As with any challenge, the better your communication, the better your results. Challenges are great opportunities to connect and to talk it out. More importantly, keeping communication open will reassure kids that you are there for them, remind them that it’s good to ask questions, and allow them to share whatever is on their mind, including their worries. So put your devices down and make time for talking–and for listening.
Children will likely have lots of questions, and you’ll want to provide simple, concrete, honest, and age-appropriate answers. Here are some ways you might respond to their concerns:
- Why is Mom/Dad no longer in a uniform? She/he wore a special uniform for her/his job in the military. Mom/Dad doesn’t work in the military anymore, so uniforms aren’t needed.
- Why do I have to move/change schools? We are moving because… [Mom/Dad has a new job; or, we’re going to be closer to your grandparents; or, we can’t live on the base anymore; or, we’re ready for adventure; and so on]. Our new home will be too far away to continue going to the same school.
- Who will take care of me? You will always be cared for; there’s nothing to worry about. Some things may change–for instance, Daddy may be putting you to bed now instead of Mommy. But we’ll work it out to make sure the whole family is okay. We’re a team, and we’ll handle these changes together.
- When is Mom/Dad getting a job? We don’t know. Sometimes it takes a while for grown-ups to find a new job; other times, it may happen quickly. But Mom/Dad learned a lot of important things in the military, and that will help them in the new job.
- Where can I play? And who can I play with? When we get to our new home, we’ll explore the neighborhood together and maybe even visit the playground at your new school. You’ve made new friends before, and you will again, because you’re an amazing friend. [Here you can specify some of your child’s strengths, like sharing, or being funny, or awesome at soccer.]
- Will everything be different now? Some things may stay the same–we can still have Saturday night dinner in pjs, for example–though other things will change. But that’s okay; change is how we grow.
And here are some good dinnertime conversation starters:
- What was the best part of your day?
- What was the most challenging part of your day?
- What was one new thing you saw, did, or learned about today?
- What is one thing today you were grateful for?
- What is one wish you have for tomorrow?