4-H Military Family Book Sheets: 'Mommy, You’re My Hero'

Children’s books provide a way for parents, caregivers and young children to learn about deployment and the many changes that happen by reading about other military families, children or situations that have experienced deployment.

Military mom holding baby
Books offer an opportunity to talk about how the family will adjust to the changes that happen during a deployment.

Deployment can be a stressful time for families, especially young children. During deployment, many changes are taking place within the family and young children may not be able to fully understand them. Many times, young children are unable to fully process what a deployment means and why their service member is gone. A great way to help explain deployment and give young children an idea of what to expect can be to use children’s books.

Children’s books provide a way for parents, caregivers and young children to learn about deployment and the many changes that happen during a deployment. By reading about other military families, children and situations, they will be able to recognize that they are not alone and that other families are having experiences and feelings that are similar to their own. Books also offer an opportunity for parents and caregivers to connect with their young child one-on-one and provide a special time to talk about how the family will adjust to the upcoming changes.

The 4-H Military Family Book Sheets help parents and guardians find books and activities to help their children during the various stages of their service members’ deployments. Each book sheet contains a summary of the book, author and publication details, and activities they can use with their children pre-, during or post-deployment to extend the message of the book. To find each book, check with your local library, bookstore or online retailer.

Michigan State University Extension has put together a family book sheet on the book “Mommy, You’re My Hero” by Michelle Ferguson-Cohen. This story targets children of service members about to deploy. The book addresses deployment from a child’s perspective and offers small ways to help families communicate during deployment. The 4-H Military Family Book Sheets: 'My Dad’s a Hero' is also available.

Download a PDF file of “Mommy, You’re My Hero.”

Pre-deployment activities

  • Talk with your child about where your service member will go. Focus on similarities and differences. For example, what will the weather be like where your service member is going? Will it be hot or cold? How is that different from what your child will experience? Display a map showing your home as well as the deployment location by putting thumbtacks or stickers on the map. Emphasize that even though you will be far apart you will always love each other.
  • Talk about ways your children can help around the house during your service member’s absence. What special chores can they do to allow them to feel helpful? Allow them into the decision-making process to choose chores such as feeding a pet or keeping their rooms clean. Make it clear that even doing required tasks such as homework without complaining is helpful. Let them know that their contributions are important to you and your service member. 

During-deployment activities

  • Use the map you created to show various places that your child and your service member may visit. For example, if your service member goes to a different location, put a sticker on that location. If your family goes on vacation or goes to visit friends or relatives in another town, put a sticker on those locations.
  • Set aside time each week to draw or write to your service member. Send some of the drawings or letters through the mail, but keep some for when he or she comes home.

 Post-deployment activities

  • Share drawings or letters with your service member when they return. Do only a few pages at a time so that your service member does not get overwhelmed and you can all focus on each special event as a family.
  • Use the map that you created to show your service member all the places you have visited while he or she was gone. Share your favorite memory from each trip and have your service member do the same with the places he or she visited.

If you are looking for more articles about deployment support, check out Finding support for children and youth with deployed family members for a helpful checklist on who might support your child or youth during your service member’s deployment, and the Emotional cycle of deployment that explains each stage of the deployment cycle and gives helpful activities you can do to keep your family connected. You can also find additional deployment support information on the Military OneSource website, the Operation: Military Kids website and the 4-H Military Partnerships website.

For more articles on child development, academic success, parenting and life skill development, please visit the Michigan State University Extension website.

To learn about the positive impact children and families experience due to MSU Extension programs, read our 2017 impact report. Additional impact reports, highlighting even more ways Michigan 4-H and MSU Extension positively impacted individuals and communities in 2017, can be downloaded from the Michigan 4-H website.

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