Military Kids and Christmas :Making Deployment a Time of Growth for Young Children

December 16, 2008 | Categrory: celebrations, kids and deployment, making deployment a time of growth for young children, military families, military kids, parenting

A parent being deployed at Christmas is sure a hard thing for a little one to cope with, but here are some ideas for making the holiday brighter and more meaningful.

*The photo is of my 7 year old granddaughter hanging an ornament that her Daddy made when he was her age. She was excited when we got it out of the box, and after looking at the date it was determined that he had been only a little bit younger than she is now. It made a sweet connection for her as she proudly hung it on our tree. Maybe you have something that represents your child’s absent parent, even if it is not a traditional ornament…tie a string to it, and let the child hang it. It may be a photo, or a piece of jewelery, or even a silly thing, like a comb that is the parents…no matter…you just want that reminder hanging there!

* Have your children look through their toys and choose two or three that might be given to children that do not have so much at Christmas. Let them choose and be sure these are not things that the kids will later regret giving. Loss is often overcome with generosity. Giving feels good. It also gives the kids a good story to tell the absent parent when they call home!

* Bake something wonderful! I did this the other day with my granddaughter. I taught her how to make the scotch shortbread recipe passed down from her great great grandmother. I had a chance to tell her about the country of Scotland and pieces of her heritage. Make some time to talk about and pass on your Christmas traditions.

* Make up a special Christmas prayer for the parent who is not with you. This can keep that parent close by, and your shared faith makes the miles disappear for a moment.

* Be sure you take the time to pull a child on your lap and tell them about your faith, what Christmas means to you, and maybe some of the Christmas memories you have of being a child. Children love to hear about their parents being kids!

Try making up a story, if you like doing that, about what it may have felt like in the manger that night long ago, or read the Bible account of the Lord’s birth. Have the kids draw a picture of what they imagine it to be like, to send to the deployed parent. That way everyone gets to focus for a moment on the real meaning of Christmas.

No amount of planning and doing makes the holiday without a loved one easy, but sharing real time with kids is a way to say I love you… a way they will remember. You are a military family, you are resilient, remind the kids and yourself that this too you will triumph over, and there will be a day of reunion.

May you be blessed this Christmas, and heartfelt thanks to those who defend, while we sit safe at home. May the Lord bless each one of you, and truly give you the gifts of peaceful hearts and safety.