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Military wife helps kids who miss their parents

Written by ryan. Posted in Uncategorized

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Published on March 29, 2011 with No Comments

Kat DeMille knows what it is like to wait for months for dad to come home.

The former Navy brat grew up to become an Air Force officers’ wife, so she does not need to be reminded of the 369,000 Americans who are deployed overseas, many of them leaving behind a spouse and kids, according to U.S. Department of Defense statistics. She has been living that drill most of her life.

“One of the most important things I learned as a kid was that it is okay to feel sad and to miss the ones we love,” DeMille, author of the children’s book “I Wish Daddy Was Here,” said.

“Children take their cues from the adults who surround them, and in military families, there is always this semblance of steely reserve. They don’t want to show sadness around the kids, so all the kids see are the brave faces, and it makes it easy for them to bottle up their sadness or feel that missing their moms or dads is a bad thing. I had to unlearn that misconception, and it actually helped me feel better.”

DeMille believes kids should know that while it is important to move on with their daily lives while a parent is deployed, that it is also okay to miss them and to let their sadness out when they need to. She said that part of the message of her children’s book is that the sadness is a part of coping with the reality of modern troop deployments.

“My husband is currently deployed right now, so my daughter and I are living it along with every other military family,” she added.

“Missing a family member is like the elephant in the room that no one wants to acknowledge. The military life causes many families to endure extended separation. How we deal with the time apart makes a big difference in a child’s life.”

One of the key parts of helping children get through the long absences of a parent who is deployed is to get them to talk about what they are feeling, so they can work through it faster.

DeMille said any job that takes a parent away for an extended period of time is difficult on a child, but letting them express their feelings will help them get through the separation.

“Life does not stop because someone we love is away, but that does not mean we cannot miss them. Emotions can be hard for a child to talk about,” she said.

“Letting your child know that you feel sad, as well, let’s them know it is okay to have feelings and it makes them feel safe to express them to you. It brings them a level of security and makes them feel more mature when they know they are feeling the same thing as the adults around them. More than that, it helps them become stronger and more capable of dealing with the demands of being in a military family.”

DeMille studied hotel and restaurant management in school, and now works with stained glass windows to help pass the time during deployments. She is the proud mother of one daughter, and her family was the basis for the characters in her book. For more information about DeMille or her book, visit www.iwishdaddywashere.com.

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