As a single Dad, I know how tough it can be helping your children to cope with the absence of their mother. Whether that absence is because of divorce, death or military deployment, it’s never easy for kids to adjust.
How each child will react to the absence of one of their parents depends on their personality – no two kids behave the same. Of all the single fathers, I have met, one of the most common reasons for being a lone parent is having your spouse called for active duty.
Most people expect it to be the moms who stay home and take care of the kids while the dad is deployed. But today, this isn’t how it works.
I may not be a military dad, but since getting divorced I have learned a few tricks to help my kids deal with the absence of their mother.
Always be honest
Don’t lie to your child about the whereabouts of their mother or give them a fake date of when they will return. Always try to be as honest as possible when you are talking about their mom with them.
When your child asks where their mother is, tell them the truth. The way you explain to your child about where their mommy is will depend on how young they are. The younger the child, the harder it is to explain about deployment.
Spend time with other military families
To help your child realize that they are not alone, spending time with other military families is important. Allowing your children to talk to other kids going through the same thing is important.
Take your child along to military events and schedule play dates to allow your child to mix with other military kids.
If your wife is going to be away a lot, consider moving to housing in a military community, such as to an Ultris Banyan Grove property. Moving to a military community will give your child the opportunity to spend time with other kids in the same boat as them.
Answer their questions
Many children whose mothers are deployed have lots of questions about it. Sit down with them and let them ask as many questions as they want.
Some children don’t understand why their mother had to go and will wonder if they did something wrong. Always explain to your child that their mom didn’t leave because of anything they did, it was because she had to for work.
Some children worry about their parents safety and will ask you whether they are safe. This can be a tricky question, especially if they are on active duty. Aim always to answer this kind of questions truthfully, but without worrying your child.
Talk about mommy
When your partner is deployed, it is important that you keep talking to your child about them.
Tell stories about mommy and tell jokes, reminisce about memories and fun times you have all had together. Even saying things like, “Mommy loves garlic bread, lets have that with dinner”. Talking about your child’s mother will help your child to understand that she is still a part of their life.
Being a single dad, whether permanently or temporarily isn’t easy. Especially, when your little ones miss their mommy. But as long as you are there to help and support them, your children should adjust to having an absent mommy pretty quickly.