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The Children

Don't forget the children during the deployment! They have feelings too, and this section helps explain how you can best support them, pre, during and post deployment.

Pre-Deployment

Talk honestly and openly with children and understand how they are feeling about the separation. Constant reassurances of the departing parent's eventual return are vital. Children worry as much as the rest of us and their concerns are legitimate. Involve them as much as possible in the deployment by discussing the work you will be doing, use the “When a Special Person Goes Away Workbook”

Deployment

Children need extra support and attention during separation. It is important to keep the absent parent in the family's everyday emotional life. Talk about separation and what they miss. This makes feelings seem more painful to start with but helps the subsequent reunion.

Children lose part of their security when a parent leaves. This shows up in varying degrees of unacceptable behaviour such as temper tantrums, or a fall-off in school performance. Expect some questioning about death, "Will daddy kill people or be shot?" It is necessary to address these concerns calmly and honestly even if you are worried about the same thing.

Reunion

Spend as much time as possible with your family after your return. Let children set the pace of getting to know you again. Be careful to avoid making any changes in their routine for a few weeks after returning.

Go slow and be available for them with your time and emotions. Be sensitive about showing favouritism. Encourage them to tell you what has been happening in their lives whilst you have been away. Focus on their achievements, however small and limit criticism.

Accept changes and adapt to it. Learn from how your partner manages the children including the routines and rules in place. Do not give in to demands just because you feel guilty.

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