Military life involves sacrifice. Physical sacrifice of course, the giving up of creature comforts is obvious when soldiers are out in the field. But there are also sacrifices made of their family life.
Even before birth a baby is bonding and attaching to primary caregivers. At about the third month of life inside the womb, an infant develops their sense of sound. About midway through a pregnancy, parents can feel their child’s reaction to noises. Even before birth, a baby will startle (jump) at a loud noise. A baby may calm and sleep in response to mellow music.
By the time a baby is born, he or she shows a distinct preference to familiar voices. Try having mom or dad talk on side of the baby and a nurse or other unfamiliar person on the other. The baby will turn toward the familiar voice. This is all part of the bonding and attachment process.
When dad is deployed during pregnancy and the early weeks or months of a baby’s life, he misses out on some of these bonding opportunities. Families can keep dad present by playing videos or voice recordings of his voice to the baby so that his voice remains a familiar one.
With older children when mom or dad is away, pictures of the absent parent can be laminated for the child to carry with them at all times. Frequent phone calls, emails, and with today’s technology, even video conferencing help keep that parent’s presences alive for the child. Teachers, family members and caregivers should speak of the absent parent frequently and answer the child’s questions appropriately.
Pictures, cards, letters, email and phone calls will help keep the parent and child connected to each other and help ease the separation and make reunion go easier and more smoothly.
There are meet up groups for military spouses, fiancés and significant others. Meeting with others who are going through the same issues can be beneficial to many people.
For civilians wishing to help out, there is also a Deployed Soldiers Family Foundation Charity to help soldiers and their families by providing things such as wellness weekends, financial help for times of crisis and help with Christmas for military families in need.