Air Force Dads

So, how do I handle this one? I got a shirt for my 3 year-old son with a fighter jet on the front. When he was putting it on for the first time I said something about how the plane on the front is like the planes his big brother, Wesley, might be working with. He questioned this, so I explained that this summer, Wes would be going away to the Air Force and learning to work with really cool airplanes. Harry (the 3 year old) looked up at me with tears in his eyes and said, "Wesley's leaving me?" Harry idolizes his big brother, but is too young to really understand. How am I going to help him through this, while I am struggling myself?

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Be honest. Explain it like he's a 3 year old.
Lesa, Jane, my wife is a teachers aid and she works with pre-K children. She is going to ask the teacher she works with about your question and she will get back with you. This is a difficult time for every member of the family including Wesley. I have always said that when a member of a family joins the military the whole family joins. Hang in there.
Sgt Terry
You know, kids respond to honesty so well.

Sunlitgoldpony said:
Be honest. Explain it like he's a 3 year old.
Thanks, Sgt. Terry, I appreciate your support.

Sgt Terry (Network Creator) said:
Lesa, Jane, my wife is a teachers aid and she works with pre-K children. She is going to ask the teacher she works with about your question and she will get back with you. This is a difficult time for every member of the family including Wesley. I have always said that when a member of a family joins the military the whole family joins. Hang in there.
Sgt Terry
Lesa, so far Jane’s teacher said to explain that we grow up and when we are grown we have to go to work. Sometimes work is close by and sometimes it is far away. As Sunlitgoldpony said you must be as honest with him as you can be.

Jane’s teacher is giving some more thought because I sprung it on her and she didn’t have a lot of time to think so she will get back with us on that.

I am thinking that if you included him in on some of the planning and get him to thinking about going to the graduation and what Wesley will be doing. Pictures and things like that may help. Definitely keep it on his level. I think the t-shirt was a great idea to help bring him into it. Anything else like that may of help as well. He needs to understand that Wesley is not going away forever even though life will change for him. Trust me I cried when my boys left and I am an old guy. It is hard no matter what age you are, and that is okay.
Sgt Terry
Many 3 year olds (as you may know) are vacuums for imformation. I think the visual images of actually seeing the planes, uniforms and even some things he could actually put his hands, like a toy airplane, would help the most. Is there a AFB near you? If so, take him to a yearly Airfest that they might have. Like MacDill AFB in Tampa, Fl has. Or sometimes the local Airports have them. There, he might be able to touch them and go inside some of them. And, after Wesley is in the AF, have him send back pictures of him with the planes, his friends and such. That will help put the images all together in his mind.
Yes! We are about 1 1/2 hours drive away from Scott AFB. I have lots of childhood memories of going to airshows with my parents. Lots and lots of airshows. Wonderful memories. We also have an annual airshow locally that is pretty neat. Excellent idea!

Sunlitgoldpony said:
Many 3 year olds (as you may know) are vacuums for imformation. I think the visual images of actually seeing the planes, uniforms and even some things he could actually put his hands, like a toy airplane, would help the most. Is there a AFB near you? If so, take him to a yearly Airfest that they might have. Like MacDill AFB in Tampa, Fl has. Or sometimes the local Airports have them. There, he might be able to touch them and go inside some of them. And, after Wesley is in the AF, have him send back pictures of him with the planes, his friends and such. That will help put the images all together in his mind.
I loved those airshows! I still go to them. Have Wes explain where he is going and what he will be doing. Their relationship is different from the one you have with them. If Wes is talking to him about it, Harry will feel a real part of it.

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