Recconecting after deployment

Tips to help children of all ages reconnect with their service member when they return.

Follow these tips to help during reintegration time with your service member. Photo credit: Pixabay.
Follow these tips to help during reintegration time with your service member. Photo credit: Pixabay.

According to Michigan State University Extension, returning from a deployment is often a mixture of emotions because everyone is excited and happy to have their service member home, but they can also be worried about how their family will reconnect with all the changes that have taken place during the deployment.

Remember these helpful tips suggested by Operation: Military Kids, Ready, Set, Go Training during reintegration time with your service member:

  • Keep expecations realistic: Even though family members all love each other try to not create expectations that are not realistic. Expect that there are going to times when things are a little rocky or don’t go as planned and that’s OK!
  • Expect strong emotions: It’s normal to feel strong emotions during reintegration. Nervousness, anxiousness and happiness are all normal to feel during reintegration. Recognize what emotions you are feeling and communicate that among family members.
  • Reserve family time: For the few weeks that the service member is home, it might be a good idea to set aside time for just your immediate family to spend time together. This will allow you time to reconnect as a family before celebrating with extended family and friends.
  • Relax and enjoy being together: There may be a lot of issues to work on, but it’s best to take some time and reconnect, relax and enjoy being back together before jumping right in and trying to tackle everything.
  • Be willing to give space: Everyone will want to be together, but people may need some space at times. Give each other space when it’s needed so that everyone has time to themselves when they need it.

In a series of articles, MSU Extension will look at what behaviors at different ages parents and caregivers may experience with their children during reintegration and how parents, caregivers and service members can support their children during the process.

If you are interested in activities that can help your family reconnect, visit the MSU Extension website and take a look at the 4-H Military Family Booksheets. These are helpful activities to help families during deployment all based around children’s books. 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. Deplyment: The emotional cycle of deployment 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.

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