Soon our family will be welcoming home our soldier and we are so excited! He will be living and working close enough to be present for holidays, birthdays and just weekends with the We Serve Too! kids. This is new to all of us and we can’t wait! As a mother, grandmother, and someone who has worked closely with kids all my life, I have been contemplating a few things about this . I believe that We Serve Too! A Child’s Reunion Book is a great way for kids to talk through a reintegration no matter if the family is intact, divorced or supported by grandparents or other caretakers.
If you are a single parent returning from deployment , or the caretaker of children while someone has been away, here are three things that might be a little helpful to remember:
1.Kids are creatures of habit (actually we all are ) and what they are used to is not always easy to undo. In our Reunion book we address this, in showing that feelings get complicated . Not expecting things to go smoothly will avoid lots of hurt feelings.
2. Homecoming is wonderful…sometimes. Everyone has had lots of time to think about how great this is going to be! No one has thought about what it will be like when a child wants to go home to the parent they have been living with when you have them for the weekend , what it will feel like when the child rejects gifts or planned activities that have been lovingly offered, or on the child’s side,what it will feel like to be disciplined by this parent they have waited so long for.
3. Take it slow. Get to know each other again. Find things that you share in common. Let kids know that though they are used to life one way, life has changed course …for the better! Let them know that you understand they miss Mommy , but you love them and you are there, they will see Mommy in a day or two (or whatever the arrangement is). Be confident, friendly and not overly empathetic. When kids know you are acting in their best interest, they begin to feel safe and accept the new arrangements. Finding things to do, like getting kids engaged in helping you make dinner, washing the car together, reading a story, will help calm the feelings and build bonds between you.
Here is one word of caution, don’t be intimidated. Don’t let kids cry and get when they want…this will create a mess beyond your imagination and honestly makes kids feel insecure and scared. They need to know that a mature adult is caring for them and they are not in charge. It is hard sometimes being a parent who has been away, it creates undue guilt at times. If you want to read more about this, look at our free parent guide on our reunion book here:https://www.weservetoo.com/Discussion_Guides.html
As the grandma, I want to help my son as he comes back, gets an apartment , and begins to enjoy his beautiful We Serve Too! kids!
I came up with the idea of a “Daddy Box”. This box has a few things he may not think about or know about yet: the special soap that little girl needs, the laundry soap for said little girl who is allergic to other kinds, children’s Tylenol, children’s cold medicine, a box of band aids , neosporin for any little cuts that happen, a toothbrush and favorite toothpaste for each kid, children’s shampoo. You could add maybe a few favorite foods that kids are used to, night lights, or toys that are familiar and may need to be found in both homes. If you have a young lady nearing teen years, who will be with Dad, make sure that you provide things in case changes of life occur on his watch. I bet you could think of some other things, if you do, please let me know since I only have two more weeks to get it ready!
If you are a parent coming home, Welcome Back, and thank you!