M.M. asks from Virginia Beach, VA on January 07, 2007
Explaining Deployment to a 22 Month Old
My son adores his father. He calls for him throughout the day. When he hears his car in the driveway, his eyes light up and he runs for the door.
My husband deployed yesterday. So far my son hasn't noticed. He's a bit used to duty days and not seeing him for a day or two at a time, but pretty soon he's going to notice. I've tried to explain to him that Daddy is going to be gone for a while, but I don't think he has a grasp of the language yet and just stares at me blankly.
How do I deal with him being old enough to miss his father but not old enough to comprehend why he's gone and that he'll be back?
K.E. answers from Norfolk on January 18, 2007
I'm the leader for my husbands' boats Family Readiness Group, & this is a common concern with all families. I've attached a list of books that are helpful to children preparring for deployment. Sesame Street also just released a movie about deployment. Since our child is around the Sesame Street age, you might want to check into that!!! I know they also have one from a while back with Elmo.
• "A Yellow Ribbon for Daddy" by Anissa Mersiowsky
• "Daddy Is a Soldier!" by Kirsten Hallowell
• "While You Are Away" by Eileen Spinelli
• "A Year Without Dad" by Jodi Brunson
• "Daddy, Will You Miss Me?" by Wendy McCormick
• "Uncle Sam’s Kids: When Duty Calls" by Angela Sportelli-Rehak
• "Making New Friends" by Jacqueline H. Blumenstock
• "Mommy, You're My Hero!" by Michelle Ferguson-Cohen
• "Daddy, You're My Hero!" by Michelle Ferguson-Cohen
• "Our 50 States: A Family Adventure Across America" by Lynne Cheney
• "The Blue Day Book for Kids: A Lesson in Cheering Yourself Up" by Bradley Trevor Greive
• "H Is for Honor: A Military Family Alphabet" by Devin Scillian
• "A is for America" by Devin Scillian
• "Dear Soldier: Heartfelt Letters from America's Children" by Barbara W. Baldwin, Amber Baldwin D'Amico, Heather Baldwin Duff
• "I Miss You!: A Military Kid's Book About Deployment" by Beth Andrews
• "The Five Love Languages of Children" by Gary Chapman, Ross Campbell
• "The Magic Box: When Parents Can't Be There to Tuck You In" by Marty Sederman, Seymour Epstein
• "Night Catch" by Brenda Ehrmantraut
• "Lulu's Rose Colored Glasses" by Gretchan Pyne
• "An American Flag for Their Father" by Annmarie Hickey Georgopolis
• "A Very Long Time" by Geri Timperley
• "Ned And The General: A Lesson About Deployment" by Ron Madison
• "Daddy's in Iraq, But I Want Him Back!" by Carmen R. Hoyt
• "When Is Daddy Coming Home?" by Richard Carlton Haney
• "Mommy, Don't Go" by Elizabeth Crary
• "My Daddy is a Soldier" by Kirk Hilbrecht
• "Deployment Journal for Kids" by Rachel Robertson
• "The Kissing Hand" by Audrey Penn
• "War? I'm Scared!" by WeWriteKids
• "A Paper Hug" by Stephanie Skolmoski
• "The Hero in My Pocket" by Marlene Lee
• "Footsteps Around the World: Relocation Tips for Teens" by Beverly D. Roman
J.R. answers from Norfolk on January 08, 2007
You can get a video through your ship's family support group or your ombudsman. It is Elmo and from what I hear really good.
Most ships have a program where your hubby can read a book on video. If not have him make an audio recording to your son. Pick out stories with your son that he wants Daddy to tell him.
Your husband will be missing your son too. Turn on the recorder and let your husband witness the daily life. You will all get through deployment better.
L.B. answers from Norfolk on January 08, 2007
First let me say, God Bless you and your son while you go through this deployment. My husband just retired from 20 yers in the navy. When my daughter was your son's age...I use to put a picture of daddy by her bed. At night she would say her prayers and kiss daddy good night. In the morning, she would kiss daddy good morning. Also, my husband made some cassette tapes of him singing and tellign stories on it that she listened too at night (he can still do this if he has access to a cassette player that records. Just send him some blank tapes and a few story books to read. He can share the books with other dads on the ship as well for them to make tapes too). Also, if you have a computer, your husband can send emails to your son and you can read them to him and even print them out and make a keepsake book. Your husband can also have photos taken of him where ever he is and email them to your son. My grandson is a year old and already knows the "computer". The casette tapes are a big deal though. my daughter is 19 and still has her tapes from "daddy".
Hope this helps. Good luck and God Bless. Oh...if your son goes to daycare, some daycares are very understanding with the seperation and will allow the children to bring photos to day care. You could take a photo of you and your husband, get a dollar store frame (no glass, all plastic or cloth) and let him take that to day care for nap time.
A.K. answers from Norfolk on January 08, 2007
M.D. answers from Norfolk on January 08, 2007
I understand what you are going through. My husband is in the Navy and deployed about the same age as your son. He didn't understand at all either. I just showed him pictures of the ship, at that age, there isn't much you can do. My husband just got home from deployment and is preparing to leave again for summer surge. Our son is 7 and had a very difficult time with it. One thing that helped us is Walmart put together an Elmo dvd about dad deploying. It also shows children and families and there is also a section for parents. After our son watched this, he understood a little better. I think you can probably order free off of their website. or, your ship support group will have a huge supply of them, that is where I got mine, so make sure you go to the meetings. Our husbands get all the training in the world for dealing with deployment, but us wives get on-the-job training. It is tough, but stand strong.
N.I. answers from Melbourne on January 08, 2007
Hello my name is N. I have a little girl that is three now but her daddy left also about the same time as your hudband did for my daughter. And i know what you are talking about the kids being daddies little angels. The kids do get use to them being gone easer then we do. Like my daughter had a hard time for maybe the first week if that long. You just will have to acting like mommy and daddy to him now so he can get usto you only being around. I hope this has helped just a little bit if any. Good luck to you guys and may God Bless you all too.
B.S. answers from Norfolk on January 08, 2007
My husband deployed to Iraq when my daughters were 2 and 3. He left 2 weeks after my youngest 2nd birthday. There are 2 things that I would suggest. Stay active and busy; keep a very structured schedule. Of course they missed Daddy and had trouble sometimes. If we were busy, they didn't have as much time to worry. Keeping a structured schedule help me find time for myself which helped me stay positive for them. They were reassured by the structure of knowing what was going to happen. They go to bed at 8, they napped at 1, they knew fun things would happen in between.
The first week my husband way gone I got a mini tape recorder. The girls could talk into it whenever they wanted. I sent another recorder to my husband with his own tapes. He would send them back. I'm really involved with our church. They have functions for military spouses and their children. It helped to be able to get out of the house. We also got Build A Bear toys with Daddy's voice saying goodnight. That really helped with bed time. By the time the deployment is over, hopefully it won't be as bad as you expect it to be.