by Jennifer Garbow
Longing, separation, and anxiety are all “big feelings” military children experience when their families are called to a new duty location. The Home is Where your Heart Is webinar held April 19, 2019 was the third of five webinars in the Kids Serve Too! series sponsored by Military Families Learning Network (MFLN). Sesame Street for Military Families (SS4MF) again provided amazing information and resources for military family service providers to share with military families. The resources allow parents to help their children understand the many emotions and feelings they will experience during a big move, Including hands-on learning activities such as printables, worksheets and interactive games. In addition, parents can access videos to watch with their children that feature Sesame Street characters reenacting real-life scenarios such as, separation and being anxious of the unknown.
As a mother, I understand how scary a move can be for children. I moved four times across three states in two years when my oldest sons were young! Their questions were so earnest, “What will our bedroom look like? Can we take our toy? Will we ever see our friends again? What if I don’t like the new place?” As a young Mom at the time, I did my best to alleviate their worries, reassuring them that we would be okay and that they will carry all of the places we had been in their hearts and minds — they won’t just disappear! And most importantly, I listened to my children as they tried their best to express their emotions.
I encourage you to visit the MFLN Kids Serve Too! webinar series page to view the archived webinar Home is Where Your Heart Is. In addition, check out the first archived two webinars (Sesame Street Overview on Military Resources and Safe & Sound: Caring in Our Community) and plan to participate in the remaining two webinars – At Our Best: Caregiving Today (July 10) and Engaged & Extraordinary: Supporting Young Children with Special Needs (November 14).
I wish these wonderful resources had been available when I was moving with my young children. I would have had the boys decorate their moving boxes and I would have printed the moving cards so they could have given them to their friends. Small but meaningful opportunities for children to engage in their family’s big move helps them feel safe and secure knowing that everything is going to be okay.
Jennifer Garbow has been an educator and associate professor in Family Resiliency for eleven years with the University of Minnesota’s Extension Center for Family Development. Her primary role is to provide financial literacy education to families and communities, with special expertise in working with American Indian clients. Jennifer is on the MFLN Family Transitions team.