Reconnecting with your Spouse/Significant Other
• GO SLOW! It takes time to reconnect. Be patient and be flexible.
• LISTEN, LEARN AND LET GO! Listen to your partner’s experience. Learn how they’ve been doing life while you were gone. Let go of your expectations for how they should have behaved while you were gone and accept the person they are.
• TIME, TIME, TIME! Make your partner your priority. Time spent w/them is an investment in your future.
• LEARN THE NEW ROUTINE. Your partner has developed a way of life while you were gone. Learn their routine and adapt to that routine.
• CELEBRATE! Your partner ran a tough marathon of stress, anxiety and loneliness while you were gone. They managed and succeeded with a lot of responsibiltiy. Celebrate their victories and let them know you are proud of them.
• ANTICIPATE YOUR PARTNER'S/FAMILY'S NEEDS. Your family may want to celebrate your return and want to reconnect you with your relatives and their friends. This may be overwhelming for you. Make your family/significant other aware of what you are comfortable with and ‘negotiate’ with them on their intentions for you.
• FIGHT FAIRLY AND RESOLVE CONFLICT! Yes, it won’t be long and you will have disagreements. That is normal. Work the conflict through to a healthy resolution. Get help if you can’t resolve the conflict.
• SHARE WITH THEM WHAT IS APPROPRIATE. Do not shut your family/significant other out of your life. Share what you can with them about your deployment. Let them know when you are not comfortable talking about certain experiences.
• ATTEND A MARRIAGE/RELATIONSHIP WORKSHOP OR COUNSELING. The Military and Family Life Consultant provides free, confidential counseling at the Airman & Family Readiness Center. Additionally, the base Chaplains also provide counseling with privileged communication.
• TAKE ADVANTAGE OF FREE CHILD CARE if you have kids. The Returning Home Care program provides 16 hours of care per child to military members returning from a deployment of 30 days or more. For more information, please contact the Family Child Care Program at 634-5655
Reconnecting with your Children
• LEARN ALL YOU CAN ABOUT YOUR CHILD’S LIFE WHILE YOU WERE GONE. Let them share pictures, crafts, stories and memories.
• BE PATIENT W/YOUR CHILD AND YOURSELF. You can’t make up the time missed, overnight. It will take time for your child to reconnect w/you, trust you and rebond to you. Frustration, as a parent, is normal. Violence and verbal abuse is never acceptable.
• NEGOTIATE YOUR ROLE AS A PARENT. While you were gone your spouce or your child's guardian set the pace as a parent. You can't take over all at once. Work your way back into the parent role...a step at a time. Respect what was done while you were gone.
• REMEMBER THIS IS A CHILD, NOT AN AIRMAN! Learn the developmental stage your child is in and use age-appropriate parenting techniques. ‘One size doesn’t fit all.” Your child is unique, so parent uniquely.
• DO ACCEPT GUIDANCE FROM YOUR SPOUSE OR YOUR CHILD’S GUARDIAN. You’ve been Soldiering for a long time. You need some retraining. Listen to the person with the most experience with your child.
• TAKE A PARENTING CLASS W/YOUR CHILD. You learned to become a warrior..you can learn how to be a better parent. Your local school district will have information on parenting classes. Sign up and invest in your child’s welfare.
Reconnecting with your Parents/Extended family
• BE PATIENT W/YOUR PARENTS. They want to reconnect with you, but may not know how.
• NEGOTIATE NEW ROLES/RESPONSIBILITIES. Your parents may want you to be the way you were before you left. That isn’t possible. Let them know, up front and patiently, the new relationship you want to have with them. Help them define new boundaries and new ways to relate to you.
• SHARE WITH THEM WHAT IS APPROPRIATE. Do not shut your parents out of your life. Share what you can with them about your deployment. Let them know your plans and your whereabouts.
• IF YOU HAVE YOUNGER SIBLINGS…. Be respectful of your parents rules for them and be aware that you are a role model, whether you want to be or not, for your siblings. Remember…your military ‘language’ may not be appropriate for your siblings….
• CELEBRATE. Realize your parents sacrificed a lot while you were gone. They worried about you and supported you. Celebrate their accomplishments and thank them for their support.
• ANTICIPATE. That your parents may want to celebrate your return and want to reconnect you with your relatives and their friends. This may be overwhelming for you. Make your parents aware of what you are comfortable with and ‘negotiate’ with them on their intentions for you.