My grandson will turn three in June, he frequently is asking now: “Where’s Daddy?” “When is Daddy going to take me swimming?” “I miss Daddy”. “Mommy, why isn’t Daddy here?”
When my daughter-in-law told me this, it broke my heart. She tries very hard not to cry in front of the baby because she knows he’s too little to understand how much mommies miss daddies too. She is also worried about how they should handle yet another good-bye when my son has to return back to Iraq after R&R.
What is the right thing to do? Take him to the airport so he can give his Daddy one more hug? Leave him at home with Grandmom and Grandpop taking away one more precious Daddy and son moment?
One of the most moving photographs I have of them was taken the morning my son left for Iraq (last deployment) back in 2006. My daughter-in-law, holding the baby (then only 3 months old) sleeping peacefully, my son crisp in a brand new ACU, hair freshly cut, paratrooper fade, scarlet airborne beret in one hand, and his other hand gently touching the baby’s head with a look on his face that still brings tears to my eyes today.
How do you explain the complexities of the world to a young child? Base after base, in every branch of the armed services, this same picture appears in the photo albums of all military families. It doesn’t matter the child’s age; every phase of childhood development presents a challenge to the military family.
Military children face many challenges, additionally increased stress related to deployments, less time spent with a parent or sometimes both, and frequent moves.
A few weeks ago I wrote an article about the Sesame Street Program on military families. Below, you will find an annotated list of resources, each was examined and annotated (author’s notes and additions].
I would like to thank my fellow blogger “military health” (DoD, Military Health System Website) for the website I based this list on and dug in deeper for even more sources. These resources will give you tools and valuable information on what you can do to help your child overcome the unique challenges associated with military life. This post will be abbreviated (otherwise it would be way too long for the blog) and graphics reduced in size.
Kids.gov – An official U.S. government kids’ portal that provides resources to children and parents, and contains a variety of interesting and educational content for kids. Kids.gov links to over 1,200 web pages from government agencies, schools, and educational organizations.
America Supports You – Kids Take Action – Find out how kids like you are supporting our American troops.
CIA’s Parents & Teachers Page – This section gives you additional resources, lesson plans, and discussion points for you and your children/students to learn more about the CIA and its history of intelligence. [There are other CIA pages for Grades: K-5th and Grades 6th - 12th).]
FBI Working Dogs – The FBI has some very special working dogs. Power is the newest addition to the group of Working Dogs at FBI Headquarters. His job as a Chemical Explosives Dog is to sniff out bombs, explosion debris, firearms, and ammunition. Other FBI Working Dogs find drugs, money, and people. Just how do they do it? There are additional pages, Grades K-5 and Grades 6-12.
Special Needs – Military Homefront – Resources for special needs children from military families — newsletter subscription, mentoring groups, Webinars, resources, checklists, advocates, support programs, and more.
Veterans History Project – (Library of Congress) – The Veterans History Project relies on volunteers to collect and preserve stories of wartime service. You can browse the first-hand accounts from veterans of some of the wars America fought in. (Also has Youth Resources Pages).
MTOM – MTOM for Kids provides information to help children successfully make the transition when their family moves. The site covers saying goodbye, how to move, and being a kid. Sections are divided into younger children and teens.
Deployment Kids – Deployment Kids offers children’s activities related to deployment, including downloads, a distance calculator, journals, and games.
Wacky Grownups! A great section for kids to understand how grown-ups feel during their loved one's deployment.
VA Kids – VA Kids offers a variety of games, resources, scholarship information, and links for students in grades K through fifth and sixth through twelfth. Information is also provided for teachers, grades K-5, 6-12.
American Academy of Pediatrics - The American Academy of Pediatrics Military Youth Deployment Support Web site has been designed to support military youth, families, and the youth-serving professionals caring for this population.
Our Military Kids – Provides support to the children of deployed and severely injured National Guard and Military Reserve service members. The site provides activities and tutoring that nurture and sustain children while their parents serve.
National Military Family Association – The NMFA educates military families about their rights, benefits, and services available to them, and provides information regarding the issues that affect their lives. Excellent, information for all age children, teens, and spouses.
Operation Military Kids – Operation Military Kids is the U.S. Army’s collaborative effort with America’s communities to support children and youth impacted by deployment.
Military Child – Military Child Education Coalition is a non-profit organization that identifies and addresses the challenges facing the highly mobile military child.
Connect For Kids – Connect for Kids gives its Web site visitors the information and tools they need to learn about issues affecting children, families, and communities.
Transforming Kids’ Lives Through Free Arts Programs: Founded in 2001, ARTS is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization driven by people who believe in the power of the arts to heal, inspire and empower **check this site, has a form for children to communicate with their deployed fathers.
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration – SAMHSA focuses on building resilience and facilitating recovery for people with or at risk for mental or substance use disorders.
Zero to Three – Zero to Three informs, trains, and supports professionals, policymakers, and parents in their efforts to improve the lives of infants and toddlers.