Honoring Servicekids on Fathers Day

By: Elizabeth Maxwell

Special honor is due to those men who serve their country and spend months at a time away from their families in order to defend our right to freedom. When Father's Day comes and they can't be home with their kids, it's difficult for those dads!But what about the kids they leave behind? They're missing out on precious time with their dads, and they should be recognized, too!

If you're a mom or a guardian of a child or children whose dad is overseas, there are a few things you can do to make Father's Day a less difficult day day for the kids, even if they can't talk to Dad.

Talk to teachers, coaches and leaders
About a month before Father's Day, talk to people. Talk to teachers, scout leaders, soccer coaches . . . anyone in your child's life who might be planning a Father's Day celebration or commemoration - and make sure the leaders in your child's life understand that your child has a special circumstance concerning Father's Day.

What leaders can do
You might suggest that the teacher make Father's Day crafts well in advance so you can add your child's special creation to the Father's Day care package you want to send overseas. Make sure the teacher knows that care package has to be sent at least three weeks in advance. You can also hint to the soccer coach that the planned father/child soccer match will be a bust, unless your child can hold a place of honor like referee or scorekeeper.

Special honors
You can also ask any leader if he or she can say a few words during a Father's Day celebration that will honor your child for the time he or she has had to give up with Dad over the months while he's been away. Getting some well-deserved recognition from people your child respects - not to mention from peers - will go a long way to making him or her feel better about the day. Instead of focusing on the fact that Dad's not there to share the experience, you'll find that your child is too busy playing hero to be sad.

Let your child take the lead
The care package was mailed three weeks ago and all the community Father's Day honors are past. But Father's Day hasn't actually taken place yet. How can you help your child celebrate Dad when Dad's not present? First, ask your child what he or she would like to do on Father's Day. Some kids might like to spend the day doing what Dad would have liked to do, and other will want to do anything but. You can't know how your child will react unless you ask them first.

Distractions
The kids who want nothing to do with the activities they might have shared with Dad will need some pretty strong distractions to keep them from slipping into the doldrums. Luckily, June is a great month for day trips and outdoor excursions. Try planning a trip to the science museum or to the zoo - something that is totally kid-centric and will help you have fun with your child. If a daytrip is out of the budget, plan to serve your child's favorite meal after an afternoon of Frisbee, movies, or baseball.

It may seem a little indulgent to honor your child on Father's Day, but the most important thing you can do is to respect and honor his or her feelings and the incredible strength shown every day while Dad's away.

Fatherhood
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