This Military Life | Tips and Tricks for Helping Kids Cope with Deployments and Moves

month of the military child

April is the month of the military child. In order to celebrate, I would like to feature one such child.

Grace Anne Remey is the daughter of the Bob and Lisa Remey, an Air Force family we have the pleasure and honor of knowing. This Military Life has interesting and unique ways of bringing people together. Our families met the day the Remey’s moved into the home we own in the Southwest. They were the first family to live in it {Literally!}. We came to love and appreciate them for taking such good care of our “one-day-retirement-home”. The Remey’s have continued to positively impact our lives through their example of raising two outstanding children, their strong Christian faith, and modeling for many the resilience required to not just survive, but thrive in this military life.

Their youngest, Grace Anne, has written two books for military children to address feelings associated with deployment and frequent moves (link here for more information). Lisa, her mom, has tirelessly campaigned to spread the message and support her daughter’s efforts to help other military children cope with the unique stresses this military life has on our kids.

I am featuring them both today in honor of the Month of the Military Child. Here is Lisa in her own words.


The effects of a being a military family trickles right on down to our military kiddos. Which may bring us to ask, “As parents, how do we raise our military kids to have a secure and stable life amidst the roller coaster and ever changing military life?” In my experience, it is not easy. However, with thoughtful planning on behalf of our already amazing kiddos, it can be done.

This Military Life ingrains in our children such strengths as: The instant ability to adjust to new communities and schools. The capability to find the courage to try new things. The fluidity to adapt to major shifts in their home life such as a deploying parent. Undeniable resiliency is a byproduct of their day to day living.

As for me, I didn’t grow up in a military household and life stayed pretty much the same. I only learned to be outgoing and deal with constant change along the way after first loving and then marrying my military man. I quickly figured out that if I was going to find happiness in this new life of mine, it was crucial that I learn to dive right in and try new things. Honestly, this is the exact opposite of the non-military spouse in me.

Our kids, on the other hand, automatically learn these attributes from day one! Sure, they may hem and haw about it but these are great strengths to have throughout all stages of life, military or not. Adding to this, you may wonder….“But what about stability?” Well believe it or not, we have that too!

Kids need stability to thrive and to feel safe and secure. One way of gaining this strong sense of comfort and stability is by creating routines and traditions. Knowing what happens next gives them a sense of security and emotional stability. Predictable family routines bring a welcomed relief from changes they are experiencing, such as deployments and moves.

This is exactly how our family copes with this exciting yet challenging military lifestyle of ours. We build traditions around it. Not to say things are always smooth or that these traditions prevent the variety of feelings that go with change however, it does help us cope.

Our daughter, Grace Anne Remey, age 10, has written and illustrated two children’s books (her first at age 8) about a lion family in which she shares not only the feelings she experienced during moves and deployments but also our traditions that helped her. She shares this through a fun story as you journey alongside a lion family.

Lion's Pride deployment

 

Lion's Pride moving

After seven deployments, the kids know exactly what to expect in their daily routines during a given deployment. One daily tradition is getting a “kiss” from Daddy every day. A Hersey’s kiss that is. Eating one daily out of their own Daddy Kisses Jar not only is a special treat but also serves as a way to visually see a time frame of how long the deployed parent will be away. Using the kisses jar during TDY (Temporary Duty) and long weekends away at work also helps kids understand various time frames of absence.

remey daddy kisses jar final

Another favorite when the kids were much younger, is books on DVD so that the deployed parent can still be a part of story time. Our kids loved to follow along in their favorite board book or children’s short story and I enjoyed having the little break while hearing my hubby’s voice during his story time with the kiddos.

Another tradition is the Tag-Along-Toy, which is a fun way to help kids connect with the deployed parent’s new location. A tag-along-toy is a special toy the kiddos send with their parent on deployment. The deployed parent then takes photos of the toy doing different activities such as eating, working, watching TV, etc. This helps to give kids a visual of what their deployed parent’s life is like from day to day. This fun activity is similar to a Flat Stanley. Use it to play hide-and-seek too! Just like ‘where’s Waldo’ the tag-along-toy has to be searched for in various photos and locations, such as hidden in the snack area. 

remey tag along pal final

Moving is also a stressful and exciting time in which more traditions can be built. We enjoy sharing the exciting news with the kids in different fun ways such as a wrapped book or toy to disclose the new location. Recently as our kids anticipated news of our next move, we were going out to dinner for Mexican food and they really thought it was to share the next move location. They just knew we would be moving to Mexico. Very funny and not our PCS location (Permanent Change of Station), but funny. Ok, so they were onto us, there was no German restaurant in Tucson and we did have German chocolate cake planned for dessert. Guess we, I, can sometimes get carried away with my plans as shown from their expectation.

Another helpful tradition enables our kiddos to engage in the packing process. Each child is given their own set of stickers and crayons to decorate  their own boxes. Grace Anne says this is her favorite! Getting kids involved in the process allows some ownership and control as well as enabling them to quickly identify their own boxes as they are taken off the truck in your new location. Seeing their face when ‘their’ boxes arrive is priceless. 

remey kids mark their boxes final

To find out more how our family copes with changes brought about from moving and deployments be sure to follow us at www.lionspridemilitary.com. Her first book, Lion’s Pride: A Tail of Deployment, is a Bronze Medal Award winner from Military Writers Society of America. She wrote and illustrated this book at age 8 after her Dad’s 7th deployment. Lion’s Pride On the Move is her most recent story where she shares her feelings and experiences about moving. We hope you enjoy them and make some new family traditions of your own!

remey lisa photo finalLisa Remey is a Licensed Professional Counselor and Registered Play Therapist. Her work experiences over a span of two decades have ranged from using play therapy as a school counselor, in private practice setting, creating a program for disaster counseling in schools through FEMA as well as time as a social worker. Lisa’s primary role for the past 19 years has been as a military spouse and helping her family cope with 7 deployments, many moves as well as supporting military families. In addition, she is a contributing author and publisher of Lion’s Pride: A Tail of Deployment, Bronze Medal winner from Military Writers Society of America, and Lion’s Pride On the Move.

 


Military Children can and will change the world! They are truly amazing. I look at my boys everyday and marvel at their strength, courage, and perseverance. I hope you have enjoyed learning about Lisa and Grace Ann Remey’s story. Please consider supporting them and their efforts to encourage and empower military families by visiting their website (www.lionspridemilitary.com) and purchasing one (or both) of Grace Anne’s books.

Cheers to This Military Life!

Jana

 

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