There are challenges throughout a military deployment—from the call to duty through the months of separation. However, it’s important to recognize one of the greatest challenges of deployment: adjusting to being a family together again after homecoming.
- Roles and people have changed.
- Expect some fatigue from added responsibilities at home, from the deployment, and from heightened emotions.
- Parenting and decision-making relationships may be strained—children will test your limits.
- You’ll need private time with your spouse to reestablish intimacy.
- Give yourself and your family time. Readjusting will require patience.
For families with new babies or young children, Karen cautions that infants and toddlers may need extra time to get to know the returning parent. Her suggestions for returning service members reintegrating into family life with young children:
- Go slow. Talk softly and often so an infant gets used to your voice. To talk to toddlers, get down at their level.
- Play. If you can get your child to laugh at you, you’ll make a friend sooner.
- Stay nearby while your spouse feeds, dresses, or plays with the baby. The baby will get used to having you there and will eventually be comfortable with you.
- Spend time with your spouse. Children of any age are more comfortable with a parent when they know their parents’ relationship is strong.