Military parents and safety

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Military parents and safety

Often times, military children are concerned about the safety of their deployed parents. They might ask really tough questions, like, "Will my mom or my dad die?" It is important to be honest with your child when answering this, but also to remember that they might not need all of the information. You can think about where, developmentally, your child is and what they need from you. Then come up with an answer that you can live with, that you can feel comfortable with. You probably need to really think about this, before you just give an off the cuff answer. Often times, I tell parents, if their child has asked that question, take a break. Tell your child, "That is a really good question. In fact, it's so good that I'm going to have to get back to you on that." Just make sure that you get back to them, otherwise, they will come up with the idea that their question was so bad that their parents couldn't even talk to them about it. When you get back to talking to them, think about what they really want, what do they need? Kids are looking for reassurance. They want to know that they are going to be okay and taken care of. Parents can reassure them that their absent parent is doing everything they can to stay safe. You can even show children the helmet and the boots and all the protective gear that the service member wears when they are deployed. You can also talk to them about, remember all the time that mom or dad were out there on training, and they were learning how to be Marine or a soldier; that was all the time they spent learning how to be really good at what they do, and they are going to be really safe when they are deployed. I think you can add, "If something were to happen, I will always be here for you." Even better than that, I think it's important to increase support for your child. You could say, "I will always be here. Your mom will always be here, but so will your neighbor, Jane, your teacher, Suzy, your uncle, Bob." Let them know that there is more than one person here to catch them if they fall.
ALL PARENTS, Family Life

Watch Catherine Mogil, PsyD's video on Military parents and safety...


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Catherine Mogil, PsyD

Family Trauma Therapist

Dr. Catherine E. Mogil is an assistant clinical professor at the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior in the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles. She is a licensed clinical psychologist and serves as the director of training and intervention development for the Nathanson Family Resilience Center and as the co-director of the Child and Family Trauma Service.

Dr. Mogil is also a consultant for the National Military Family Association's Operation Purple Family Retreats, the Uniformed Services University, and a special military project with the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health. Her recent research focuses on the effects of multiple deployments on military families, including the role of parental functioning on childhood mental health. Working with children of all developmental stages, Dr. Mogil has been involved in several intervention development and translational research projects that examine the efficacy of parent-assisted interventions for infants and toddlers in foster care, school-aged children with developmental disabilities, and adolescents with autism spectrum and other disorders.

Dr. Mogil is certified in parent-child interaction therapy, trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy, and leadership education in neurodevelopmental disabilities. She received her doctorate from Pepperdine University and completed her clinical internship at UCLA. Dr. Mogil also completed a postdoctoral fellowship specializing in the prevention and treatment of child and family traumatic stress at the University of Southern California and Children's Hospital Los Angeles.

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