How is parenting in an Army family different from that in other households? How does the unavailability of a parent impact the child? How does the child cope with the constant shifting of places? Express Parenting got in touch with three mothers who shared their experience of raising their child, with the father being away on duty.
It’s a nomadic life: Deenaz Raisinghani
“Parenting as an army family is a little different from parenting in a civilian lifestyle. We have changed four stations in India since our daughter was born so she has already got used to the nomadic life courtesy her parents. Along with change in place, the kid will have to deal with changing schools, a new set of friends and a home that is temporary during most of her growing up years. This means that she will have to learn to cope with these shifts and adapt as the situation demands.
Also because the husband is often on duty, the mother has to be constantly around to take care of everything concerning home and child. Challenges apart, the best gift this lifestyle gives to army kids is the life inside army cantonments which is very different in terms of facilities available, army schools and exposure to various sports and clubs. This is a huge positive and we hope to expose her to such opportunities as she grows up.”
Quitting schools mid-session is a challenge: Anuradha Kapur
“The situation becomes difficult both for the parents and the child, whose school, teachers and friend circle keep changing constantly. At times, we have to choose our circle based on the child’s group of friends. There are times when they have to quit a particular school mid-session to move to another. At that time, it becomes really challenging for us to give them moral support and confidence. Again, it is the same child who may become emotionally very strong later in life.
My daughter is very attached to my husband. My husband goes out for training, sometimes up to six months. These months prove to be difficult and I end up imitating his way of spending time with our daughter.”
The child feels the father’s absence: Kokil Vohra
“I am an Army kid myself, and now I am the mother of an Army kid. There are a whole lot of challenges in terms of how fathers in the Army are usually unavailable for the child, for PTMs, board exams or when he or she is promoted to a new class, for instance. The physical absence pinches the child. For that, we motivate the child, saying that his dad is different and is working for the country. However, they are connected over phone or video call.
My son had to change a number of schools. I’ve myself attended 13 different schools up to class 12. It was easier for me to handle the situation since I had myself been through it all. I was with my son for his board exams while his father was elsewhere in a sensitive area. Now, I am living with my husband, who is posted in the border area, while my son is away in a hostel. All because there are no good college facilities available here. It is only for a few days in a year that the family comes together, but we make sure we spend quality time.”