Have you ever noticed that it’s easier to see changes when you’re away from something or someone for a long time? When you’re around your children day after day, you might not notice that they get taller. But when you don’t see them for some time, don’t they seem a lot taller when you get back together?
The biggest complaint many military personnel have about deployment is the changes that they miss in their children. They might miss the first steps, the first words, the first birthday, or the first prom. Children aren’t the only ones who will change during deployment. Mom will have learned new tasks that she used to rely on dad to do. Deployment can strain relationships between dads and moms. So dad must work just as hard at staying connected with mom as he does with his kids.
What about once dad has returned home for his deployment? It isn’t always the “honeymoon” dads and their families think it is going to be. Each deployment and return home can differ based on the nature and length of deployment and the changes the family goes through.
It’s important to provide Military dads with fatherhood skills and resources to help them stay connected during deployment and reintegrate upon their return. Without this, dads can lose touch while away, families suffer from similar father absence effects as children whose fathers leave for non-duty reasons, and fathers come back unprepared to face their “new” family life.