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Stay Connected with Deployed Parents

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock

Photo Credit: Jupiterimages/Thinkstock

It can be difficult for families to stay in touch or feel connected when a parent is deployed. Using online programs, such as the ones highlighted in this article, can help families maintain regular communication, reassure children about their parent’s deployment and reinforce parents’ bonds with their children.1

Families can use the online resources listed below to stay connected throughout deployment by communicating in private chats, sharing creative works and learning about the country or countries that a parent may visit during their deployment. These resources can also be used to connect with other military families and share common experiences as well as coping tools and resources to help families manage common military stressors such as multiple deployments and frequent relocations.

Military Families Near and Far

This English and Spanish language website for preschool and school-aged children and their families helps military families communicate and connect through social networks and by creating and sharing art, music and videos. Created in partnership by Sesame Workshop, The Electric Company and Psychological Health Center of Excellence (PHCoE), Military Families Near and Far also provides extensive resources and support to military families with children who are coping with transitions in their lives to help them become more resilient.

Through the website, children can:

  • Create and send greeting cards, music compositions and artwork that can be customized with color, words, family photos and virtual stickers
  • Create audio and video messages that can be played by a deployed parent anytime

The site also gives families the opportunity to:

  • Create their own network to post messages and status updates
  • Compile an online scrapbook of all the works made on Military Families Near and Far as well other photos, videos and messages that can be shared with a deployment parent

Sign up for Military Families Near and Far today for free.

MilitaryKidsConnect

An online community of military children ages 6 to 17, MilitaryKidsConnect is an initiative from the National Center for Telehealth and Technology that provides age-appropriate resources to support children through all stages of the deployment cycle. In addition to tools to help kids stay connected with deployed parents such as those highlighted below, the site offers activities, games and videos to help military children cope with separation during deployment. It also features resources for parents and teachers by children’s age group. Tools include:

  • An interactive map that allows children to learn about daily life in the country where their parent is deployed. With this activity, children can explore the selected country and learn about the local way of life – typical foods, traditional clothing and the language – sparking ideas for conversation with the deployed parent
  • A personal scrapbook that children can use to reflect on their experiences while their parent is away. For older kids and teens, a "digital scrapbook" encourages kids to create a multi-media version of a scrapbook
  • A personalized webpage that can include the weather and time in the country where the child’s parent is deployed, helping them to feel more connected
  • A moderated social networking message board where military kids can interact with each other and share experiences throughout the deployment cycle

MilitaryKidsConnect is the first Defense Department website to connect children to other children in the active-duty, reserve and National Guard military communities. Children are encouraged to share their own ideas, experiences and suggestions with other military children, helping them to know they are not alone in coping with their parent’s deployment. Explore and join MilitaryKidsConnect.

FOCUS World

Adapted from the successful FOCUS: Family Resiliency Training, FOCUS World is an interactive, online educational tool that military families can use to help them become more psychologically resilient as they cope with challenges throughout the deployment cycle. To strengthen family resilience, the FOCUS Project and website helps families learn skills such as emotional regulation, goal setting and communication. FOCUS World offers a variety of educational activities that families can do together, in addition to offering a private place for parents and kids to chat online.

FOCUS World offers families the opportunity to:

  • Post pictures, thoughts and feelings about important life events, which can then been viewed in a family timeline
  • Chat privately in real time
  • Work as team to decide on a goal and break it down into individual steps, adding pictures to illustrate the goal

Register for FOCUS World by visiting the FOCUS Project website.

Additional Resources

Sources

1Military Deployment Guide: Preparing You and Your Family for the Road Ahead,” [PDF 4.33MB]. Defense Department. Updated February 2012.

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