Happy Father’s Day to all military fathers! We know it’s not always an easy job and military families face unique challenges. Moves, deployment, reintegration and job stress may all affect a parent’s ability to adapt, adjust, manage challenges and maintain strong relationships with their children.

VA, in conjunction with the Department of Defense, created “Parenting for Service Members and Veterans,” a free online resource specifically devoted to helping military parents and their spouses reconnect with their children and strengthen their families upon returning from deployment.

The transition back to civilian life is a challenge in itself for individuals and spouses, but there can be additional obstacles faced by military parents. Children may not be used to listening to and being disciplined by returning parents or younger children might not even recognize them. Parenting is not a typical online training course – it is interactive, multidimensional and features real-life stories from families who have faced similar challenges.

Each of the six modules within the course addresses a different challenge parents may face and also works through personal issues and situations that might hinder parenting such as job stress, switching gears between home and work and understanding personal emotions. The training also discusses the specific feelings that each age group of children could experience and the varying emotions to expect from toddlers through teenagers. It provides tip sheets with helpful tips and tools that can be used in day-to-day life.

The six modules in Parenting for Service Members and Veterans are:

  • Back into the family
  • Promoting positive parent-child communication
  • Helping your child with difficult emotions and behaviors
  • Positive approach to discipline
  • Managing stress and emotions as a parent
  • Parenting with emotional and physical challenges

Since the course is available online, it can be taken in the privacy of home and at the pace of the individual’s choosing. The course does not have to be taken at once. Individuals can pick and choose which modules are most applicable to their family or take the course over time as situations arise. Parenting does not require any log-in information and is completely confidential.

There is also an app, Parenting2Go, which gives parents tools and exercises they can use on-the-go to get help whenever, wherever. Parenting2Go is free and can be used alone or with the more comprehensive online course. It can be downloaded from the VA App Store at https://mobile.va.gov/appstore/all. For additional insight and information on how to navigate the challenges of military parenthood, visit www.VeteranTraining.va.gov/Parenting and select “Start the Course.”

Dr. Carolyn Greene, serves as the National Program Manager for the VA’s Mental Health Services, responsible for advancing Veteran care through the development of online self-help resources, courses and tools for individuals suffering from mental health issues associated with the military lifestyle.

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Published on Jun. 19, 2015

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