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How to Stay Connected While Miles Apart

Service Member with family

Source: U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Khoa Pelczar/Released

Deployments or other separations can be tough for military families, including new parents. When a child is born, parents may experience new emotions. The deployed parent may miss some of the baby’s first moments that parents hope to be present for and share. If extended family is not close by to help them adjust, this can be very stressful and emotional for both the parent away and the parent at home.

While stress can be common for families during deployment or other long-term separations, there are programs available to help. One resource is the New Parent Support Program (NPSP). It is sponsored by an installation’s Family Advocacy Program. Parents can use this program to learn what to expect before, during and after pregnancy. They can also learn how to stay in touch during a deployment or other period of separation.

In this article you will learn about the resources available to help new parents stay connected with their children during separations.

New Parent Support Program

The parent support program offers many support services for parents and children. They provide parents with the resources they need to build strong bonds with their babies and toddlers, deal with the stresses of parenting in a military family, grow a strong support group and find resources in their community. Services include:

  • Home and hospital visits from program staff
  • Referrals to other resources
  • Prenatal classes
  • Parenting classes
  • Playgroups

To find the program closest to you, use the military installation locator and select “New Parent Support Program” from the drop-down menu of programs and services.1

Staying Connected During Separations

Sometimes a parent may need to deploy or leave for a training exercise soon after a baby is born. In this case, keeping in touch may be more difficult. Thankfully there are things you can do to make the parent who is away feel connected.

  1. The parent who is away can read a bedtime story out loud to your child over a video-conferencing tool like Skype or Google+.
  2. Send emails of baby pictures to your service member.
  3. Send your service member a package filled with items that remind him or her of your child, like a blanket, pictures or handprints.
  4. Record your service member’s voice reading children's books or sharing a message. You can play this for your children whenever you want to remind them of the parent who is away from home.

Reaching Out Makes a Real Difference

Tools like the New Parent Support Program can help you cope with being a new parent. But if you or someone you know needs additional tools for building and maintaining family readiness, log on to Real Warriors Live Chat or call the Psychological Health Resource Center at 866-966-1020. Trained health care professionals are available 24/7 to offer free assistance for keeping families strong throughout the deployment cycle.

Additional Resources

Sources

1Having a Baby While Your Spouse or Partner is Deployed,” Military OneSource. Last accessed Apr. 30, 2014.

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