We’re getting ready for deployment in the Berry home this week. Les is Department of Defense and he’s headed to the Middle East. Deployment is a really tricky thing for some step families. When a biological mom or dad leaves the country, in some states a step child may be forced to change custody to the other parent’s home. Our family did not have such an issue arise when Les has deployed the other times. While we had custody of all four children, our legal paperwork did not leave concerns for custody in case of deployment, I simply continued mothering them all in our home.
In some ways stepfamilies are already used to distance loving. In our family we already have Skype accounts, email, and text messaging as a daily part of the routine so our children can connect to their other parents when they wish to. We have taken the precautions to limit who sees and has access to their accounts, and continually reinforce safety on the internet issues with them. Deployment in today’s technology means that at times dad or mom may be able to get to a computer on base and skype with their family, or use texting to say they are okay from a phone.
I encourage deploying parents to create books on video for their children. (even older ones) and tapes praying over their children for bedtime. Children need to see Mom and Dad and hear their voices. Letters are important and if possible, writing them before they go and leaving them with Mom is important during the first few weeks when a new duty station may mean 16 hour days and no time to write. The mail from the Middle East can take up to three weeks to arrive on a good day! Its so very important for the children to write to mom and dad there too. Pictures, handprints, drawings, and letters help being away from home bearable.
Deployment is hard on families, but we know its important that men and women are willing to protect our country. We’re proud of Les and will count the days until he’s home again!