These days, finding parenting advice for all kinds of crazy situations seems to be just a few clicks of the mouse away. Online forums, “expert” websites, and blogs seem to have all the answers. Military families, however, are often unable to apply many of the tricks and strategies given. Part of the reason behind this is the amount of time one parent is away from the home. Many of the most successful bits of advice stress the importance of stability and sense of “team” that Mom and Dad have to portray. So what do you do when Dad (or sometimes Mom) has to leave for several months at a time?
The first parenting advice basic to consider is stability. While the military doesn’t afford active duty families the luxury of always having both parents home, keeping to a schedule and enforcing the same rules is still quite possible. Sometimes, it’s easy to let the kids stay up late in an effort to make them feel better after one parent deploys. However, this can quickly become the new habit, and you’ll soon find the children resisting their used-to-be normal schedule. Additionally, allowing the kids to bend the rules, have rewards they didn’t earn, or to get away with things after one parent leaves will give them the sense that they don’t have to listen to the absent parent. If they feel rules only have to be followed when both parents are home, they will begin resisting the absent parent when they return. Moreover, these “special” circumstances honestly aren’t going to take away the fact that one parent is missing for a while.
The next bit of parenting advice to focus on is the sense of “team”. No doubt, as a military family, you already know the value of keeping in touch whenever possible. That being said, it’s highly important never to tell your kids “If you don’t cut it out, I’m going to tell your (father or mother)”. Additionally, never promise the kids you won’t tell the other parent something that they would normally get in trouble for. This leads them to believe that secrets are ok. While Mom and Dad know there isn’t enough time to disclose everything that goes on in the home, the kids should be led to believe that both parents are aware of everything that happens. When the kids ask for something big, tell them you’ll need to discuss it with the absent parent before giving them an answer. In many cases, this might not be possible. For the older kids, you might have to make the decision on your own only when the answer cannot wait. For younger kids, you can often get away with telling them that the absent parent couldn’t get to a phone, but that they had sent a message to you.
While there are many, many other tips and tricks you can do to help the kids cope with one parent being absent, these twists on the cores of most parenting advice can at least give you a head start. Remind the kids in any way you can that just because one parent is gone, does not mean they are any less the child’s parent. Rules still have to be followed, and expectations must still be met. Make sure the kids always feel that sense of Mom and Dad being on the same team. Remember that one bit of parenting advice never works on its own. Instead, it has to be integrated with many other bits of information, strategies, and methods to make up your parenting style, as a whole.↑ Back to Top