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1001 Tips for Military Families – #430

PreDeployment: When & What To Tell – Tip #430

It is hard to know how soon and how much to tell your family and friends that someone they love and care about is going to be away for a long time, without a definite return date and to a place where they are going to be potentially in danger on a regular basis.  There is no right or wrong answer but there are a few tips to breaking the news that you may find helpful.


Don’t be in a rush or distracted when you decide to tell others about the deployment

Be as positive as possible about the deployment before telling anyone else

Don’t share too much all at once. This will give them time to process the absence before thinking about all the other worries and concerns

Give the news during a period of time when you know you are going to be spending a lot of time together

If you have not been given a lot of time don’t fall into the trap of thinking you have to give information as quickly as possible and as much as possible. Present the absence and answer their questions first

Have strategies for coping with the absence in place before talking about it (Mom is going away for the next 6 months for work but we are going to be able to write to her everyday or we are really going to miss her but one way we are going to be able to stay in touch is…)

Begin to talk about what your family member is going to miss (Christmas, birthdays, etc.) and how you going to celebrate these things in their absence

Answer questions honestly and calmly (they will know when you are lying and if you aren’t calm, they won’t be either)

Listen to what they are saying, repeat back to them what you think they are saying and then don’t offer a lot of solutions. Sometimes your family just wants to feel heard and they will often say more when you aren’t jumping to find solutions.

For more information about our tips, books or resources go to: www.whileyouwereaway.org


One Response

  1. I love this blog. Our children have special needs and wouldn’t have understood if, when daddy comes back, we told them daddy was going back to work. We feared the anxiety this would bring them. Instead, our kids believe the deployment to be something fun and exciting: Daddy is getting his turn (and we must take turns) to be a Superhero. He is going to Afghanistan to fight dragons and when he comes home it will be someone else’s turn to be a Superhero. My kids are now excited for Daddy to get to be like Superman, Ironman, or the Incredible Hulk (lol). They may not understand it all, and I’m still going to have issues as they miss him and it sinks in, but at least this way they are happy to see him leave and he doesn’t have to see them get upset. That’s the hardest part. 🙂

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