.Fortunately, you can stay an integral part of your child’s life when you’re deployed. Here are five tips from the Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program to help you parent successfully across the miles:
1. Work as a team while apart: Before you deploy, assemble a team of trusted adults to support your kids while you’re away, including relatives, school staff, coaches and other caregivers. Your team’s goal is to create a secure, nurturing environment for your children and help them cope with the difficulty of missing a deployed parent.
2. Take care of yourself: Taking care of your family means that you need to take care of yourself. Seek support from your friends, chaplain or military mental health resources to help you find healthy ways to manage your stress. When you feel less stress, you’ll feel freer to focus on your family.
3. Stay involved: Even while you’re away, you can stay virtually involved in your family’s day-to-day life. Talk about homework, tests and school activities. Be sure to praise your kids for good grades or helping out around the house. Your children need to understand that you are available to give them guidance and positive discipline.
4. Find new ways to stay connected: Communication doesn’t have to happen in real time and can be done in a variety of ways thanks to today’s technology. Take advantage of mobile storytime apps (like Project Storytime), shared whiteboards (like Scriblink), social networks, and games that allow you to play together no matter where you are.
Raising children when you are deployed can be challenging, but your positive example can help them feel emotionally secure at home and engaged at school. Keeping communications open will create healthy relationships and allow you to be a better all-around parent, no matter where you are.
Need more family support? Search and register for a local Yellow Ribbon event for more ideas on staying close before, during and after deployment: www.yellowribbonevents.org.