For soldiers serving on active duty and the families who wait for them at home, there is no day more greatly anticipated than homecoming day.
The reunion is wonderful, and it’s great to have the family together! As life settles back to “normal,” there may be moments when everything doesn’t live up to the high expectations soldiers and their families have about life after deployment. While the soldier was away, life has changed. Tempers may flare and patience runs thin as both children and adults readjust to “togetherness”.
To help every member of the family learn how to live and thrive within that different, post-deployment “normal,” this Welcome Back Parenting guide has been developed by Welcome Back Veterans, a national public awareness initiative to help America’s returning war veterans and their families. This guide is geared for families with one parent who has recently returned from a military deployment. It is designed to help you address some of the fundamental issues faced by families like yours, and includes information about partner relationships, parenting, and the different stages of child and family development from pregnancy through raising teenagers.
The guide also includes a resource section filled with recommended books and websites that you may find helpful, and a referral section containing community referrals you and your family may wish to access along the way. Save this guide. You may not need to read it cover-to-cover right away, but it could become a valued resource for you in the days to come. The information is here for you when you need it.
A note about “normal”
Throughout this guide, you will find references to “typical development” in children and “common post-deployment reactions.” This information describes what is generally expected for children and families. Of course, not all children progress at the same rate of development or have the same reaction to a parent’s return from deployment.
It’s normal to wonder what’s “normal” and what’s not.
The fact is, every family charts their own course to their own definition of “normal.” The examples provided here are simply guideposts that may help signal when a behavior or issue requires further attention or could be improved.
One thing is for sure: it is very normal for families to face some challenges when adjusting to life postdeployment. These challenges are different for the returning parent and for the parent who was not deployed. These challenges are also different for children. But for children and parents, there are strategies that can help reconnect the family. That’s the purpose of this guide.