Making Deployment a Time of Growth for Young Children:Bedtime

June 10, 2008 | Categrory: kids and deployment, making deployment a time of growth for young children, parenting

Deployment is a time of stress and change for the entire family, but especially so for the youngest members. Young children depend on family routines for a sense of security and safety, and much of that is hinged on the emotional solidity of the caregivers in their life. Though we often do not see it as such, times of difficulty are opportunities for growth in ourselves and our children: A time to learn coping skills, test our creative gifts, deepen our faith, delegate things to others, reach out to others, and experience the truth that even when circumstances are difficult, life can still be satisfying.

Let’s get real, deployment is a hardship. No one looks forward to having a spouse gone for long months at a time. On the other hand, you can look at the larger purpose with pride and honor. Your family defends this nation. Your family cares for the rights of human beings all over the globe. It is you who allow the rest of us to sleep soundly at night, protected under our flag. Without your sacrifices of time we would not enjoy the security of living in the greatest country in the world! Your children need to feel this pride and honor. They need to be told the stories of this country and how the military functions. If you are proud of being a military family, that sense of purpose will be a source of strength for your child.

It is important to maintain your routines and traditions and be creative in ways to include your deployed family member in those routines. If kissing Daddy goodnight is a routine, then a picture of him by the bedside along with a prayer for him, keeps him present as the last moments of the day. We Serve Too!, as a regular bedtime story can bring up questions and discussion that can help a child express loneliness and fears. Keeping routines in the military is not easy. Nothing is ever for sure and no one in the family can count on exact dates or even where one will be at any given time. This can be an exciting or frustrating part of military life. Choosing a few doable routines are one thing you can do that will pay big dividend for your kids.

A bedtime routine is an important one. Do the same things to prepare a child for bed… and he might actually go there! A fairly consistent time for bath, stories, a prayer, maybe a song, sung by a parent or a slow and gentle CD. Don’t worry about it being the same, that’s the idea, boring, or familiar, fosters sleep. Before deployment parents can pray a prayer together with the child. During deployment that can be continued…a connection over the miles. A story, a poem, a song or combinations of these can create a wonderful and solid sense of security at the end of the day.