When you are in the military, you know you are going to be deployed someday. When you are actually called to military duty and scheduled to be deployed away from your family, a range of emotions are unleashed throughout your family unit: sadness, pride, loneliness, fear, anger, confusion and stress. You manage the feelings by both acknowledging the negative and also preparing emotionally and practically for the separation in a pro-active way.
You wonder how can I foster my relationship with my children while I am away? Will they forget me? Who will care for them the way I do? One way to think of parenting during deployment is to imagine it as an extension of how you parent while at home. So, your hard work at good parenting skills pre-deployment pay off for you while you are away. As research shows, the attachment bond endures over time and space, your love endures over time and space.
Remember, a healthy parenting relationship doesn't mean that you are perfect, it just means that you consider the relationship between you and your children at the core of your parenting, notice your child's inner life, and not only notice your own feelings.
The general quality of the home atmosphere and the family parent-child relationship before deployment impacts your parent-child relationship during and after deployment. Securely attached children are more resilient and can receive love from caring, substitute caregivers more securely and readily than children who did not have the wonderful benefit of your consistent, loving parenting.
Below are some practical tips for extending and nurturing the emotional family bonds while you are away.