(To read Part 1, click here.)
August 16, 2023
Dad is an integral part of the family, the head and leader of the home. Even moms with strong personalities are glad to be sharing the parenting with Dad. So, what can a wife do when her husband is away for long periods of time? I asked Renee Plumberg to share with you what she has done when her husband, Patrick is away, sometimes for a year or more on military deployment.
Last week was the first part of what Renee wrote, and today you are getting more of her ideas. For review, last week she talked about how to keep family identity strong and couch time going. Couch time is important because it showed their 4 boys that Mommy and Daddy are still important to each other and are still parenting together.
Here are more points Renee shares:
“After you have worked on keeping your family feeling strong by working on your family identity and have looked for ways to keep couch time going, the third point for dads to work on to stay connected to the kids is to:
3) Encourage your children. Take time to write encouraging notes to the kids. They can be actual letters telling them what you love about them or as short as leaving a stack of index cards with little “I love you” messages on them for your wife to put in their lunch box or under their pillow when a child is feeling down and is missing his daddy. Your kids will light up from seeing that handwritten note they can hold onto.
My husband prepares Christmas and Birthday cards for each of our children before he leaves for deployment. I passed them on at the appropriate time. Our boys loved this, especially when Dad couldn’t call that day. They knew Dad was thinking about them.
4) Embrace your children…even when you’re not there. Here are some ways we did this with our younger kids.
We had daddy dolls made for each kid that they could sleep with or hug when they felt they needed to. Frame a picture of Dad with each kid and place it by their bed no matter their age, but older kids would rather hang on to this than a doll.
My husband recorded books the boys could listen to in their free time. Just hearing his voice was comforting to them. Dad can record messages reminding each kid of his love and store them on the computer. They can listen to his recordings when they miss him, and he’s unavailable in real-time.
5) Point to our heavenly Father and His Word. Read the Bible to your children over the phone or send verses to think about in a message. Pray over your children when you get to talk to them. Ask them how you can pray for them during the week. Ask them what they learned in church that week and help them work through it.
It can be easy to spend the time you get on the phone just playing catch up but remember God gives you those moments, so point your children to Him during that time.
Depending on your situation, some of these things may take planning and preparation before separation. Mom may need to help facilitate some of these things. It is worth it! Your kids will feel Dad’s absence, but with effort, your children can feel secure and connected as a family despite the distance.
6) Pray together as a family on the phone or by video chat. These little things help kids remember that Dad is excited about and cares for the family.
Carla’s Thoughts: Such creative ways to keep Dad and his family connected. Thank you, Renee. The first church Joey served at as a youth pastor was at the back gate of Camp Pendleton, a large Marine Corps base in Southern California. The housing for enlisted personnel with families was at that gate, and many young couples visited our church. The people of the church didn’t get very involved with these families because they were so often transferred elsewhere. Most of these wives with young children were under 21 years old and their family and friends were usually across the country, so I (Carla) started what I called the Military Wives Fellowship, a weekly Bible Study and fellowship group. We started with just a few moms, but grew to over 100 moms because the need to be connected was so great. When I could tell a mom was sinking into a deep depression, I would contact her mother and ask her to come for a visit of at least 2 weeks to encourage and love on her and her kids. My point, if you find yourself in a situation where your husband is gone on work business frequently or for long periods of time, please call for help. There is always someone who God has prepared to help you.
“And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.”