The Family Unit
Online program helps military families with challenges of parenting
CFB Esquimalt’s Web-Based Learning Tool a First in Canada
Last May the Esquimalt Military Family Resource Centre launched the first web-based learning program for military parents.
Available to CF families across Canada and CF families living out of Canada (OUTCAN), Raising Your Military Child teaches the at-home and deployed parent about behaviours they may see in their child and how to support their child at any age. The bilingual training is available online at no cost by visiting www.esquimaltmfrc.com.
“There has been recent research done on the impact of military life on children,” said Gaynor Jackson, executive director of the Esquimalt Military Family Resource Centre. A study in March 2011 by the University of New Brunswick revealed that teens from military families face unique stressors during deployment.
“The study wasn’t news to Military Family Resource Centres,” continued Jackson. “We developed ‘Raising Your Military Child’ because of what our families say their needs are. We have been creating this resource since last fall based on that input. The tool gives parents easily accessible tips on how to best support their children if they are impacted by the lifestyle challenges. No matter what age, we can all experience stress. This website covers all age groups from newborns to teens.”
“Nothing like this has really been done in Canada,” adds Linda Scott, Program Manager at the Esquimalt Military Family Resource Centre. “There are some good resources on American websites but we wanted to do something specific for Canadian military families.”
Having had a hand in developing the product, Scott continues, “Military parents have a lot of unique challenges. They might see changes in the behaviour of their two-year-old during a deployment or in their eight-year-old during a move. If one parent leaves on deployment, the child might not let the other parent out of their sight. If a parent or child is really struggling or if someone has had a tough day, the resource may give the parents a few ideas of things to try. Maybe the child that was independent is having problems now. Maybe the baby is being shy with the parent who just returned from deployment. The online tool offers specific tips for the at-home parent and for the military member to do while they are away to stay connected with their child.”
Making the learning tool available online was essential. Research from the Esquimalt MFRC showed that close to 15 percent of military families live outside of a 30-minute drive of one of their three locations.
“Families can’t always get into the resource centre,” said Jackson. “Raising Your Military Child is available for them on our website anytime of the day for them to access confidentially. In some situations, they are a 30 to 45 minute drive from attending a workshop in-person. This way they can access the information at home as their schedules permit.”
Established in 1988, the Esquimalt MFRC is the only local non-profit organization that provides programs and services for military members posted to CFB Esquimalt and their families. It provides assistance with relocating to a new community, work-related separations, counselling services, and has two daycares. The resource centre has three locations including two in Esquimalt and one in Colwood, BC.