3 Tips for Military Families: Keeping Your Bonds Intact

Roland Hamand, son of U.S. Army Spc. Eric Hamand, Delta Company, 131st Infantry, shows his winning drawing entitled, "Why I'm proud to be part of a military family." U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. John Walker.
Roland Hamand, son of U.S. Army Spc. Eric Hamand, Delta Company, 131st Infantry, shows his winning drawing entitled, “Why I’m proud to be part of a military family.” U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. John Walker.

The time before, during, and after deployment is usually filled with stress and anxiety no matter how many times your soldier is deployed. It can be extremely difficult coping with both the physical and emotional distance. Also, trying to keep family bonds intact can be a challenging task for both families and soldiers alike. Here are 3 things you can do to help keep those all-important family connections going strong.

1. Communicate With Each Other

It is a good idea to plan for overseas communication. This can be relatively simple since technological advancements have given multiple options to both families and soldiers so that they may remain in contact.

If possible, the soldier should take both a laptop and a telephone. (Be sure to research whether or not these devices will be able to function within the area to which you are deployed.) If you are able to use these electronic devices, you will be able to talk and write to both your spouse, children and other family members on a fairly regular basis. It is important to also bear in mind that availability of these services may occasionally be interrupted, or you may simply be in the field and out of range. While this may cause a bit of stress, it is a common occurrence particularly in a war zone, so patience is sometimes required.

2. Keep the Family “Together”

Basic structure as a family is vital to a child’s development, and working together as parents helps greatly to keep the family unit bonded. Being on the same page regarding discipline and rewards helps to keep both the children and the parents functioning as a complete family unit. It also helps the at-home parent to feel less overwhelmed and alone in child rearing. Plan outings, visits and fun time that can include ideas and feedback from the deployed soldier.

Another great idea is to have the soldier record or make a video recording of themselves reading their child’s favorite story. If they have access to digital devices, he or she may also have the opportunity of saying good night to their children personally. If possible, this should be an everyday bedtime ritual.

Families, especially children need to feel and know that they are loved in order to endure a parent’s deployment. This is also of vital importance to the parent that remains at home; such things greatly reduce their stress and loneliness.

3. Send the Goods!

Another great idea you can use to keep closely in touch with your soldier is to involve family members and children in making up care packages. Everyone loves to give a gift, especially children, and such gifts are heartfelt by the soldier. Shop together for items that the whole family agrees upon, such as toiletries, books or magazines, and some sweet treats. Have the children include homemade cards, letters, and pictures. A video recording or some other form of digital recording lets the soldier see for themselves that everyone is doing fine. Reassurance such as this greatly relieves their minds.

What other ways do you keep your family strong when you’re away?

Teresa Agostino

Originally from Canada, Terri moved to the US at 16 and joined the Army Reserves at 17. She went active Army in 1991, and spent almost 2 years in Iraq as a program analyst for the Army Corps of Engineers. She currently works for the VA as an Accounts Management Supervisor. Terri has her MBA in HR management.
Teresa Agostino

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