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Keeping families connected through deployment

Posted 4/17/2008

UNCE publication offers ways to strengthen parent bonds with younger children

Deployment changes family life in many ways.

The University of Nevada Cooperative Extension has released a publication that offers ideas to assist children ages 1 to 5 cope with an absent loved one. It is available for free and online at www.unce.unr.edu.

"As a parent leaves, the care of the children and household is left to the remaining parent or other family members," states the publication. "It is a difficult time for all family members, and young children often reflect the emotions of their parents. If you are sad and upset, your child may become sad and upset."

When a loved one goes away for an extended amount of time due to deployment it can be unsettling to a child’s sense of security. By developing family traditions and routines, as Bridging the Miles suggests, family members can help children create a greater sense of security and bridge the miles while the loved one is away.

Bridging the Miles offers tips to help children before, during and after deployment. For example, families can start a family scrapbook, have a treasure hunt or create a "time jar" before deployment. During deployment, activities can include letters at dinner, photos, videos and email, family journals and "I Love You" rituals. Returning home from deployment, Bridging the Miles offers ideas on ways children and parents can reconnect. A resource list of books and websites is also included in the publication.

For more information, Visit UNCE and click on publications tab, then Children Family Youth and search "Bridging the Miles" under the title category.

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