Helping Children Cope While One Parent Is Away

May 23, 2009

My husband has a job which requires many late hours and days away from home. And as my children grow older, they are starting to miss him more regularly when he is gone. I know I am not alone, and along with many other parents, I must help my children understand why one parent is away. Here are some suggestions to help your children cope with their parent's absence and help them look forward to their return. 

Call me. Whenever my children miss my husband, they are allowed to call him. Anytime. And even if they leave a voicemail, it makes them feel better to hear his voice and connect with him somehow.

So Skyped. If both parents are able to set up Skype or some sort of video conferencing for your children, the traveling parent will seem much less further away. I highly recommend setting this up if you can.

Email pictures. If you can't connect via video, sending pictures back and forth through email or phone texts will work well too to maintain a daily connection.

Calendar count down. For your older children, pull out the calendar and mark the day the other parent returns. Then they can take turns crossing off each day as their return draws closer.

Map it. Another helpful way to explain their parent's disappearance to your older children is showing them on the map where their parent actually is. Google pictures of the area and use Google maps to show actual pictures of their hotel and/or location.

Special item. While a parent is away, sometimes offering your child a special item to hold on to until they return can help. That could be wearing their dad's t-shirt to bed or sleeping with their mom's pillow. That way they have something special to keep them company while they are away.

Welcome home. If my husband has been away for awhile, we pull out construction paper and markers and make welcome home signs. We put them up around the house to anticipate his arrival. They get very excited and love to show their decorations off upon his return.

From the Parents

  • Parent # 1

    We make my son feel like a big boy who has to help out because dad/mom are away. If mommy is gone he has to help keep everything clean. He runs around yelling at my husband and live in nephew when they leave something where it doesnt belong. If daddy is away He has to watch daddys racing or foot ball games so he can tell daddy what happened.

    over a year ago

  • Parent # 2

    Moms travel, too. Important to use more than one Dad example--please!

    over a year ago


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