When a key figure in our lives suddenly disappears for a long period of time how do we actively acknowledge their “presence,” without their physical presence? Better yet how do we explain to our young children that daddy isn’t gone forever, even if he can’t be there for soccer games, dance recitals, and birthday parties? During my husband’s last deployment I found myself in a unique situation. I was issued the task of loving my children and ENSURING that their daddy loved them too, even though he was thousands of miles away for over a year. Here is how I did it.
- A Lesson On Faith
Whether you are a spiritual family or not, explaining the essence of faith to your children will enable them to perceive a relationship with their missing parent and give them a foundation of confidence in that relationship. As a family we sat down and I explained to my four year old and two year old that life would be a little different because daddy would be really far away for a long time. We looked at a globe and found where we were and where he was. We talked about why he had to leave and most importantly I ensured that they knew that he didn’t leave because he lacked love for them, but rather, he left BECAUSE he loved them, he left to protect them, to protect us.
I explained to them what faith was: the essence of knowing something is real even if we can’t see it. We talked about all the elementary examples: wind, the sun rising, God and lastly we talked about love. I asked my children how they knew I loved them. They replied with answers like: “because you hug us, make us dinner, and keep us safe.” I then asked how they knew their dad loved them. They replied with, “Because he sends us messages (emails) and pictures. And because he calls us.” Immersed in thought my four year old replied, “Because he left to protect us.” She understood.