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MilLife Guides

Parenting Through Deployment

Overview

For MilParents, deployment preparation has an extra, important step — preparing your children for each phase of the deployment cycle (before, during and after deployment). There may not be one right way to prepare children for a deployment, but you can use these tools, resources and methods to create a customized plan to support your family.

Preparing for deployment as a parent

Put your textbooks away. There is no by-the-book way to prepare your child for the separation that comes with deployment. Formulating a family-specific plan for your military deployment will take parental instinct, communication and planning. Use these resources, tools and tips to help you stay connected during deployment:

Having a baby when deployed

Birth doesn’t wait for deployment to end. Whether you are the spouse of a deployed service member who has just given birth or a service member away from the magical moment, you can still be connected to each other and experience the delivery. Military OneSource provides strategies to stay connected to your growing family.

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Even if you won’t be there for the delivery, you can still experience the joys of new fatherhood. Get prepared before you leave so you can better experience the joys of new fatherhood when you’re away.

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The New Parent Support Program provides one-on-one support for expecting and new parents. This free service has information, support and guidance on pregnancy, parenting and child development, and can provide information about classes, including those just for fathers.

Helping children and youth deal with deployment

A deployment can bring out strong emotions in family members and cause stress and anxiety, especially in children. By understanding how preschool and school-age children react during deployments and preparing ahead of time for this big change, you can make sure each phase of the deployment is successful. Use these tips and resources to help create your own plan for supporting your children through each phase of the deployment cycle.

Sesame Street for Military Families has programs and videos for children whose parents are deploying.

ZERO TO THREE offers Military Family Project resources to help parents communicate the challenges of military life with their young children ages 0-3, including preparing for deployment, handling separation and reintegrating after deployment.

Deployment Support Books and Videos for Children

Share these books and videos with young children to help them understand the stages and emotions associated with deployment:

Helping families transition when deployment ends

Reunion after deployment can cause mixed emotions. While it is often an exciting time, some stress also is normal. Whether this is your family’s first or fifth reunion, each one is different and the change can be challenging. Be patient with yourself, your spouse and your children, and don’t be afraid to ask for help.

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Understanding what’s ahead, being prepared and managing expectations are important for a successful reunion and reintegration.

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There are five key stages within reunion and reintegration. Learn what you may expect during each stage.

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While reuniting with your family after a deployment is an exciting time, there are some things to keep in mind that can ease the transition for everyone.

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For children in particular, reintegration may be emotional or confusing. Here are five ways service members can help make reintegration easier for children.

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Even if your family has experienced deployment before, this time may be different. Focus on how you can make things comfortable right now, and give everyone time to adjust.

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It is important to remember that everyone has changed during the time of the deployment. Find resources for service and family members to help with the adjustments.

Resources, benefits and Military OneSource Services for parenting through deployment

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