RECONNECTING AS A FAMILY James McAuley, MA LAMFT Rebekah Miller, MA
INTRODUCTIONIntroductionsPresentation Overview Pre-Deployment Preparation Staying Connected During Deployment Reconnecting with FamilyWho’s in the Audience
IMPACT OF DEPLOYMENTON FAMILIES Pre-Deployment Increased stress on family and individuals Emotional and behavioral withdrawalDeployment Systemic change and changes in roles Increased stress Communication issues Emotional and behavioral problemsRe-deployment Systemic change and changes in roles Expectations – met and unmet New stressors
CHALLENGES FOR ALLMILITARY FAMILIES Plan and prepare for deployment Handle stress of separation and long deployments Take care of health and well-being Know of and access services when needed Cope with children’s reactions to deployment Manage family finances (in some cases, income change) Carry out new family roles and responsibilities Cope with transition period once member returns
RESILIENCE INMILITARY FAMILIESActive coping stylesFamily Readiness for deploymentStrong community supportAbility to adopt gender rolesOptimismAcceptance of military lifestyle
UNSUCCESSFULMILITARY FAMILIESHabit 1: You say, “I can’t do it.”Habit 2: You don’t know what’s important in your life.Habit 3: You spend time doing what is not good for you.Habit 4: You think if someone wins, someone always has tolose in relationships.Habit 5: You talk first and listen second.Habit 6: You do not work with others.Habit 7: You do not take care of yourself or your family. Franklin Covey 2007
SUCCESSFULMILITARY FAMILIESHabit 1: You’re proactive. You say, “I can do it.”Habit 2: You identify and prioritize family values.Habit 3: You put first things first. You do what’s best for youand your family first.Habit 4: You think win-win. You think everyone can win inyour relationships.Habit 5: You seek first to understand, then to be understood.You listen first and talk second.Habit 6: You synergize. You celebrate differences and worktogether as a team.Habit 7: You sharpen the saw. You make time to care foryourself and your family. Franklin Covey 2007
PRE-DEPLOYMENTPREPARATIONFamily Time Navigate temptation to become distant from family members Plan weekly times with each family members and possibly a special family trip Acknowledge your grief, but enjoy the time together Other ideas?
PRE-DEPLOYMENTPREPARATIONIdentifying & Mobilizing Resources Military Family Care Initiative: www.militaryfamilies.state.mn.us/ Daycare & Other childcare providers Proactively enlist help from teachers and childcare providers. Connect with other military families Other ideas?
PRE-DEPLOYMENTPREPARATIONEarly plans for deployment connection Write cards for holidays and “down days” Make picture book Discuss ways to stay connected: USB drive, skype, phone, journaling, letters, Have realistic expectations about communication plans Deployment wish list for service member Other ideas?
PRE-DEPLOYMENTPREPARATIONSelf-Care and Physical & Mental Health Commitment Non-deployed parent/caregiver: Needs time off Non-deployed parent’s mental health symptoms correlate with their children’s symptom severity. Preventative: Seek professional help to work through difficulties with children or relationship prior to the separation Other ideas?
STAYING CONNECTED DURINGDEPLOYMENT - PRE-SCHOOLERSVideo ClipTalk with your children at there levelUse your family like a securityblanket for your children: Wrapthem up in family closenessLimit the amount of news yourchildren watchMap out a routine and stick to itMake sure you take care of yourself
STAYING CONNECTED DURINGDEPLOYMENT - PRE-SCHOOLERSUse play to help your children express their fears about whatis happeningTell your children that they will be alrightWatch your children for signs of mental health concernsEnlist your childrens helpPut things into a “+” perspective for your children
STAYING CONNECTED DURINGDEPLOYMENT - ELEMENTARYTalk with your childMake home a safe place emotionally for your childLimit the news they watchRealize the stresses of war may heighten daily stressesMap out a routine and stick to it
STAYING CONNECTED DURINGDEPLOYMENT - ELEMENTARYMake sure you take care ofyourselfTell your children that they willbe alrightWatch your children for signs ofmental health concernsEnlist your childrens helpPut things into a “+” perspectivefor your children
STAYING CONNECTED DURINGDEPLOYMENT - ADOLESCENTS Talk with your child whenever you can Make your home a safe place for your child Limit the amount of news Realize the stresses of war heighten daily stresses Map out a routine and stick to it
STAYING CONNECTED DURINGDEPLOYMENT - ADOLESCENTSMake sure you take care ofyourselfTell your children that they willbe alrightWatch your child for signs ofmental health concernsEnlist your child’s help with achore or an opinion on a familyactivityPut things into a “+” perspective
STAYING CONNECTED DURINGDEPLOYMENT - ADOLESCENTS Talk with your teen whenever you can, even if it seems he or she doesn’t want to talk to you Make your home a safe place emotionally for your teen Encourage your teen to take “news breaks” Realize that the stresses of war heighten daily stresses Make a routine and stick to it
STAYING CONNECTED DURINGDEPLOYMENT - ADOLESCENTSAnswer questions honestly and dispelrumorsGive age-appropriate explanationsWatch your teen for signs of fear andanxiety that he/she may not be able toverbalizeEnlist your child’s help, whether it’s achore or an opinion about a family activityHelp your teenager find ways to handlestress
STAYING CONNECTED DURINGDEPLOYMENT - PARTNERWhat will work for yourfamily?Two ExamplesLetters/PackagesHolidays?EmailsPhone/SkypeVideoOther ideas?
REUNITING WITH YOUR CHILDREN The Dream
REUNITING WITHYOUR CHILDRENInfants: Cry, fuss, pull away from you, cling to your spouse or the caregiverthey know. Talk to them while holding, hugging, bathing, changing, feeding,playing, and relaxing with them.Toddlers: Be shy, clingy, not recognize you, cry, have temper tantrums,return to behaviors they had outgrown (no longer toilet trained). Give themspace and warm- up time. Be gentle and fun. Sit on floor at their level andplay with them.Preschoolers: Feel guilty for making you go away, need time to warm-up toyou, intense anger, act out to get attention, be demanding. Reinforce thatthey are loved unconditionally, listen carefully, accept their feelings, findout new things they are interested in, play with them, control attention-getting behavior.
REUNITING WITHYOUR CHILDRENSchool Age: Excitement, joy, talk constantly to bring you up todate, boast about you, guilt about not doing enough or beinggood enough. Review pictures, school work, family scrapbook,praise for what they did during your deployment, do not criticize.Teenagers: Excitement, guilt about not living up to standards,concern about rules and responsibilities, feel too old or unwillingto change plans to meet you or spend extended time with youupon your return. Share what’s happened during deployment,encourage them to share, do chores together, listen, respectprivacy and friends, don’t be judgmental.
RECONNECTING WITHYOUR PARTNERIt is normal to be nervousTake it slowPlan a retreat/getaway togetherRemember what you like about eachotherShare joys and hardships experiencedduring the deploymentSeek professional support if necessary
RECONNECTING WITHFAMILYAllow at their own paceHelp provide structureAttend social functionsUse family & community resourcesFeeling a “Part” after being apartGo Slow
RECONNECTING AS AFAMILYDiscover the new family strengthsDon’t leave disagreements unresolvedDefine the new normAsk family about what happenedduring deploymentAsk children to show you whatyou missedAsk what their favorites are?Show an interest
SPECIALIZING IN SERVING MILITARY FAMILIESTO EVERY VETERAN & MILITARY FAMILY:THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE. James McAuley, MA LAMFT Claddagh Counseling Airforce Veteran Web: www.claddaghcounseling.com Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Phone: 320-223-0015 Rebekah Miller, MA Wellness Counseling Services (WCS) Army Veteran Web: www.wellnesscounselingmn.com Email: Rmiller@wellnesscounselingmn.com Phone: 651-399-6920