Many kids and teenagers have been through multiple deployments of their military parent. For some kids their parent has probably been gone more than they have been home. Some youth actually report that they do better as they "get used to" their parent periodically being gone. Why is that?
People like to know what to expect. Think about walking into English class at the start of school or going to your first practice. The first day is usually the toughest. After a few days you catch the rhythm. You find out what the teacher or coach wants you to do. You know what to expect and even though you still don't like English life is easier.
Deployments are just the same. After you have been through a deployment or two, you know what to expect. Now you know that dad will want to spend every minute with you before he leaves. The day you say good-bye will be lousy. He won't always call when he says he will. Things will change at home while he's gone. He won't come home on the exact day they say he will. He'll drive you crazy for a couple of weeks or even months when he gets home. Many of these events are tough. But knowing they are coming gives you the edge because now you know what to expect.
- Some kids worry that not getting all stressed out about a new deployment means they don't care. Remind yourself that feeling strong and confident that you can handle your parent's absence is not the same as "I don't care."
- Expect some surprises. Lots of things could be different with this new deployment.
- You're also doing better with each new deployment because you've figured out what YOU can do to make things better.
- If you are struggling with a new deployment, you are not alone. Not all kids do better. Try any of the things that helped you last time — focus on positive actions and not harmful ones.