- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 20, 2009

Dear Ms. Vicki,

Everyone says children are resilient and they bounce back with little effort, but my children are having a hard time coping with their father’s deployment.

I live off base but have access to the services. However, I keep finding the same old material and resource information about children and deployments and I’m trying to find new information to help me engage my children, ages 3, 5 and 7. I don’t think they are depressed, but my husband has been deployed now for three months and they are still crying and saying how much they miss him.

I would appreciate any other information or resources you may have. — Deployment and Children

Dear Deployment,

The American Academy of Pediatrics has a Web site dedicated to deployments, including videos (www.aap.org/sections/unifserv/deployment/index.htm). The Department of Defense Military Community and Family Policy program has a good Web site, too (www.military homefront.dod.mil). There are other resources available as well.

Remember, this is not a time to isolate yourself from others or believe you are the only one facing this issue, because you are not.

Much has been written about the cycle, or phases, of deployment. Research shows it takes two to three months to settle into a rhythm or establish some sense of normalcy. You are at the 90-day mark and may begin to see a difference in your children.

The last part of my advice is paramount to the emotional and mental health of your children: Children will exude the emotional state of their caregiver. For this reason, it is important that you take care of yourself and reach out to others for support.

Lastly, try to keep a consistent routine for your children — bedtime, dinner, naps, play time, etc. Try to find a great baby sitter so you can get some “me” time or spend time with your girlfriends.

Keep in touch and let me know how you are doing.

Reader responses:

• I think your response to Misty in Delaware on Sept. 6 was a little too gentle. Why she would expect her husband’s employer to pay her anything, after he had not shown up for work in eight months is completely beyond me. Misty thinks her husband being AWOL should have nothing to do with the military entitlements (pay) for her and the children! She needs a serious reality check.

Unfortunately, she has let this go on way too long for her own good, and the protection of her children. Eight months is impossible to sweep under the rug. There are going to be some serious consequences for his action, and her inaction. I do not see this marriage surviving. Misty needs to take immediate, mature, responsible action to protect herself and the children. Unfortunately, “immediate, mature and responsible” are three things she needs to learn ASAP. — Fred

• Ms. Vicki, on Sept. 6 you told a soldier to cut off his freeloading mother. How dare you! His mother gave birth to him and he should always do what he can to help take care of her. It doesn’t matter if she has a boyfriend or not because that is none of her son’s business. You should never try to come between the bond of a mother and her children. Ms. Vicki, know your place.

• Ms. Vicki, your comments were right on to the young man who was taking care of his freeloading mother. She needs to get off her duff and get a job and become productive like everyone else. Why can’t she work and help take the burden off her young son, who is working hard and living off pennies serving his country? The fact that she has a boyfriend really takes this story over the top!

Vicki Johnson is a licensed clinical social worker, military spouse and mother of three. Contact her at [email protected]

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