Long-distance and weekend relationships are often part of everyday life due to the military profession, which affects the whole family. Over and over again it shows that especially nursery and primary school age children are particularly vulnerable members of the family. They find themselves in a phase of life in which stressful situations are mainly emotionally processed. How can challenges be presented to them in an understandable way? And how can they be offered help? On the one hand, to know in which stage of the pendulum relationship they are currently in? And on the other hand, to be able to understand that there is nothing threatening about the situation itself, when father or mother has to leave again and again?
It helps children to realize that the parent who commutes will return to the family in a reliable and predictable manner. In addition, it is important to show children why dad or mum live their everyday life − unlike many other parents − in such a regular spatial separation. For soldiers and their families, these questions and challenges arise in an intensive way.
For this reason, the new children's book of the ZFG was designed. Here, children can "look up" or read aloud an idealized, separate everyday life of mum, dad and the children −and thus also integrate their own experiences. Security is created when children can identify themselves and say, for example, "Jonas is like me! The reality of mum and dad commuting and being away from home thus visibly loses its "exotic" or even threatening nature.
Even if in this book Jonas' dad commutes, it quickly becomes clear that there are also female soldiers and as well mothers who commute. Even though the main role of the child Jonas is played by boy, he also has a sister named Mia. This circumstance makes it understandable for children that both boys and girls are equally affected.
The story of Jonas, who is waiting for his dad to come home, unfolds in an easily comprehensible way on the single days of the week: from Sunday/Monday (usually the departure days) through the days in the middle of the week to the return on Friday or Saturday. Jonas experiences that his father has to leave regularly. But at the same time he also learns that his Mother is there for him at home and that he can stay in contact with his dad. He finds out, what his father does in the distance and when it’s time for him to come back home. Jonas has to experience that parents have a little more time for their children at the weekend just like other parents − but also unfortunately that other things have to be done as well. The book leads to a wonderful time together in the longer togetherness of a long weekend or the longed-for holiday.
Of course some things are different in the military families than in Jonas´ family. But that’s not decisive. Orientation helps children − and it helps to clarify what is not the same at home like in the story. For this purpose, interactive questions are inserted before each new day of the week, with can help each child to creatively classify his or her own situation and experience of the respective day. Simple symbols in the book also allow the child to assign, for example, how often he or she has to sleep before the family can be together again at the weekend. "Jonas wartet aufs Wochenende" is the encouragement book for military families when a parents commutes.
The book is available from the Catholic military parish office at the Bundeswehr locations.
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