Families cope with stress of military deployment
A recent study published in the American Academy of Pediatrics puts in writing what Navy families have known for years -- deployments can create a lot of stress for kids...
A recent study published in the American Academy of Pediatrics puts in writing what Navy families have known for years — deployments can create a lot of stress for kids.
It also suggests military families can benefit from seeking support.
Despite how it looks, saying goodbye is not always the hardest part. Sonya’s family is living through deployment for the first time. Her husband of less than a year got surprise orders to Iraq. Her 11-year-old son is suffering.
“You know it’s hard that he found a dad — and then he has to leave him, you know,” says Sonya, a Navy wife.
“It’s different parenting in a military family, not worse than, just different than, because there’s special challenges,” said Margie Russell, a parent educator from Fleet and Family Services. The staff offers parent counseling classes.
“Maybe people think that’s where you’re supposed to go when you’ve gotten in trouble for doing something with your child, not necessarily that this is just a good resource I can use that’s gonna make me a better parent,” says Trina Laverty, counselor.
Sonya is learning a lot from them — how small children, worried about a deployed parent become clingy, and why older kids’ grades sometimes drop.
“The child will say ‘I’m having trouble concentrating or focusing – because I’m thinking about my dad or mom who’s away and I’m worried about what they’re doing’,” says Laverty.
Counselors told Sonya to get a stop sign for her son’s desk. When his mind starts to wander, the sign reminds him to focus. At home, a timer reminds him when to move from one task to the next. Most importantly he emails, calls or Skypes dad as much as possible.
“The more connection that’s made during the deployment, the easier homecoming is going to be,” says Russell.
And that can’t come soon enough.