News Journal (New Castle, DE)
I Miss You!: A Military Kid's Book about Deploymentby Beth Andrews
Military families face stressful times that are unique to the military lifestyle. One of the most challenging situations, both for children and parents, is when a father, mother, or sibling is deployed for military service and must be away from the home. Children often experience sadness, anger, fear, anxiety, and loneliness, and they do not understand their own
Military families face stressful times that are unique to the military lifestyle. One of the most challenging situations, both for children and parents, is when a father, mother, or sibling is deployed for military service and must be away from the home. Children often experience sadness, anger, fear, anxiety, and loneliness, and they do not understand their own feelings or know how to express them.
This book is designed to help children especially, but also their parents, during such difficult times. Based on many years of experience as a social worker, who has assisted military families experiencing stress, author Beth Andrews has created an excellent tool for allowing children and their loved ones to deal with the many emotions caused by deployment. The text and illustrations encourage children to discuss their feelings and to draw their own pictures to express themselves. The accompanying parents’ guide is designed to validate parents’ feelings and give them ways to help their children cope.
Guided by this approach, a parent or caregiver can help their children understand why one of their parents or a sibling had to leave home, identify their reactions, cope with their feelings in a positive way, be assured that they are not alone, and try new activities to help themselves adjust.
At a time when military families are asked to make many sacrifices in the service of their country, this reassuring book will be a welcome resource.
- Prometheus Books
- Publication date:
- Sales rank:
- Product dimensions:
- 8.00(w) x 8.01(h) x 0.13(d)
- Age Range:
- 2 - 5 Years
Read an Excerpt
i miss you!
By Beth Andrews
Prometheus BooksCopyright © 2007 Beth Andrews
All right reserved.
Chapter OneGUIDE FOR FAMILY MEMBERS AND OTHER CARING ADULTS
Military families face stressful times that are unique to the military lifestyle.
Deployment is one of the most difficult situations, both for children and for parents. It is difficult for the person who is gone because he is often exhausted, living in poor conditions, lonely, feeling helpless to solve problems at home, and missing his family terribly. Deployment is difficult for the children because they miss their parent and feel sad, angry, afraid, anxious, and lonely. Because children do not know how to express or understand these feelings, they often act them out in their behavior. Younger children may not understand why their parent is gone, only that Mom or Dad has disappeared. Since they do not have the concepts of time or perspective that adults have, it feels like forever to them.
For older children there is more of an understanding intellectually, but they may also have more worries about their parent's safety. Some of the same feelings may be present if it is another family member who the child is close to.
Deployment is difficult for the caregivers who are left behind because they often get thebrunt of the children's anger, sadness, despair, and fear and don't know how to help them feel better. This all comes at a time when they are feeling great sadness, fear, and loneliness themselves. Added to this is the stress of the responsibility of making decisions, coping with crises, and handling a household and children alone. They may be at their worst and most stressed out just when the children are at their worst-withdrawn, whiny, throwing tantrums, needy, clingy, oppositional, or angry.
How This Book Can Help
The purpose of this book is to help children:
1. Understand what deployment is and why their parent has to leave.
2. Identify and understand their feelings and reactions.
3. Cope with their feelings in a positive way.
4. Know that they are not alone.
5. Try new things to help themselves feel better.
This book should be read by or to children with the help of a parent or other caring adult and then used for further discussion. It does not necessarily have to be completed all at once. Read one section at a time, stopping to discuss it before moving on.
This book encourages children to draw their feelings and experiences because drawing pictures seems to help children cope with feelings, especially for young children who don't yet know the words to use to describe what they think or feel. Talk about the drawings and your child's feelings and thoughts as much as your child wants.
Stages of Deployment
Pincus et al. (2001) identified five separate emotional stages that families go through in deployment, and the feelings and difficulties that go with each:
Predeployment starts with the warning order for deployment and ends when the parent actually leaves. Typically, families go back and forth between denial and anticipation of loss, which results in a sort of psychological pulling away. It is common for spouses to have a major argument as a way of buffering the pain of the loss. Children may cry, throw tantrums, regress, or withdraw.
Deployment is the period from the parent's departure through the first month of deployment. Here there can be a great deal of sadness, numbness, worry, and loneliness for everyone. Families may feel overwhelmed and disoriented.
Sustainment is the bulk of the separation. Spouses may begin to feel more confident as they find new support systems and develop a routine. Reactions in children often depend on the age of the child. Infants and toddlers usually do well if their parent/caregiver is doing well and does not become too depressed. Preschoolers may regress, become more cranky, or become more clingy. School-age children may whine and complain more, begin acting out their feelings in their behavior, or they may withdraw. Adolescents may become more rebellious, irritable, may fight, or do other behaviors to get attention.
Redeployment is defined as the month before the parent comes home. There is often a mix of excitement and anxiety about the reunion.
Postdeployment happens after the homecoming and is often, surprisingly, the most difficult. After a "honeymoon" period, children may react in different ways depending on their age and level of understanding. Infants and toddlers are often slow to warm up and sometimes do not recognize their parent. Older children may be very clingy or feel scared and guilty. Teenagers may be moody and distant. Children of all ages may be angry that their parent has been gone. Some children show anxiety for as long as a year after the homecoming out of fear that the parent will leave again.
Helping Your Child Cope with Deployment
Sitting down with your child and this book is a good way to begin. Here are some ongoing ways you can help your child cope:
1. When possible, talk as a family before the deployment happens. With older children, give as much advance warning as possible to give them time to adjust to the idea. With younger children, a few days to a week are probably better. Encourage them to express feelings and ask questions, and respond using "honesty with restraint." This means answering a child's questions honestly, but not giving them more information than they need. Fit the answers to their age and developmental level.
Military Advantage, Inc., an informational Web site for military families, suggests that you do not lie and do not make promises that you may not be able to keep, but do not give kids a lot of anxiety-provoking details. It is also OK to say "I don't know."
2. It is important for children to hear that their parents love them and that it is not their fault that a parent has to go away. It is also important for the parent who is going away to say good-bye, and not just disappear during the night.
3. Tell relatives, friends, teachers, daycare providers, coaches, chaplains, and others so they can give your child extra support and attention during this time. If your child is in a school with other military kids, that can be a good support. Don't be afraid to ask for help, especially when you are feeling overwhelmed.
4. Listen to your child and help him or her identify and name feelings. Respond in a nonjudgmental way, and communicate your acceptance of whatever feelings are there. Teach them positive ways to express their feelings (see pages 30-31 and 38-41).
5. Limit the amount of news, especially television. This is especially important during wartime. Younger children can be traumatized by the graphic images on TV, so save it for after they are in bed. With older children, watch the news with them and discuss it afterward (Macias; Sweeten).
6. Children should not be expected to take over adult responsibilities around the house. It is also important not to burden children with your worries or expect them to listen to your problems. Find other caring adults who you can talk to, such as friends, neighbors, relatives, support groups, clergy, and therapists.
7. Be consistent with rules, discipline, and routine. This gives children a sense of safety and security (Macias).
8. Children are very good at sensing your feelings. If you are doing well, they will cope better. Take care of yourself. Don't use alcohol and drugs to cope. Exercise, eat a healthy diet, and get enough sleep.
Take breaks to do activities you enjoy and to be with other adults. Remember, you are probably running a marathon, not a sprint! Be gentle with yourself. Sweeten and Kreis both suggest that you lower your expectations of yourself, and decide what is really a priority.
9. Have fun with your children! Missing the parent who is absent does not have to mean that you cannot do fun activities while he or she is gone.
10. Everyone in the family needs to be patient and gentle with themselves and others during the postdeployment period. Often this is even harder than the separation.
Excerpted from i miss you! by Beth Andrews Copyright © 2007 by Beth Andrews. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Meet the Author
Beth Andrews, LCSW (Grand Junction, CO), is a social worker and currently a clinical supervisor at Colorado West Mental Health Center.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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I liked how this book has information on how to help children adjust to deployements, though a bit old for my children (3 and under). I believe this would be good for grade schoole age children. Good infomation and good content, though!