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Elaine Dumler - - 866.780.0460

Reproducible Articles
Part 3 of 
Reunion Series
"Coming Home:
Reconnection Strategies"
Article Series 
I'm Already Home... Again
I'm Already Home... Again
The Road Home
The Road Home
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Elaine Dumler
6460 W. 98th Court
Westminster, CO 80021
866-780-0460 - phone
303-430-7679 - fax

Parenting is one of the most important jobs you'll ever love! It's tougher when you and your children have been separated for an extended period of time. Here you'll find a few helpful guides to bring you all back together again...with lots of understanding.


You are returning to changed roles with your significant other, and you need to know that your role with your children has changed too. The older a child is, the longer it takes for them to adjust to your return. The younger ones may not truly understand about where you've been and what you've been doing.

  • Don't let your children play "one parent against the other." Be sure you know the behavior that's been subject to discipline in your absence and maintain a united front. It's easy to want to give in to your child's demands because of guilt you felt about being gone.
  • Be realistic about your expectations and spend time with each child individually.
  • Expect age appropriate responses and behavior and engage in age appropriate activities. Keep in mind that not all children will follow the same patterns.
  • Spend time together. One family found a fun and simple way to enjoy time together. "When my wife came home, we went to one new place a day as a family. Some were new businesses, shops, parks, or a place I found while she was gone."
  • Don't be concerned if children show anger toward you at first, or drift off into the background. They may be afraid to totally reconnect for fear that you'll only leave again. 

Single Parents

The challenge, as a single parent who was, up until the deployment, your child's most influential parent, is realizing that someone else took care of your youngster. They had the responsibility and the fun. 

  • Understand that you might feel pangs of jealousy over the bond that your child will have formed with his/her temporary caregiver. That's normal! It's hard knowing that someone else was there for the cuts and scrapes, the baseball games, and the homework.
  • Be grateful that your children had someone who cared for them and include the caregiver in the plans you have for reconnecting. 
  • Whenever you can, keep the caregiver involved in your lives in small ways, so the separation isn't overly traumatic on anyone.
  • Talk with the caregiver and learn all you can about any changes your children have gone through so they won't be a surprise. What were the schedules and the rules?
  • Be open to a new tradition or routine your child experienced while you were gone that can now be a part of your home.
Aside from parenting, I think it's important to recognize that not every returning service person is coming home to a spouse and children...but they are coming home to people who missed them! Is there anything we can do to make the transition easier on everyone?


Welcoming Home the Single Serviceperson

As a single serviceperson, you're seeing lots of changes in your environment as you return. It's becoming quite evident that things around you moved on. People moved, jobs restructured, etc. and you need to become reacquainted with your support system.

  • Communicate. Take time to relate experiences with friends in a more casual setting where they can feel comfortable asking questions. They want to understand how to open their lives up to you again.
  • Get your housing situated as soon as you get back. That helps you to reestablish your roots.
  • Partying with your friends is fine, but watch your alcohol intake and the affect it has on feelings of aggression.
  • Stay in contact with your parents. They worried about you the entire time you were gone and would like to see you occasionally.
  • Take things slow. Adjusting takes time. Don't be lured into making major decisions about your life until the dust has settled - maybe 4 months.

For Family and Friends:

  • Educate yourself on how he/she may have changed so it's not a shock to you. It's nice to know what to expect.
  • Don't be too "intrusive" right away, even though you want things to pick up right where they left off.  Take a "sit and wait" approach and be available when the service member needs or wants to talk.

Parents: Please don't be too disappointed if your son/daughter isn't at your house as often as you'd like them to be. They have many people to connect with and they are testing out their new life back home.


What shines through all the suggestions and ideas we've given you? Patience, Communication, and Observation. Your household, no matter who it involves, is a democracy, and the more people feel their input is being considered, the easier it is to find common ground. You're going to do just fine. Let the pieces of your life come together like a jigsaw puzzle. In the end, you'll like the picture it makes.

I invite you to reprint this and share it wherever you think it will be useful. Please follow these guidelines for reprinting this article: 
  • The article must not be rewritten. You may edit for length only.
  • The article must include this permission/bio at the end: Article written by Elaine Dumler and reprinted from her newsletter with permission.
  • For military family books and information on briefings, visit or email