I spent last weekend playing Auntie to my niece and nephew. I adore them and, generally, I think I have a pretty good handle on what’s going on with them – if they’re tired or whatever – but sometimes, when I haven’t seen them in awhile, I get thrown off. I remember how they were the last time I saw them and it takes a bit to adjust to the changes, in their likes, in their behavior, in their personality, that have occurred since the last time I saw them. When I talk to my sister about it, she’s generally like: “Oh, yeah, he’s been doing that for awhile” or “Oh, again? I thought I handled that.” It can sometimes leave me feeling left out or feeling stupid for not having known something I couldn’t possibly have known or realizing I let them get away with something that she wouldn’t have. I can imagine that those are some of the same kinds of feelings parents coming back from deployment must feel. Only, for them, it’s worse. Because it’s their kid. Which is why the resources we’re talking about this week come in handy.
Today’s resource was created through a joint effort between the Department of Veterans Affairs Mental Health Services and the Department of Defense Center for Telehealth and Technology. PARENTING for Servicemembers and Veterans is a free online course for parents who will soon return or have returned from a deployment or even those who may have come back years ago. The course consists of six modules:
- Module 1: Back in the Family
- Module 2: Promoting Positive Parent-Child Communications
- Module 3: Helping Your Child With Different Emotions and Behaviors
- Module 4: Positive Approach to Discipline
- Module 5: Managing Stress and Emotion as a Parent
- Module 6: Parenting with Emotional and Physical Challenges
Each module has about 20-odd slides of interactive materials – printable tip sheets, audio, video files, and mini quizzes – and you can pick and choose with modules you would like to do or in which order. Many of the slides contain lists which are labelled by age group, so that you can choose the category most applicable to your child(ren).
While you may not agree with everything in the course (I know everyone has an opinion on spanking, for example), the basics look like good guidelines. I thought some of the videos were the most useful part as they are interviews with veterans and their families and they aren’t sterilized, cookie cutter videos. Instead, they are candid interviews with real families discussing how deployment impacted them (for several of the kids, even years later you can still see how much it stressed them out) and how they coped or are coping.
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