Parents and children benefit from forging strong connections with each other, but military families can face unique challenges in building and maintaining these relationships. Deployments, permanent change of station (PCS) moves, school transitions, and dealing with separation or divorce can all affect the bonds military parents have with their kids. 

STRATEGIES FOR BUILDING STRONG CONNECTIONS

  1. Build nurturing routines into a child’s day. This may include playtime or storytime, having meals together, or establishing bedtime routines. 
  2. During periods of absence, find ways to be present in your child’s life. Record story time with an absent parent’s voice, make video calls and share family pictures to help a parent and child stay connected. 
  3. Try to anticipate your child’s needs and respond appropriately. Young children may not have the words to communicate their feelings, so they express them through their behavior. When a child is scared, worried, or lonely, find ways to offer reassurance and support. This may include extra cuddle time or one-on-one time.
  4. For families parenting multiple children, create opportunities to bond with each child individually. One child may enjoy helping a parent prepare dinner, while another child may enjoy arts and crafts. 
  5. Find time to do something fun with your child. Even if you only have a few minutes, make those minutes count. 

Whether you are a first-time parent with many questions, adjusting to parenting two children, or have a feisty toddler who demands independence, building up your parenting skills to build those strong connections doesn’t have to be difficult. Reach out to your local New Parent Support Program (NPSP) for assistance. NPSP has staff members able to help in various areas, including understanding child development, promoting nurturing and attachment, increasing positive parenting skills, promoting social connections, and ensuring that families know where they can go for assistance. All of these can be used to build strong relationships that will withstand the various challenges of being a military family.