Military Deployment

Updated on July 22, 2008
L.U. asks from Glens Falls, NY
86 answers

Any advice for a 3 1/2 year old's first deployment experience? All she knows is Daddy's going on a very long trip, like other trips he's taken recently, but longer.

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OMGosh, I have not taken the time to look on here in a few weeks. I am amazed and touched by all of the wonderful, heartfelt responses. I will definately read throught them and try to take them all in.

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K.P.

answers from Washington DC on

Hi, I have to respond as my husband has been gone for almost 6 months, and I go between being totally depressed and being okay. It is harder than I expected, and I have been a stay at home mom and a professional person. If you need support or just want to vent, feel free, I have 2 boys, and am very busy just trying to get things done that need to be done on a daily basis! Good luck, the first month is the hardest, so write me if you feel like you need someone who knows what you are going through! I feel that in some ways I can only get support from other military spouses who know what I am going through! K.

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S.W.

answers from Los Angeles on

Hi, I am the author of Sammy's Soldier, it is a picture book for children who have family members being deployed. I has been featured on Navy Wife Radio, Army Wife Radio, and SpouseBuzz Radio. I wrote it for young children (I am a counselor) to help normalize the deployment process...you can check it out on my blog www.healinglittleheroes.com...also you might be able to meet up with other moms that have husbands deploying on my blog, many wrote in to win a copy of the book. Hope this helps :)

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K.S.

answers from Las Vegas on

My little one had just turned 3 when we found out my hubby was deploying. Now she's about to be 4 and he's still over there. I think we did the best possible to prepare for it, so the first several months weren't too bad. Mid-way point in the deployment seems to be our roughest. Both my girls are acting out. When my little one gets upset, she throws down on the floor and cries for her daddy. The bigger one has been acting out, defying me, and now acting up in school (pre-K). You do the best you can and hope it's good enough. And the whole time, just remind yourself that you did the best you can with what you had at the time and don't beat yourself up if or when they start to act up, because it's part of the normal cycle of emotions. Both of them know and can tell you "my daddy's in Iraq."

FYI and very important to know: MilitaryOneSource is available via the phone 24/7 for ANYTHING. If you have questions, or even if you're just stressing out because the kids aren't listening. They are there for us. They can answer just about any question and lead you in the right direction for other issues (such as guiding you through the Tricare maze). MilitaryOneSource 1-800-342-9647

I have two girls, 18 months apart in age, current ages 3 & 5. My hubby is deployed since June 2007.

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G.H.

answers from Sacramento on

Go to www.myhuggy.com and have your husband record messages for your daughter. Every time she hugs the bear, she will hear daddy's voice and stay connected with him, so will you. Read the story on the website - it's how Huggy Bear got started. A dad came home from tour and went to hug his two year old, but the child was afraid of daddy b/c he didn't know him. So Aunt Lee created My Huggy Bear, and they have donated tons of them to military kids, foster homes, underprivileged kids, etc. The cool thing about Huggy is you can record off of an answering machine and the recording device is detachable so daddy can get a bunch and send them to you with pre-recorded messages whenever he wants, up to 20 mins! I read stories to My Huggy, and when I was gone my kids could listen to me read them a story before bed. I also gave one to my mom and grandma for Christmas and told them how much they mean to me. It's way cool. I appreciate your family's service and pray for a safe return. Thank you. G.

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M.H.

answers from Stationed Overseas on

Hi! I'm a mom of 4 and this is my fourth deployment. You can email me directly ANYTIME if you need advice. You name it, I've been through it! Pregnant with a high risk pregnancy during deployment and can't take care of your kids?? I might have some advice on where to go for help! My oldest (7 years old, mildly autistic) has been through it all and is still doing well, despite ALL of the challenges. I've had surgeries during deployment, LITERALLY - I've been through almost anything... except for the worst. And we won't go there right now.

SO - I would say, to our mom with the 3 1/2 year old - definitely go with the advice given before. I, personally, stay away from the FRG because overall I've had mostly negative experiences in the LONG run. Short term, I've found the information helpful, but rear-d connections worked well for that, too. BUT, if you find comfort in the FRG - then GO FOR IT. If you only have one child, then you are blessed to be free enough to take many field trips and get out as often as you can. And you SHOULD! Definitely order the Elmo DVD from Military OneSource. ( www.militaryonesource.com ) Under DEPLOYMENT, THEN DEALING WITH DEPLOYMENT, THEN BOOKLETS & RECORDINGS. Or you can copy and paste the whole link below into your browser.

http://www.militaryonesource.com/skins/MOS/display.aspx?M...

My kids LOVE the DVD. My two year old loves it, my 5 year old loves it, and even my 6 & 7 year old enjoy watching it. And I really didn't think they would. They're not even into Sesame Street.

Okay - I'm long winded, so I'll sign off. Email me if you need anything. Take care - and good luck. You have the right idea. I like the idea of making yourself your own "Boss of your Household". It would make you feel more in control rather than feeling like the kids are in charge.

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N.T.

answers from Lawton on

My hubby is currently deployed and it's our first deployment. At first my 5 yr old would act out and he even threatened to run away. I guess it was his way of coping with daddy being gone. I bought a map of the world and put a star where we are and a heart where daddy is. He asked me why a heart and i told him b/c daddy took all our hearts with him so that he would know we love him and come home to us as soon as he can. We also made a paper chain with interesting facts about Iraq and facts about daddy growing up. There are pictures everywhere and we see each other on webcam almost daily. It's not easy and anyone that tells you it is hasn't done it before. All of the advice you've recieved is great, just remember the 'me' time. I forgot about that in my fulltime job with the one starting kindergarten and the other only a few months old when daddy left and got way over stressed. So be careful it's really easy to forget that. If you need anything, please feel free to email me anytime.

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T.S.

answers from Omaha on

My hubby has deployed a lot over the last 2 years, we have a 3 yr old. I will not lie, it has been tough, and I have been royaly P/Oed @ the Air Force for taking him away at times. There were a few things that I feel helped me and our son to get through the deployments, they are.....communication, the more you can talk with your spouse, the easier it is, I have done one deployment with GREAT communication and one with Horrible communication, I think you know which one I prefere. We were not allowed to use webcams, but that would have been great!....The pictures and video, I took video of hubby reading books and doing bed time with our son. When our son had a bad day of missing daddy, we would sit together with the books that daddy was reading and do bed time with daddy. OMG what a life saver that was! The Elmo DVD was great too!....keeping busy, I found this to help the time go quicker, my date book was always full. I work out of our home, doing hair, so I would set asside when to do hair (if it was mum's with kids coming over, that was great because it was a playdate for our son as well as fun doing hair for me;)), we also did small trips and met up with friends for lunch or at the playground etc etc......I have started our son at a pre-school, I needed some me time, it is hard when it is only you 24/7, I go to the gym and burn off some anger while he is at school twice a week, this has been my saving grace. I need it to keep my emotions in check.....my final bit, I planned a trip for us as a family for when he was home. I never knew exactly when he would becoming home, so I only booked reservations if totally needed, everything else I researched to death and found the best deals I could. I am sure that I saved us a ton of cash just killing time online researching for good prices etc etc.....My final line of defence was going to church and praying a lot! I made a lot of great friends and built up a great support group at our church through his deployments!
That is how I fought the deployment blues with our little guy. Remember, you #1 concern is YOU! You can not take care of you child if you do not take care of yourself first!
GOD BLESS!
T.

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C.C.

answers from Goldsboro on

I've been through 2 deployments with children and we are currently going though another 6 month TDY. I have three children and I know your pains. We have done lots of things in the past. On my husbands second deployment, we both kept diaries. Everyday, at the end of the day and before I went to bed, I would write a little snippet of our day. So when he got home, we stayed up late reading each other's diaries and recapping on our separation.

Regarding your daughter. I would continually dialogue with her. My son, Logan, was 2 1/2 the first deployment and then he just turned 4 on the second deployment. I say this because I think it is important to be honest with your children. It is okay that she knows her daddy is deployed. Telling her he is on a trip is confusing and doesn't necessarily encourage growth from the experiece. She will catch on that something is not right with this "trip."

Assure her that daddy is keeping people safe. Help her to develop a sense of pride for what her daddy is doing. Tell her that Daddy is a hero. I compared daddy to Spider-man, in that, daddy is there to help people who are less fortunate than us. Daddy is there to keep us safe. I'm so proud of Dad. When he comes home then it will be another daddy or mommy's job to keep people safe. You might be surprised at how well your daughter will accept this explanation. I don't know, every child is different and you know best for your child. Good luck!

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M.P.

answers from Tampa on

I am a mommy of 2 beautiful little girls (5 y.o. and 18 months) who is currently deployed in the Middle East. This is my first deployment and the longest I've been away from my family. It has been a looong and trying almost 4 months so far and the only things that keeps me going are seeing them via web cam and knowing that this won't be forever.

I can tell you what I did to prepare my children for my deployment. I created a little photo album with pics of mostly me and I send new pics of me every so often so my husband can add them to the album. He says the girls flip through the album quite often and they love it when I send new pics.

I showed my 5 y.o. where I was going to on Google Earth so she could visualize it. She loves to see the globe spin. LOL.

I've sent DVD recordings of me reading books to them along with the books. I did that twice so far and my husband says they watch the video and read along almost daily.

Sending letters and cards is free for the military while overseas so I try to send a note everyday. My 5 y.o. especially loves getting mail addressed to her. LOL.

I send them clothes, local toys and souvenirs from the Middle East and they love that.

I think the key, at least for me, is to keep the communication lines open as often as you can. If you and your husband have webcams, that would be the most ideal way to communicate. If that's not possible, then phone calls as often as possible are just as nice. This will also help boost morale for your husband too.

Good luck!

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S.A.

answers from Kokomo on

I completely understand your situation, my husband is deployed right now as well. We have a 2.5 yr old and one on the way. One thing that you may want to look into is the book program, I am not sure the exact name but can be found on the USO website. what they do is video tape your husband reading a book your child and they will send it to you. They only do it at certain locations but it is a great option if he is close to the location. Another thing we have is Skype, it an internet phone the base gave us for free, check with your base before you purchase one. You each download it on your computer and you can talk computer to computer for free. Most deployed locations have an MWR where your housband can get an internet hookup. We weren't able to use it this time since my husband is in a remote area but in the past it has worked great and our 2.5 yr old loves talking to Daddy on it. Also www.militaryonesource.com has a lot of resources that have helped us.

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L.C.

answers from Sacramento on

I have been through a deployment with my husband but my children are older. There are WE CARE meetings that have been set up by the National Guard. They are for ALL BRANCHES OF SERVICE. Gail Gruinius has one usually every 3rd Saturday at the Meadowview Armory (3250 Meadowview Rd., Sacramento) Her phone number is ###-###-####. This February 2-16 she will have Military One Source as the topic. Children and all family members are encouraged. They are parents, grandparents, cousins that show up. These meetings are there for you while your spouse is deployed. They have a special Sesame Street Video regarding deployment that might help. Please get on Gail's email list. She's a wonderful and knowledgeable military mother and spouse. God Bless, L. Clark

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C.M.

answers from Springfield on

My husband is currently in Afganistan. He is a Physician in the Army reserve. Leaving behind me, my daughter who is three and a baby who is almost one. The best thing to do is keep busy. We do lots of physical things. Yesterday we went skiing. We also spend lots of time with family. We try to skype every few days. The connection stinks but at least she can see him. We also videotaped him reading her favorite stories so we can watch that on TV. the most important thing I have found is to make your child feel proud of her Dad. I tell my daughter "Daddy misses you so much, but he is helping people who aren't as lucky as we are. he is making the world a better place for everyone." I also have her say goodnight to everyone at night, "Goodnight Granny.. Goodnight Daddy..love you." you get the point. There are books you can read to your daughter also like Moon Catch or something (my husband read them to her before he left) like that. My daughter liked them but I found them upsetting and a little too depressing so I put them away.

Best of luck to you.

Kate

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S.B.

answers from Indianapolis on

I am not sure if anyone has told you about any of this information but as a fellow military wife I just wanted to share a few things that I find helpful when my DH is on orders.

I am not sure where you live but one of the neatest pieces of information that was shared with me while DH was gone last was that at the Indianapolis Airport when you are there to send a service member off or pick them up, when you have a military ID you can get a gate pass. With a gate pass, you can get through security to the gate. Not many people know that so I share it with as many military wives as I can.

With regard to your 3.5 year old, there is a Elmo video at the following link that was created specifically for the children of deployed soldiers http://www.sesameworkshop.org/tlc/. I hope that helps you.

There is also militaryonesource.com a great resource full of links and support for families.

Please feel free to email me directly if I may be of more assistance.

Take Care. I know it is hard. Just know that you are not alone and that we are all thinking of you!!

All the Best,
S.

[email protected]____.com

(take out the spaces if you choose to email me)

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M.S.

answers from Chicago on

One of the best things I did for my daughter when she was 3 was making a "daddy book". I filled an album with pictures that were just him or him and my daughter only. She loves it even today and she is 8. During my husband's last deployment, I discovered two websites, flatdaddies.com and daddydolls.com. The flat daddies prints out posters that are lifesize and the daddydolls uses a full length picture and makes a doll/pillow of the military member.

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I.M.

answers from Melbourne on

When they were that young, my girls didn't really understand much about their dad leaving on deployment,it became harder when they got older, I remember the time when they were 6 and 8, it was really difficult at that time for them to see their dad go for 6 months. When they go at sea, it starts about 3 months before with the pre-cruise work-ups. But my husband came up with an idea that my girls loved. While away at sea, he filmed himself reading books to them and sent home the books and the video tape. It was amazing how they responded to that. Everynight I played the videotape and they read along in their books. It might be a good idea for your 3 year old to remember her dad while he is gone. Good luck, and best wishes to him for a smooth deployment and to you to keep strengh. I had no family around and two young ones so I know how hard it can be sometimes. Make sure to make time for yourself. I hope you have friends, but if not, just remember to get a baby sitter once in a while and go out to the mall even for an hour. It really helps.

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A.L.

answers from San Diego on

Our last deployment started when my son was 3 1/2 and ended just after his 4th bday. So, I have actually been right there where you are now. For my little guy this was actually his 2nd deployment. My lifesaver was the Deployment Support Group for Kids on our base. This is a new idea and I believe that ours is the only base with an established group. I do know that they are trying to branch out to other bases. Preschool aged children were able to talk to each other and help each other through the deployment. The kids were also taught to identify their feelings (for preschoolers sad, mad and glad). The facilitator would explain to the kids that it is okay to be mad, but then would teach them how to properly deal with those feeling. My son was VERY mad. He learned how to "blow out his mad." This was taught with bubbles. The children were taught how to breathe in through the nose and out through the mouth...very relaxing. They always made something special to be sent off to the deployed parent. Also, if there is an Armed Services YMCA in your area check to see if they do "Operation Kid Comfort." This is a program (no charge to you) where they will make a comforter for your little one with pictures of dad on it. VERY cool. I also did other things like have a world map on the wall and show where Daddy is at. When my husband realized I was doing that he wanted to send pictures home of those places. There are a million resources available to you....there is "flat daddy" (if you do a search several options will come up), our groups made "flat kiddos" that were sent off to the deployed parent. There is also a program called United Through Reading that your husbands unit could use. Check out www.AmericaSupportsYou.mil for organizations that the Department of Defense actually recommeds that you use. Hope this helped a little....

Good luck! Remember~Don't just survive the deployment....THRIVE through it!!!

Semper Fi!

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A.T.

answers from Kansas City on

My girlfriends husband was gone for about 7 months. They made a jar with their favorite candy in it. Everyday she would get a piece of candy from the jar. It was a good visual for them to use to the question she asked almost daily. She knew it was getting closer as the jar started becoming empty. It was almost time for daddy to get back. I guess you could take this idea and use it on almost anything, paperchains, stckers. Be creative that is what is so much fun.
By the way tell him thank you for service to our country. Thank you to for you and your families sacrifice!

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W.H.

answers from Wheeling on

Hello, Well I've been in your shoes several times before, as I was married to an Army medic for almost 12 years! All I can recommend is this, have people who are closeto him write a letter to your child/children about how he is now, and take tons of pictures, we did alot of scrapbooking. Video is also great. Also, may I suggest www.va.gov that is the veteran's affairs website. Between them and your local MWR, you shouldn't have any problems. I mention the letters, because 2 years ago we lost my husband and our daughter lost her dad in Iraq. She is almost 15 now, and will go back and read the letters, it is soothing for her. I hope and pray you never have to experience it. May God bless and keep you.
W.
Ohio

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H.M.

answers from Roanoke on

My husband left in September for deployment. Our daughter had just turned two and I was 5 months pregnant with twins at the time. Daddy and daughter watched the Elmo video- talk, listen, connect right before he left - and that was a huge help. Daughter seemed okay with daddy leaving b/c he was going away "like Elmo's daddy" Daughter and I stayed very busy with activities, preschool, and playgroups each week. That was good for us- time went by fast.
We talked to him on the web cam a few times a week and that was the best.
He came home for 6 days in Jan (we thought the babies would be born then, but they decided to stay in longer)It was a great time for us as a family of 3. I thought it would be so hard on daughter to have daddy here for a while and then have him leave again, but she seemed fine with it b/c he was "going back to help Elmo's daddy." Since your child is older, the Elmo thing may not be as believable.
I had the babies 3 1/2 weeks ago and one had to stay in the NICU for 8 days. Both babies are home now and doing well, and daughter is enjoying her role as a big sister. Luckily husband's deployment will end soon and he will be home in 5 weeks to meet his new sons.

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T.B.

answers from Colorado Springs on

I've read almost all the responses thus far and everyone has great ideas. I love to get new ideas. We are getting ready for our third deployment. It never gets easier. Each one has its one challenges. My son was 3 during the first time (he's 8 now). I had quit working on my career and we had just gone active duty 2 weeks before he received orders. Because of my son's age and me not working, we could travel here and there to pass time. Staying busy helps a lot, but always remember to do something for you on a regular basis. Find a freind to confide in. It helps to be able to vent to another adult without judgement or repercussions. If you are by Ft. Carson, there's free childcare every month for families of deployed soldiers. It's nice to have a day or night out.

The second deployment, we had a candy jar with the number of days that daddy would be gone. The kids would eat one a day. His school had a support group where he got to eat a piece each week; whichever works for you. The Elmo movie is also great for the little ones. Picture book helps. Now my husband and son have a notebook to write in and mail back and forth. We also had a treasure box to put special things in for when daddy gets home. Other military kids and spouses are amazing support. They understand at a different level than civilian family and friends. The deployment will be like a roller coaster. It's okay to cry. As other ladies stated, feel free to e-mail if I can help, [email protected]____.com

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R.F.

answers from Dallas on

my husband is also deployed. I have a 4 1/2 year old. She get a hershey kiss each night as her kiss from her dad. Since time is not a good concept for her age group we have a jar of marbles and she moves one from the time jar to the home jar each morning. When the time jar is empty dad will be home. Keep in contact with your unit ombudsman (I am assusming you have one) they can be a big help.

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D.W.

answers from Boston on

Hi there,
Sounds like you've received a lot of good advice. We just finished a 16 month deployment about 6 months ago. My husband was in the Middle East, left when our son was 2 and returned when he turned 3 1/2. We had a GREAT FRG, and I would suggest being involved if you have a good one. If communication is bad, the FRG can be a great way of getting information. As an FRG we had an email distribution list which I would pass along information to all of the family members. Also, don't be afraid to ask people to babysit your daughter, so you can get some "me" time. It will be important to you.

As for children, we also used the Elmo video which you can get for free from Military OneSource. We all watched it together before my husband left and my son still watches it even though daddy is home. We also mailed lots of packages with pictures he painted etc. We also got a Flat Daddy, which was about a 2 foot cutout of my husband, torso up. This not only worked great for my son, but for me, our whole family and all of our friends. Flat Daddy went out to dinner with us, to birthday parties, it was just great (and fun!). Just email me and I'll give you some resources for that. I believe there is an organiztion that will print it for free and then you just need to have it mounted and cut on gatorboard. We were fortunate enough to be able to use a webcam and talk to my husband on the phone. My son knew exactly who daddy was when he came home and there was no "stranger" anxiety.

Deployment is tough and I wish you and your family the best. I'll pray for your family. If you ever need anything, feel free to drop a line.

D.

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L.W.

answers from Chicago on

Hi, I just saw this post/update for the first time today. I am a millitary wife also. My husband has been overseas since August. We have a two year old son.
A great thing I did was to take some recent pictures of my son with my husband, or my husband and I and laminate them (using contact paper) then I added a magnetic backing (can find at craft stores). We keep all these pictures on the refrigorator at my son's eye level, so he can always see Daddy.
I also made sure to talk about his daddy all the time. We look through photo albums, write emails to Daddy, and my son talks to my husband on the phone when he calls.
The last thing I did was to put our family photos and a picture of my husband in his uniform in frames where my son could reach them. He likes being able to pick up the frames and look at his dad.

I won't lie, it has really rough some days. I miss my husband emotionally and also because he is not here physically to help with everyday tasks.
Some things I have done for myself:
1: I got a housekeeper. I only have her clean twice per month but even that is a load off my shoulders.
2. I started playdates with other moms that I knew. I need that adult interaction time. (I also work as a nanny so I am with children all day)
3. I have weekly dinners with my parents and family. This gives my son a chance to see his family (and not just me) a couple days out of the week.
4. My mom is "on-call" to babysit. She really helps me out, if I need to get groceries and would rather not take my son, if he is sick and I don't want to take him to the pharmacy to pick up his Rx, or if I need a break, she is always there.
5. See my in-laws the same amount or more frequently than I did before. My mother-in-law has been wonderful. She comes to visit me and my son(from and 1.5 drive away), but then will stay to let me have some time to myself. I've become a lot closer to her since my husband has been deployed.

I wish you all the best! Tell your husband we say "thank you" for his service. We really appreciate what he is doing. Your job is equally important as his and it is just as emotionally and physically draining too. Please email me if you ever want to chat!

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T.H.

answers from Rochester on

My husband is currently deployed to Iraq. He's 15 months into an 18 month deployment. I'm here with our boys. I have an almost 4yr old boy, a 2yr old boy and I'm pregnant (result of his 2 weeks R&R). My two yr old doesn't quite understand any more than Daddy's not here, but my older son is a different story. I've told him that Daddy will be gone for a long time, but that Daddy loves him and will come home when he's done with "work". I've told him that Daddy's job is to help people. Things were good till my son saw a photo of my husband in full gear (yes... his gun). To which the story changed to Daddy's at work "killing bugs". It's kinda cute!!! I do keep pictures of my husband all over the house. Which has helped the boys for a daily reminder of Daddy. I keep a care package by the door that the boys love to pickout things at the store to help fill (mints and gum). It's also become the dropbox for all their artwork... forget the fridge it goes right to the box. A family friend also told us about a website called Daddydolls.com they will take a picture of "daddy" and put it on a pillow for the child to sleep with. My boys love theirs. We also invested in webcams which has been great cause we can all talk and see each other. It's great for my husband so he can see how big the boys have gotten and it's great for the boys to be able to see and talk to Daddy. Best wishes to you!!!!

T.

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M.W.

answers from Lincoln on

First of all, I would very much like to thank you, your husband and family for your support and dedication to our country. I know, understand and appreciate all that you go through, and are going through, because we are a military family as well (Army) for the past 16 years. My huband has been on many deployments, TDYS, field excersises, etc... It's never easy, but you do tend to get a routine down.

My son is now 14, but when my husband first deployed, he was 2. We didn't have the high tech stuff we have now, but I found that simply coloring pictures, creating art-type projects was fun for my son. Baking together and sending packages weekly was a thrill too. My husband colored pictures back and drew pics too. Our son LOVED checking the mailbox:) We were stationed in Germany at that time, so many spouses were soldierless, which I found comforting because I was not alone.

So many people already suggested some wonderful ideas:) I will agree with all who discussed the FRG. I was the FRG leader a couple of years back when my husband deployed and that REALLY helped me and my son get through the long year. FRG's are a wonderful source to have as long as they keep an upbeat momentum. Military one source is a WONDERFUL program that is offered either via website or by phone. I found them to be quite helpful.

As for your daughter, maybe making a paper chain-link would be helpful for her. It works like the diary, but she can watch the chain grow around the room. With construction paper, cut out some colorful strips and each day write a special event that happened, or her feelings, anything that is important and when Daddy gets home, he can sit down and read them to her.

Oh, one thing I would like to mention is that he has been in a completely different type of environment for a long time. He will also need time to integrate back into the family. We each go through our own challenges (the parent at home and the parent deployed), one is not harder than the other, they are both equally difficult. It's just something to keep in mind...

If you need anything, info or just talk here's my e-address [email protected]____.com. Having support during this time is incredibly important! :) (My sister is going through her first deployment (15 months) with her new husband and just had a baby!).

I'll complete the novel... lol. Take care and stay strong!

M.

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K.T.

answers from Jacksonville on

I have to ask, do you have an Ombudsman for your husbands command? I am the Ombudsman for my husbands, and I have a ton of info that might help. You should find out who yours is. There is a cute DVD that they made just for young children and it talks about deployment. It is a Sesame Street one. I have extra copies if you would like to have one. I am new to this site, but I think there is a way for you to send me a private message. Where is he stationed, and is this a regular 6 month deployment or will it be longer? I hope that if you don't have or can't find out about your Ombudsman, that I can help you!! I hope to hear from you!!

*I just noticed the date that this was posted...I am sure that by now you are adjusting pretty well!! I would love for you to have a copy of this DVD if you would like it! Take care!!

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D.H.

answers from Austin on

It is just heartbreaking and amazing how many families are going thru what you are. Bless you all!

My duaghter was a Marine (yes a Marine) deployed in Iraq last year. Her dad and I took care of her 19 month old. One of the best things I did was get a blanket made with a photo of mom and baby (but you can just do dad) made with moms arms wrapped around the baby. Then each and every night or if things were fussy I would wrap the blanket around her and say "let's get a hug from mom". She loved to do this. I HIGLY suggest this or one of the dolls or pillow case.

Of course your child is a bit older and thus all the other suggestions like candy or flags or whatever will just help. The company where I got the blanket and it is a great one is www.treasureknit.com or 1-888-252-6553. By the way I got two of them. One for mom and one for Amaya. The photo of mom was in steet clothes and not a uniform as that is how she would be when she came home. You might want the photo to look most like how dad looks to your child.

When my daughter retured (4 months ago) it was a strain for the two of them to rebond. It is going better but this is a big change for everyone. THANK heavens you are the constant in your childs life! Prayers to you all.

Mom of 2 Marines and 1 last child considering it!

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L.R.

answers from Chicago on

I wanted to reply to all the moms who gave great advice. I want to thank you all for your courage, sacrifice and I want to be able to help YOU! I have never had to sacrifice like you all, and I want you to know how grateful me and my family are for you all. I don't know what I can do to help, but please know I want to.

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G.P.

answers from Honolulu on

I have a 7, 5, 1 1/2, and we have sent Daddy off to the Middle East twice together and once before kids! So, I have lots of thoughts and prayers for you. For your daughter though, I want to tell you about United Through Reading. I am abot to start volunteering with them, and we have been doing it for about 5 years. It is a program that assists the families to stay connected through encouraging the service member to read books on a DVD and then for the spouse at home to video your daughter watching the service member and sending a tape back to them overseas, so they can be encouraged too! It was HUGE for all 3 of mine, and he just got back in Nov, from 8 months away. Read about it on-line, or write me back! Good luck.

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M.K.

answers from Rochester on

I am a mother of 4 and have gone thru a couple deployments. My advice is to stay busy. Don't go to bed feeling guilty if you have had a bad day. Remind yourself that tomorrow is a new day. One thing that really helped my 3 and 5 year old was a calendar to keep track of the days. I printed off fun calendar pages off the internet and we would write special dates on them and crossed off days as we went. When we finished a month we would send it to Daddy. My husband thought it was neat to see what we had been up to while he was away. Recently we have become involved in a few groups where there are other kids in the same situation -- that too has helped my children. Good luck and thanks for everything you and your family are sacraficing!

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K.G.

answers from Omaha on

Didn't know if you had received these two ideas I used many yrs ago but here they are.

When my husband was deployed we had no idea when he would return so instead of counting down the days til he returned I made calendars and every night my son had to go to bed without daddy tucking him in he got to put up a sticker. We found some really cool puffy patriotic ones as a reminder as to why daddy was gone.

Another idea we did was every night we read books before bed.So I video taped daddy reading with the boys for a couple of weeks then we could just play the tape at night. This helped them stay in touch with daddy and it gave me a few minutes to myself.

My boys were 2 1/2 and 6 months old for our first deployment but he went TDY on a regular basis until he retired and then still traveled for a few yrs after that.

Technology is alot better now days so Im sure you will have some "real time" options also.

Also I found that watching the news only once a day at most helped me keep my focus on my kids instead of what harm my husband might be in.

Good luck and thank you for your sacrifices.

K. :)

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J.S.

answers from Provo on

Make sure to take a time out every now and then for your self. It will help you gain perspective and new motivation and so forth so that you can be the for your toddler.

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J.G.

answers from Milwaukee on

The things that you have done so far sound great. If possible, try to get a collection of short cards & notes that you can have at the ready for when your child needs them. This could be messages of love, encouragement, etc. Because your husband will 'miss the moment,' you will be able to facilitate an ongoing relationship for them. Some of the messages could also be every-day messages...I love you, eat your veggies and listen to Mom.. or whatever... Those could be used whenever there are gaps in communication. As you probably know, this does happen during deployments. Short recorded video clips are great. The ideas about bedtime stories are ideal, I would add to transition over to ones that are only audio, as your spouse may look different when he returns. You don't mention where the deployment is... if it is Iraq, remember that the sand eats up electronics in no time, so even though you have the laptops/webcams, the recordings are still important. In addition, the time zones will make it hard to connect that way. My poor cousin would be woken up by her Marine at 2am, glad to hear from her son at any time, but you can't live that way and function...

Good luck to you, and congratulations on taking charge!

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M.M.

answers from New York on

My husband is currently deployed and I have a 15 month old. I did the Daddy Doll and Flat Daddy thing. We also took lots of videos and I made my son his own photo album that we go through every day so he knows his face. It's not as bad as it seems right now. And if you are able to do the web cam thing, that would be really good for your daughter. Good luck, be strong!

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J.B.

answers from Atlanta on

I also have a 3.5 y/o. She'll be 4 by the time her dad leaves again this summer. Get involved with FRG, her preschool or whatever it takes. Staying busy always helps our family. I also have a 13 and 10, so they're a big help. He comes and goes all the time. I think she did alright after the first week or so the last time he deployed.
Good luck!!

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E.H.

answers from Orlando on

I'm a new member, both a Mom and a Grandma rearing our grandson who will be 3 this month. He's a special needs child. We have 7 grown children, two biological and five adopted, ranging from 21-31.

I run The Ships Project, which sends free care packages to deployed troops. One thing we know has been a big hit is having the deploying parent take some children's books and tape himself/herself reading them to the child. The book and tape or CD is then mailed to the child. It helps them remember the absent parent's voice. Another thing that helps is having the child draw pictures for the parent and have someone take a photo over there of the parent with the pictures and a big smile!

One thing that also works with very young children is to have whoever is leaving put a bunch of kisses in the child's hands, then hold the hand closed for a minute. We'd tell our little one that those were kisses from whoever was going to be gone awhile, and all they needed to do when they needed one was to put their hands on their face. It worked really well when they first went to school, too.

If anyone wants care packages sent to deployed servicemembers, just let me know. There is no charge. I've sent to the 2-124 Inf. and the 143 Trans. unit in the past as well as units from Patrick AFB.

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M.G.

answers from Charlottesville on

I was in the same situation. We were also in the process of moving, though, so I went ahead and moved to Maryland to stay with my parents and ended up doing so the whole time because our old house didn't sell. I'm not sure now that was the best decision. She was comfortable with them, but it wasn't quite home and they spoiled her which, after that long, made her a but rotten - maybe it was a coincidence? I would recommend scheduling a few trips to see friends or family if you can to help pass the time. Maybe one little trip (if you can do it locally) per month. Also, maybe once a month get a sitter and go out with some friends. We had a little video that he emailed us saying good night to her and one that said good morning and listen to mommy today. She watched those daily. As far as phone calls - you know how 3 year olds can be, sometimes she'd talk to him and sometimes she wouldn't. Another regret that I have is that we allowed her to be at the going away ceremony and she got really upset! I think it was because she thought she was going to get to go to the airport too. Unless you feel strongly about being there, I would advocate him saying goodbye from home as usual before going off to work. So we told her Daddy was in Baghdad and when he came home he brought her a little brass "magic lamp" which she loved and loved showing people. She liked making care packages and receiving anything. I think they have a program over there (some places) where the Dad can record himself reading a book and send that home. Other than that, when she would occasionally get upset, we didn't want Dad to be the "bad guy" - so Donald Rumsfeld was the "bad man" who sent Dad away. Hey - he could still be your villain - he started it!
Try to eat right and exercise. Best of luck! All the paperwork and wills and stuff is scary, but really him driving down the highway is just as dangerous, right?

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L.C.

answers from Dallas on

I just wanted to say Thank you to your family for making these sacrifices. God Bless you and your family we will pray for you.

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T.Z.

answers from Shreveport on

Hi there! My DH just got back less than a week ago from a deployment to Afghanistan and we have 3 girls..9,5 and 18 months.
A couple of other things...I know I went through my phases of being sad, being scared and being mad about him being gone. And I think its fair to assume the kids feel the same way. Our 9 year old would voice that she was mad at Daddy for leaving sometimes(even though she knows its not his fault). And we talked A LOT about loving Daddy even though she was mad. And more than being mad at him, we directed our anger at someone else. I think another post said Donald Rumsfeld. We just went straight to the big guy...George Bush.
Our 5 year old didn't say she was mad, but she coped in other ways. She REFUSED to cut her hair (other than her bangs) while he was gone. She REFUSED to take the 1 training wheel (that she doesn't use) off of her bike.
One thing I will pass on that I have experienced and I have other friends who have had this...behavior problems after the kids either talk to Dad on the phone or see him on the Webcam. Some people chose to limit conversations with Dad. We didn't do that because he's trying to maintain his relationship with the kids and we thought that would be counter productive. So when the girls misbehaved after a couple of days of talking to Dad, we would have conversations about "I know you miss Daddy, but that is no excuse for poor behavior".
We also printed out pictures and ironed them on to pillowcases for the older girls.
And the idea about going and doing things is wonderful. We had something planned for every month. Either going to visit someone/somewhere or someone coming to see us. At one particularly stressful time I even paid for a plane ticket for my mom to come and help. I think it also helps break down the time, gives the kids and mom something to focus on.
I TOTALLY agree with the eating right and exercising advice too. Sometimes getting on the treadmill and pounding out my frustration was the best therapy.
I wish you luck. I wish you strength. You can make it through this, your marriage can make it through this and you all will come out stronger on the other side.
Teresa Z

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K.T.

answers from Washington DC on

Hi my husband was in Iraq for 14 months last year. My son was 4 and half and the baby was 4 months. All these ladies have some good advice. The one thing my husband did before he left was make a dvd of him reading stories and singing songs. My older son watched it whenever he missed his dad. We did a lot of care packages and letters. I also made a little corner in my son's room that had pictures of his dad and I put a little chair by it and whenever he felt like he wanted to talk with his dad by himself or just wanted to see him or be alone he would go in there and have conversations with him. When it got closer to his RandR we did a countdown calender. We also did this for important events and when he came home. Every kid is different when there mom or dad is deployed. JUst give them lots of love and hugs and talk about the other parent as much as they like. HOpe this helps

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C.S.

answers from Washington DC on

My husband was deployed when my daughter was 8 months old for 18 months. Although my daughter was a bit younger one thing that we really enjoyed was videos. Before he left we each bought a video camera. When my husband had a chance he would buy childrens books and read them to her on video then he would send the video home along with the books so that he could read them to her. It was really nice to be able to include him as part of our bedtime or whenever we needed to feel closer to him. I also made a special photo album for her with pictures of her and daddy so she could look at them whenever she wanted. Another thing that we did for him was bought a plain pillow case and had pictures put on it of her and I (there are lots of places out there that do that for you), he loved going to bed everynight cuddled up with us....you could do the reverse for your daughter so that she will have daddy near at bedtime. I hope that everything works out for your family. It can get rough, make sure you lean on others for support....it helped me out alot.
C.

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S.S.

answers from Melbourne on

I know you've had so many responses. I just wanted to say that my daughter had just turned 2 when my hubby deployed to Iraq for 14 months. It was hard yes but I took it one day at a time, I allowed myself 1 crying breakdown a month to get it out of my system and I really relied on God, my church family, my relatives and our family readiness. I must say this though, the time that we spent apart made me grow up and mature in a way that I did not expect. My husband and I have been together since I was 17 and I was 24 at the time of his deployment. I needed to really be independant and strong for myself and my daugter. Fimd your silver lining and hold onto it. Children are so much tougher and more resiliant than we give them credit for. Just keep telling her how much her daddy loves and misses her.
Be Blessed

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H.F.

answers from San Angelo on

I didn't read the other responses, and I know I am a little late, but I am in your same situation. I got out of the Air Force 7 years ago when I got pregnant with my first. I gave up a career to stay home and it is really difficult. I have some experience in this area. I responded to another post with the information, but I can't find it. I have a lot of advice and suggestions, so if you want to give me a call my number is ###-###-####.

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B.D.

answers from Austin on

Wow,
You have such an amazing attitude about your trials. Your daughter will see this and have a deep understanding of patience, perseverence, and faith. Prayer is something that will help you get through the rough times.
God bless your family and thank you for your service to our country!
B.

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H.G.

answers from Phoenix on

I have not had to deal with this situation per-say. My husband occasionally travels for work and my 3 year old sometimes has a hard time understanding when he will be back.

In this case maybe a scrapbook of pictures of her daddy that she can call her own and look at when ever she wants to would help. Maybe one for (a small one) for dad will help him also. Your daughter can make him pictures or take pictures to send to him for his album. I am a Creative Memories consultant if you need any albums www.mycmsite.com/heathergriffin

Good luck with this. And thank you to you and your family for serving our country.

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J.S.

answers from Lincoln on

How can you possibly prepare? It is difficult enough for me as an adult to accept, how in the world can a 3 year old grasp the concept of time, distance, war, politics.... Our first 14mo. deployment, my daughter was 3, my son 4. Quite frankly, I preferred that age to this current deployment (now 7 and 8 years old). My 3 year old was so resilient the first time. Looking back, I should have been less worried about my kids missing their daddy and more about keeping a routine at home. So much changes at home, it was important for us to keep life simple and spend quality time together. We sent lots of letters, photos and videos back and forth. With our current deployment, we had a group provide the entire unit with teddy bears that have the soldiers voice recorded (like Build a Bear). We chose to have him record his night-time wishes and they listen to it every night before going to sleep. We are counting down until he has his 2 week leave; this helps (6 months vs the entire 12)thinking in shorter time frames. Good luck and god speed.

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T.L.

answers from San Francisco on

Hi, I have been through 2 deployments myself. The first for 15 months. He left a week after our first daughter was born. The second deployment was when she was 3. It is hard on them (not to mention hard on us) but a big difference between them and us is that they really don't have a concept of time. Video is great, it will keep her familiar with him and she won't be as stand'offish when he comes back because she will have fresh memories. Sometimes it gets too hard to talk about him but it is so important. Saying things like, what do you think Dad would want to do, or where do you think he would want us to eat. It will help you too. Making boxes to send and draw him pics and stuff is great, do that often. I get teary just talking about it and we haven't done one in 2 years. Good luck and write me if you need any kid of support at all. I feel for you deeply. God Bless.

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T.H.

answers from Washington DC on

My daughter has been through 2 deployments...the first being before she was born. What I had done was bought a tape recorder and had him tape himself reading stories to her. So when he came back home, she knew who he was by the sound of his voice. For this last deployment (she was 2), we bought a camcorder and I had videotaped him reading her favorite book or singing her a song, so whenever she started to ask about him, I told her that he left something for her and I would pop in the DVD and have her bring the book that he was reading or she would sing the song he was singing. As for you, it's ok to cry and to have bad days. When you're having a bad day...you can either ask a friend to watch her for a couple of hours or have a babysitter. Just remember that you're not alone!! Military wives are always here for each other!! Whether you like it or not! ;)

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B.B.

answers from Chicago on

Well, i was honest with my kids. My boyfriend left in Jan. and it was very hard on my kids, eventhough are not his kids. My kids are very close to him. Keep the good job, he will be back safe and healthy very soon.
God bless everyone is over there!!!!!

B.

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N.

answers from Minneapolis on

My daughter, who is now 7, was also 3 1/2 during our first deployment. The good thing about your daughter's age is that they don't have a great sense of time yet so the time will go quickly for her. Now I have a son who is 2 1/2 too and we are midway through our second deployment. My son is having a harder time, he carries around a photo of his dad and if he has a choice he'd wear his 'daddy' (camoflauge) pants or shirt every day.

The best thing we have this time is a video camera on our PC and we sent a laptop with my husband. The kids can talk with their Dad and he can ask them about things. My son thinks his daddy lives in our Mac - of course he's too little to carry on a conversation but he likes to show his Dad his favorite toys or blanket. Often my daughter will 'be too busy' to talk to her Dad. Fortunately my husband understands it's just her way of coping and he knows next time she'll probably talk to him. The great thing is video conferencing is free compared to phone calls.. Email is also great and my husband sends photos of him that I print for the kids.

My kids also like the Sesame Street video others mentioned that you can get on the Military One Source website. I thought I'd also mention OurMilitaryKids.org even though your child is too young. They offer scholarships for extracurricular activities/tutoring for school age kids. They gave a scholarship to my daughter so she could attend swimming lessons while her dad was gone. I've noticed there is a lot more attention paid to military kids/families now then during our first deployment in 2003/04.

It also helped my daughter to know some other kids whose Dad was with her Dad. We live over an hour from where our FRG meets so we don't go to meetings this time. Last time we did and met some families that we still keep in touch with and get together occasionally with.

Expect to transition for a couple months, then you'll establish a new normal routine. Best wishes from another military family.

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J.M.

answers from Providence on

Hi, My son was 3 1/2 when My DH Left for his deployment.
A, time is irrelavant at this stage so we used just the words you did - a long time, big trip on an airplane, Daddy is going to work for the Army, with a very special job.
Also, we did get the free Elmo DVD
http://www.sesameworkshop.org/tlc/
which was very helpful (The link takes you to military onesource - it makes it more concrete for them to understand. I would definitely contact your local military center tho, they have all kinds of coloring books, stories and also support for families. The center is a great great resource, even via email (mine is about 1/2 hour away)
Other things - no matter how much family support you have, you will find its sometimes harder and sometimes easier than you thought. People have great intentions but their lives get in the way too. Don't be afraid to ask for help when you need it and find a support group (there are some great ones online at yahoo - militaryfamilies and others...) sometimes you just need to vent to others who have been there done that. or doing that. Hope this helps!!! I will be happy to help with any questions you might have. Its one day at a time...currently my DH is supposed to be on leave but his plane got delayed. DS is now 4 and is still OK with that because we handle it positively. YOu know your DD best. ;)
J.

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S.M.

answers from Norfolk on

I have 2 girls 4 and 2. This is my second deployment with kids. The first one he was IA'd to Afghanistan for 15 months. He has only been home four months but this is what worked for us the first time. My husband had the webcam on his computer and he made a couple stories before he left, but he video taped himself reading my daughters books. They LOVED it! We also took them to build a bear and they picked out their own bear and he put his voice on the message. Like one says, Breanna it's daddy I love you baby girl. They both carried them all around. You can also order daddy dolls. You take a picture of your husband in his uniform and they put it on a doll. They are a bit pricey but he gave those to the girls when he came home on his r&r and they still carry them around. We did a daddy dinner once a week too, where I cooked daddy's fave thing to eat and it would be something different. We also made care packages about one a payday. Put silly pics in there of them, colors they colored etc. Or they would help pick out snacks to send him. We are going to do the hershey kisses this time and the paper chain. The paper chain is a link for each day he is gone. So they tear one off each day. Same with the hershey kisses, one kiss for each day he is gone. I plan on keeping some extra just in case they don't come back on the exact date and slipping them in if I need to.
The dvd's of him reading really really helped though. I would have him make a couple before he leaves. So then after he has gone you can pull it out say right before bedtime is when I used them. Say guess who wants to read you a good night story! My husband has been home 4 months and is about to leave again for med cruise for 6 months. They have still watched the videos even after he was home.

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M.G.

answers from Detroit on

Sounds like you are getting some great advice. I know the webcam was a life saver for us. My son was 1 1/2 when my husband was gone for 14 mos and seeind dad helped a lot. We couldn't always have the voice so we had to type im with the video but still it helped a lot. Another thing my husband did was bring a familiar stuffed Donald Duck with him and my son could see Donald was with Daddy in his quarters on the webcam and my husband also sent pictures he took doing things in Iraq with Donald in the picture. I would maybe let your daughter help pick something to go with your husband but maybe something you know she won't be too upset it's also gone for awhile. Our Donald also came with us to Disney World after my husband deployement. He deseved the vacation too since he was also deployed. Another thing was we got my son a complete uniform just like his dad's he wore a lot. To this day he still pulls that out and occaisionally puts it on (now 5 and it's way too small). Also the FRG is a great tool also. Though if you husband is a National guard soldier or reserve sometime the meeting can be a distance or the members are more stretched out than being stationed to a base. I had lots of family and friends but I will say that I did get a very good friend out of our deployement that was another soldiers wife. Sometimes only someone who is going through the same thing as you will understand what you are going through so if you can find someone like that it really helps to have them to talk to. Good Luck and if you have any questions please feel free to email me. There will be more issues when your husband gets back but I wouldn't worry about those now. Just get throught the deployement and when he gets close to coming home maybe use this forum to help you then with issues that may come up with your husbands and daughters reunion. Everyone's deployement is a little different and the reactions to them. Cross that bridge as you get closer and just enjoy the time you have now till he leaves. Best wishes and my prayers to your family.

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R.H.

answers from Harrisburg on

I know you got a ton of great information, but one thing you can do that my mom did when my dad came home from being on his navel ship for months, when I was really little, is give him a cookie to give to your daughter so she will come to him better. Of course technology is great today and you might not have to worry about her not wanting to go to him. Good luck to you during this tough time and God bless him for serving our country.

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M.T.

answers from Nashville on

I am going through my 3rd time around. I have 2 boys 7 and 3. This is a first for our 3 year old. We have lots of picture books that we made and we sit down and look at them as a family. We call them our daddy book. I understand how hard it is. My 3 year old can't always express himself but I can tell how is is hurting. My 7 year old cried for the first few months but now he hardly talks about it. If you need anything or want to talk my just send me a message. I am glad you have a support system because sometimes it is better to talk to people going through it then to your other friends.
I will keep you all in my prayers.

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D.R.

answers from Rapid City on

As a play therapist who works with children of deployed men and women here are a few tips I have learned:
for younger children, babies and toddlers, a laminated picture of the parent who is absent is helpful, they are able to hold it and of course it will end up in their mouth as that is how they learn about the world; the globe thing is helpful for older children; and children 8 to 12 or so may benefit from a soldier doll with lots of weapons to reinforce the idea that daddy or mommy are strong and can protect themselves (this is important if the child has begun to worry about death of the parent); any spiritual activities (of the type that you choose) are helpful--if the child askes to see God/Tunkusulia/Buda/Manuna/Higher Power showing the sunlight filtering through the trees or a sunset or a new bud on a tree or a flower or the twinkle in a person's eye when they are feeling love for another or cookies that Mom bakes or some other way that you create will all help the child learn to trust and will lessen their anxiety. Oh, and babies who have bonded with a parent by having contact with that parent won't be able to use many of these ideas, but having the deployed parent leave a shirt, sweater, or article of clothing that they have worn and still has their smell on it, can help the baby be comforted. Some parents have even made a pillow or a blanket out of this piece of clothing. But remember you can't wash it as it is the smell that comforts the baby. And of course if your child's behavior changes that may be a sign that a school counselor or other counselor may be helpful. Remember some children act out when depressed or worried, other children withdraw. Just watch for changes and get them to talk about what's going of within them. All the tips from the previous families of deployed men and women are great!!! Thank you for what you are doing for our country!!!! Danialle

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E.B.

answers from Dallas on

I was in Iraq in '03. I think that you will be surprised how often he will be able to call home. i never used a webcam but i know that they are out there. my husband sent me a care package once a week with my favorite treats and things like that. Get your kids envolved baking cookies or making cards for that care package, i think it will help both the kids and our husband.

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L.G.

answers from San Francisco on

I have been complaining this weekend because I have a bad cold and my husband has been on a 3-day business trip. Your posting set me straight again and reminded me to count my blessings. I have no experience with military deployment but I have the greatest admiration for your strength and courage. The most profound thanks to your family for defending the freedoms that we enjoy each day, and may God bless you and return your husband safely.

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T.K.

answers from Seattle on

I'm afraid I don't have personal experience with this and can only imagine the sacrifice your family is making. I read your post and was moved to respond, simply to tell you that I appreciate your sacrifice. I'm praying for your husband's safe return to his family and for your strength to "hold down the fort" in his absence and keep the faith. God bless you and your family and thank you.

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H.H.

answers from Los Angeles on

hi there! My husband has been active duty for 16 years and we have 3 kids 12, 10 and 6 this month! My best advice off the top of my head... keep busy and KEEEP TALKING! It's important to keep line of communication open even with a 3 1/2 year old. Have a routine that includes daddy in everyday: color a picture to send him, kiss his pic goodnight, have him read her a bed time story on tape or video, keep him in your prayers... something! Talk about where he is and how YOU feel without over loading her expl "I'm sad because I miss him, but i know he has to be there and he will be back soon!"

Try to find things to do... if you are in 29 Palms there are a LOT of moms groups etc here and I can put you in contact with them... if not (I know you have 1 group) find more... the more the better! Keep busy.... make plans... keep moving!

all for now!

H.
29 Palms, CA

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D.T.

answers from Chicago on

Morning:
I know this is a very difficult time for you. My husband was in the Viet Nam war and what kept me going is my church family and my family! Prayer is a great strength!!
Try to socialize with other women who are in the same boat and give yourself a time out. It is very important that you don't burn out with household things. Go out and have someone watch the little one so you can keep it together.
God watches those who ask for help!
D.

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C.G.

answers from Philadelphia on

My husband deployed last summer while my son was 2, and one of the best things I did for my son was found some "daddy" books at the bookstore. One was called "I Love My Daddy Because..." and another one was about a daddy bear and a baby bear. I bought anything that talked about daddy. My son always picked at least one of these books to read before bed each night. Daddy made a special Build-a-Bear for our son as well. We also prayed for daddy every night and mentioned daddy in our family activities daily. My husband was able to call daily, and it helped to hear daddy's voice, even though the phone connection was horrible.

I got involved in a local Mom's Club. If you want to check for one in your area, the website is www.momsclub.com. I also got involved with Hearts Apart, the Air Force's deployed family member support group. I was able to bring my son to activities with both of those groups.

The other thing that helped me was at the half way point in his deployment, I took a 3-week car trip with my son and visited all our friends and family on the east coast (we're in NJ at the moment) and that took my mind off my husband being gone. He was still able to call us on my cell phone, and my son and I were able to spend time with other people we love.

Your base will have lots of pamphlets for your partner and the family to help you cope, but I found that going to the Hearts Apart meetings was great because I could commiserate with other spouses dealing with the same issues I was dealing with. And they usually gave us freebies, such as free calling cards or goodies for the kids.

You have been given a ton of great advice and support. Know that we're all rooting for your family and are praying for you. Thank you for the sacrifices ALL of your family is making for the sake of our freedom. Feel free to contact me if you need anything.

C.

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K.S.

answers from Minneapolis on

Well, my husband has just gone on several short deployments (2-3 months +) and my daughter is only a year old, but for the past two deployments I actually created a calendar book for my husband with a very brief note for each day he was gone. The last time he left our daughter was only 4 months old so I took lots of pictures of her so he could see a new picture of her for every day he was gone. You could find or take pictures of your husband and have him write a one sentence note for every day or week he's gone so she'll have something to look forward to seeing, even while he's gone. I know it sounds like a TON of work, but I know it helped my husband while he was away.

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A.O.

answers from Johnson City on

hi! i just read your request about your husband deploying, and want to let you know i'm pullin and prayin for you and you family. i am a military wife with just 1 (thankfully) deployment under my belt. my son was 5 and my daughter was born while he was gone. all the advice i have is stay busy!! which should be fairly easy since you have a little one :) i talked to my son alot about it, showed him maps of where daddy was, and encouraged him to help me pack care packages and send pics. FRG is good to be apart of too. the leaders often know details you otherwise might not have known and can be a great ear for listening or if you need help with certain situations at home. i am also here if you EVER need anything or need to talk, please let me know and i'll send you my email address or phone #. stay strong, and God bless!!

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M.H.

answers from Jacksonville on

My sister's husband is deployed to Iraq now for the second time. She and her husband love frogs and she sprays a frog stuffed animal with her husbands cologne and calls it the Daddy frog. She also laminated some pictures of him that her kids can play with as much as they like without having to worry about them getting destroyed.

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M.P.

answers from Albany on

My sister's husband is in Afghanistan right now. Her son was really too young to know when he left, but someone had gotten him a video of Elmo and his dad gets deployed. It is a great movie and would be much more appropriate for someone of your son's age. If you are interested but can't find it, let me know and I will get the exact title for you....but I am sure if you search for it, it is probably on the web somewhere...isn't everything?! Good luck! I was a military wife before our children were born and I give you all the credit in the world for dealing with a deployment with a child - it was hard for me and it was just me!! What area do you live in? Do you have a good support system and lots to keep your daughter busy while he is gone? Certainly let me know if I can help in any way!

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V.W.

answers from San Francisco on

I hung a picture 8x10 of him on the wall and she kissed Daddy goodnight every night before bed.

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A.C.

answers from Louisville on

I totally understand your situation. My husband left in December 2006 for Afghanistan. He is due home this March. Our children were 10, 5, and 11 months when he left. They are now 11, 6 and 2. If this is your first deployment, I hope you are ready for it. You will definately grow in more ways than you know. It is great that you are already running your household. That does have its perks. You get to make all the decisions, but you are also responsible for all the decisions. As sad as it is, its actually pretty nice for a couple of weeks.

We purchased webcams and my husband bought a laptop before he left. We have been able to talk to chat with him on IM and with the webcams, the kids can see him and he can see them. Our greatest fear was the baby not knowing him when he came home. He came home in September for two weeks. She went running to him at the airport because she was used to seeing him on the webcam. There is also a program called Skype that allows the soldiers to call and talk to you live, through your computer, and it is free. Take advantage of it. I believe the website is www.skype.com. The best thing you can do is build a support group. If you don't have family close, find people that will trade out daycare so that you can have a night out occasionally. The family support group is a start. You need a break for your sanity and for your family. You need some "me" time. You realize that you may have taken for granted the ability to say, "Hey sweetheart, I am going to the store, and I am leaving the kids here".

So, the best advice I can give you for your child, is take care of yourself. My kids feel it when I am stressed and believe me, you will be stressed. We made picture albums for each child of their favorite pictures with them and daddy. We put a picture of my husband on the computer so if someone asks my daughter where here daddy is, she points to the computer. Its a tough job being a military spouse, so hang in there and know that we are all proud of you and your husband for the service you BOTH do. Take care.

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R.S.

answers from Binghamton on

I wouldn't over prepare at this point. I know it seems like a long haul for you (and it is, I've been there) but at this age life is still very much for the present. Pictures, video tapes of daddy, audio tapes of him reading her favorite books, perhaps even a few hand written notes from him for your little one for those times when mail doesn't come through as quickly as us mommies would like. It's been many years since I did this with a little one (I've done it since but not with the same little one and my bioDD was old enough to really understand and send stuff herself etc.)
Best wishes to you and your family for the upcoming deployment.

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T.W.

answers from Honolulu on

you have great responses, I had my husand make a build a bear, that had his voice in. ( ironically, she didnt listen to it much, since he was able to call often, and use the webcam) but maybe this might be a treasure for your child.

J.D.

answers from Boca Raton on

Hi, I just sat and wrote you the longest letter and my daughter came over to the keybord and dropped her blocks on it and I am not sure, but I think the whole thing was deleted................unfortunately I don't have the time to re-write the whole thing, but some important tidbits of what I wrote......Have your husband do a video of reading stories, singing the alphabet, counting, etc. also include a special message to your daughter where he is and what he is doing, she may not understand now, but god forbid something happens.................don't count on using your webcams, it may not happen, video tape your life daily and mail the DVD's to your husband monthly he will treasure them (save copies for yourself) Keep your life as same as you can, don't let your daughter begin sleeping in your bed, etc. She will hate your husband when he gets back if you do........make sure she knows daddy is gone for work and not anything that she did, I have a "reunion DVD" for you if you want me to mail it to you.........I saw someone else spoke about the "dolls with pictures on them"..............You can have a family picture lasered on dogtags so all of you can wear one (your hubby is allowed). Most importantly don't cry when your husband calls, he needs to know that home is "OK" so he can complete his mission over there and come home to you safely.....................Get involved in your FRG (Family readiness group) That is who is going to keep you informed with all you need to know. Make a friend with a solider who is on rear detachment in the SFC's office......it's always good to have someone in the office who will help you in a pinch. I can't think of what else I wrote in my last e-mail before deleted, but if you ever have any questions you can write me anytime.....BTW, my husband was in the Army for 17 1/2 years before getting medical retirement..................Please tell your husband thank you from me and my family.
J. D.
[email protected]____.com
www.myspace.com/mrsdmom2beand1
P.S. Just a side note, my husband came home with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder AND Combat Stress Disorder and it was almost two years before he finally agreed to get "help". If your husband comes back and needs help, please encourage him to get some, even if it's with a civilian outside of the Army....it's so important not to lose chunks of your life like we did
P.P.S.S. One more thing I just thought of is to send your husband a marble notebook and you can both keep "journals" of your days apart and give it to each other upon your return.....this is especially good for your "bad days" and you want to "complain" better to do it on paper than directly to your hubby!
PPP.SSS. Make sure you have all power of attornies that you need, sometimes JAG doesn't tell you all of the ins and outs and what you THINK would be good for something isn't I remember when my hubby deployed hacing like 20 powers of Attorneys! Again, any questions just ask! [email protected]____.com

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K.M.

answers from Syracuse on

I responded to the private message you sent me, but forgot to mention the FRG. I strongly suggest that if you have a good FRG that you become part it. Ours gets together every month for meetings and the kids are allowed. We don't do coffees that the kids can't come to. I for one, don't believe in putting my children in daycare, so if they aren't allowed somewhere that means I'm not either. Anyway, our FRG is great, and there are only a few of us who come to the meetings, but we are all very friendly. It helps pass time. Our next meeting will be making Valentine's for our guys. (none of the husbands of female soldiers ever attend because they think they are too tough for it). Try to get out as much as you can on trips to the zoo, apple picking, parades, the park, play dates, etc. All of those will help the time pass faster too. And don't forget those pictures of Daddy everywhere. Make a screen saver of family pictures. Good luck to the webcam that Theresa mentioned. My husband won't get internet over there even though we can afford it, cause he says it's pretty expensive. Whatever you need feel free to contact me.

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L.B.

answers from Knoxville on

Check out the website: www.daddydolls.com
...since your child's so young, having a snuggle daddy doll may help. I know it helped my friend's little boy when he was deployed. Good luck and God bless!

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C.M.

answers from Kansas City on

My husband has been deployed since our son was 2months old. He has no idea that his daddy is gone but it is still hard. Especally for me this is my first child and being alone with your first is hard. We are looking forward to the day he gets to come home, which will hopefully be soon. If you need someone to talk to I'm available. I also know what you are going through. Keep your chin up it will be ok.

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B.S.

answers from Colorado Springs on

Hi, I have been thru 3 deployments to iraq, and it never gets any easier. the last one, my son was 3 1/2 almost 4. the best thing i found was to mark of on a calandar ( dollar store type) each week! HE did it, and it helped him with daddy going to do his job-helping protect others. I had to explain to him that his 'job' was in iraq, but his 'work' (when he was at home) was just a 9-5 type thing.

I am sure the first 2 weeks you both won't want to do very much, and it is 100% acceptable. the hardest part, is going to be R&R, where he has to go back, and she probably won't understand. my hubby left in the middle of the night, each time, the first, my son was 4days old, the second, (boy that was a nightmare) and the last time i had a migraine and had to be rushed to the ER. Make sure that your daughter is there to see him get on the plane if possible.

I had to explain to him that daddy gets on a bus, then a plane and flys to iraq. I bought a cheap globe, $3 at target, and would tell him where daddy was everyday.

please, feel free to email me!!!! it never ever gets easier, but time will go by faster with your girl with you!! [email protected]____.com, any time!!! you can im me as well!!!

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M.V.

answers from Elmira on

Militaryonesource.com has a video that you can get for free. It is a Sesame St deployment video. I personally have not seen it but I am a big supporter of Military One Source so I am sure it is a good video.

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P.R.

answers from Santa Barbara on

I have never been through this, but I just wanted to say my prayers are with all you families who have dealt and are dealing with deployment. Whether you're the deployed or the spouse, you are very brave and doing a great service for our country (agree with the war or not). These stories are inspiring. Good luck to all of you!

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C.W.

answers from Los Angeles on

My daughter-in-law just wrote and published her first book, Sammy's Soldier. Her name is Sarah White. It is about a daddy going on military deployment. My son was in the Marines for 4 years so this book is very dear to our hearts. You can get the book on amazon.com. Good luck to your family and may God bless you.

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N.M.

answers from Cleveland on

you can just say daddy is at work.....

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L.B.

answers from Boston on

I went through this with my 2 boys. I found that being involved with groups, keeping yourself and the kids busy.

I don't know how many patrols/ deployments that you have made but just know that it is normal for everything to break for about the 1st half of it. Then the last half you spend recovering and preparing for the homecoming at which time he will tell you that everything seems great and he can't imagine what the "big deal was". Just know it is because you are a master at handling all that comes your way, including helping your child and fixing whatever breaks.

God Bless you and your family. L. B.

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K.G.

answers from Springfield on

My husband was gone for the first 2 years of our son's life. Things were tough but you find a way to get through it. I always kept pictures of his dad around and would let him communicate over the web cam. When my husband got home our son really didn't have any problems getting used to his dad. I think it had a lot to do with him hearing his voice and seeing pictures of him. The toughest part of my husband coming home was him getting used to civillin life again. It's going to take some time. You know, you are going to be used to making all the decisions and being in charge of everything and when he comes home it kind of disrupts all the things that you have done. Just be patient with him. I almost found it harder when he returned than when he deployed. I know that my husband felt really overwhelmed with even the most simple things. He has been home now for a year and is just now starting to find himself to be comfortable again. Prepare yourself for the fact that he may not be the same for a long time and may not be 100% back to himself ever. I'm not trying to bum you out. Please don't think that. You and your little one are going to make it through this while he is gone. You are not going to believe how much time is going to fly by becasue you are going to be so busy with everything. Make sure to plan a little get-a-way for just you and your husband when he gets back. You guys need a chance to reconnect with out the little one around. Just keep in the back of your mind that with all that reconnecting that you may end up with another little bundle of joy!:) That's how we ended up with our youngest. Good luck with everything. I will be praying for you. If you live near the Buffalo area I would love to get together with you for lunch or something. I do hair and nails for a living so if you ever want some pampering just let me know. Free of charge!

-K.

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A.H.

answers from Syracuse on

I have been through 2 deployments with my husband being in Iraq both times. Both were totally different for us because in between the two deployments we adopted an 8 year old little girl, making the 2nd deployment way harder than the first! In some ways deployments are easier with a child because you have someone to take care of and keep you busy but then they are way harder because you feel for the child, they miss their dad and there is nothing you can do about it! Our daughter was with us for a year and a half before her dad left and it was hard on her because to her she had just lost the one thing she had always wanted "A Dad"!! Of course my daughter is older than yours and she understood a little more but there were days that were horrible because she missed him so much but then there were days that were great! So hang in there! Remember to give yourself a break from time to time, if you have someone that will watch your daughter for even an hour, take advantage of it! Even if all you do is run to the grocery store, just take time for yourself!

One thing we did for our daughter was, daddy brought home a huge bag of Hershey kisses one day just before he left. He told her that they were kisses from dad, one for each of us for everyday that he would be gone (our best guess anyway). After he left we ate a "kiss from daddy" every night before she brushed her teeth. But we didn't just eat them, she made it so that we had to unwrap it, kiss the kiss, blow another kiss to the other side of the world, and then catch a kiss that daddy had blown us! It was really cute, sometimes if family was with us she even made them catch a kiss that daddy had sent to them too! It made us both feel just a little closer to him each night! We took the jar of kisses with us anytime we weren't going to be at home because she had to have it with us and she couldn't miss a single night. As the jar got smaller, she got more and more excited! Although when he got extended for 3 extra months that was a little rough and daddy had to buy more when he was home on R&R. But we got through it and now Hershey Kisses are really dear to our hearts, and they'll be around for us again when my husband has to deploy yet again, later this year!

Good luck to you and your family, if you ever need anything please don't hesitate to ask, us military wifes have to stick together. From one Military family to another, thanks for your service and may god bless you and keep each of you safe while he is gone! We will continue to pray everyday that God will end this mess but until then we pray that he will give each soldier, spouse, child and or other family members peace and strength to get through these hard times!

A.
[email protected]____.com

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D.B.

answers from Tulsa on

First of all, let me say, how much I appreciate everyone's responses. My son will be leaving for Afghanistan soon and will be leaving his 3 children and pregnant wife at Fort Hood, Texas, which is 7 hours from home. Tiffany is a stay at home mom looking forward to taking some college classes next spring. She said she was having pillows cases made with their dad's picture for my grandchildrens beds. There are a lot of great ideas that have been written and I wish you all the best and will pray for the safe return of your husband.

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C.S.

answers from San Diego on

Well my husband was on deployment last yr for 6 months so i know what ur goin through. One way to help with your daughter is to ask your husband if the ship he's on has a reading programs. My husband was on the Nimitz and they have this reading program where he would pick books out to read and he would record himself reading on a dvd and he'd send it to us to that my 18 month son could see and hear daddy. Of course at my son's age he didn't know what was going on either but he knew daddy was gone. Everytime he saw him on tv he would get so excited. My husband was able to send 6 dvds throughout the deployment. It is an awsome program that they have on the ship so i hope your husband is able to do the same good luck with your daughter and just be strong and never give up.

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R.G.

answers from Nashville on

You are stranger to me, but kindred through experience. I will be praying for you and your family. My husband deployed for 17 months when my first two children were 3 1/2 years and 2 months, and we (my husband and I) trusted that God had plans for him during the deployment. I have to say that I did not get angry because it would not have been good for my husband, my boys, or for me. I wanted my oldest son to see that his daddy was doing his job, a very important job, and that I was proud of him for his commitment to keeping us, and other people, safe. I personally think that teaching our children to be angry at our country's leaders is teaching them to be less than patriotic. We live in an incredible country, led by leaders who do the very best they can to protect our way of life, and I want my boys to understand that. Anyway, my son saw me remain positive, and he now believes that daddy's "army job" is important not just to us, but to so many others in our country and our world, as well. It is my belief that we should be teaching our children, even through deployment and separation from family, that daddy's and mommy's and others who serve are remaining strong in their commitment to serve our country. I will be lifting you and your family up, and I pray for strength and growth - deployment presents a unique opportunity to grow in faith and set a lasting example for your children. God bless!

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M.R.

answers from Columbus on

Hey!

The ideas of filling a jar with candy or other things are a great way to help him understand the concept of time but here is an idea for you if you don't want to use candy. In 2005, my youngest was 5 when my husband was deployed, and she could not understand that Daddy would not be home "tormmorw" so I took a small American flag (on a stick) for each week whe would be gone and we planted "Dad's Garden" in the yard under a tree that we put a yellow ribbon around (I recomend the back yard so that you do not draw attention you the fact that you are alone!) Each Sunday, the girls would remove one flag and put it in a vase on the fireplace next to his picture. It became exciting for them as the "bouqet" got bigger and the flags in the garden became fewer and fewer. My husband also took a picture of his room, and his bunk so that the girls could see where Daddy lived.

You got so much good advice! He really may not be the same when he gets back, but he will be OK and you will work thourgh it and everything will be fine. As for help from his command if you need it. One thing I did not see mentioned was the uncertainty of the return trip. For us, we did not know exactly when he would be back, only that it would be around a certain date, and even as the date got close it was very frustrating not knowing when he would be getting back. I hope that this does not happen to you, but be ready if it does. I am glad that some of the people who responded had IM, but he may not, uless things are better since 2005!

It will probably help him if you don't change things while he is gone, you can't stop the kids from growing, but now is not the time to paint the house or reorganize the kitchen, so that as much as possible is like he remembers when he gets home.

Good luck!
M.

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