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Staying Connected to an Absent Parent: Creating a Memory Box

Staying connected to the absent parent through regular communication can help ease the pain and anxiety of separation for children. Letters, e-mails, photos, phone calls, video chat, cards, and drawings are all great ways to help your children stay connected. However, communication with the deployed parent may be limited. For that reason, it is important to connect with children frequently to reduce stress and anxiety. Talk with them about their feelings, read books with them, and engage in activities such as sports or arts and crafts. As a parent, you also can help your child maintain a strong bond with the deployed parent by keeping a memory box of activities that take place while he or she is away and using the letters, calls, and other communication methods listed above.

The Memory Box

To help your child reminisce about time spent with the absent parent, talk about each of the items on the I Remember handout. Then, using arts and craft supplies (e.g., crayons, markers, construction paper, old magazines, stickers), place symbols and descriptions of those memories, and other chosen objects, in a small box labeled “_________ (Insert your child’s name) Memory Box.” As your child communicates with his or her absent parent and has new experiences, add new items to the box. The memory box can also include items that your child worked on in school, such as arts and craft projects.
Remember to have your child share the memory box with the deployed parent when he or she returns home. This will be an excellent way for your child to reconnect with the returning parent and share activities that he or she may have missed while away.

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Updated on 3/22/2014