With the Veterans Day this past Sunday, we recognize the armed services protecting our country from harm around the world. There is no question that these Americans are heroes. But what we also must remember is that many of these Americans are parents, aunts, uncles, and grand parents with families praying for their safety every day.
For an armed service man or woman to have to serve their duty while leaving a child at home with their spouse or guardian is an unforeseeable challenge many have to face.
From the last government audit (GAO) study conducted by the Department of Defense, it was found that over 1.5 million of the military personnel across all branches had at least one child. Another key insight from the data shows that there are at least 100,000 to 125,000 [military] children who have disabilities of some sort.
To the parent or guardian left at home with the astounding duty of raising a child with special needs, please know you’re not alone. Here are some ways to help your child cope with a loved deployed:
Share your emotions, but don’t overdo it. It’s OK to let your child know you miss your spouse. But it can be scary for her to see you fall apart. Children will take their cues from you when it comes to expressing their emotions.
Help your child share his feelings. Because children often have trouble expressing their feelings, you may have to help them come up with the words. If you say, “I really miss Daddy when he’s away,” your child will have the words to voice his emotions.
Help your child communicate with his deployed parent. Help your child write a letter or a postcard. Video teleconferencing (VTC) can be a great way for your children to keep up with their deployed parent. When a child can see her parent on the computer screen, the parent may not seem so far away.
Keep up your daily routine. Many children, especially those with special needs, thrive on routine
Avoid watching the news or discussing events that are happening in the area where your spouse is deployed. Your child may not fully understand the events and the media coverage may be overwhelming.
Celebrate special occasions. Even though you may not feel like celebrating, it’s important to mark holidays, birthdays, and other occasions with special meals and traditions. Not only is a celebration a welcome distraction, it can help mark the time until your loved one returns home.
For additional support for military families with special needs children, please visit these external sites:
Do you have another tip to share to help parents raise a special needs child with a loved one deployed? Let us know in the comments! Make sure to follow PresenceLearning on twitter @PresenceLearning and “Like” us on Facebook!