November is Military Family Month, and as a leading nonprofit dedicated to strengthening community through youth development, healthy living and social responsibility, the Gateway Region YMCA offers the following tips to help children of military families cope while loved ones serve overseas.
- Avoid the Countdown: Try not to focus on the expected homecoming date of a loved one serving overseas as these dates can change. Instead, emphasize how mom or dad will be home once the work is done.
- Give a Geography Lesson: Using maps and books to learn more about the place or region where the parent is stationed will empower the child and provide some comfort.
- Family Ties that Bind: Help the child stay connected during separation by building holiday care packages for the parent and taking advantage of services like United Through Reading that videotapes a parent reading their child’s favorite book or the Armed Services YMCA’s Operation Kid Comfort program that provides a personally handcrafted quilt or pillow.
- Monitor the Media: News stories can scare or alarm children, keep an eye on the child’s media exposure and be prepared to answer questions prompted by what they see and hear.
- Take Advantage of the Internet: Utilize Facebook, Skype and other chat services to keep in touch with the parent in real-time. This will let the child know their parent is safe while providing important bonding time.
More resources for military and veteran families can be found here.