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E d u c a t i o n


My Daddy is Going Away, but That’s Okay…


M


ajor Christopher MacGregor, dad to Ben, 5, and Ellie, 3, was moved to write a poem on his way home from Out of Area. Chris explains how this then inspired him to write a book.


Ironically, it was on the plane coming home that I started to write the poem. The tour had been intense and an incredibly arduous and emotional experience for all of us. At the time, I was writing it for Ben and Ellie with the intention of helping them deal with their ‘separation anxiety’ because, although I was on my way back, I would undoubtedly go away again.


The children missed me very much. Fortunately, their anxieties were generously soothed by their mother. Vicky was able to answer their questions, share their concerns and comfort them through a combination of her maternal instinct and her experience as a Paediatric and Learning Disabilities Nurse. I have a first degree in psychology, so it would be fair to assume that if anyone was ready, set and able to handle with relative ease the emotional cycle of deployment it would surely be the MacGregor family. However, this was not the case!


Knowing you feel sad, or angry, or frightened is not enough; understanding why those feelings are there let us develop strategies to cope. I learnt a great deal from my wife and how she dealt with Ben and Ellie’s questions, tantrums, sulks and the changes in behaviour. But life is never easy – and there were occasions when


Ben and Ellie became real handfuls. They found it especially difficult in the early days when I would be coming and going. For them, this was more difficult to handle than when I finally deployed.


It occurred to me that if Vicky and I


found it difficult so must other parents. Having commanded over 100 soldiers, with over 50 children between them, in what was an intense operational tour, I noticed common themes:


• Daddies who have happy families at home are better able to cope with the stresses of their profession. And the children cope better too.


• Children who are offered an explanation, told it is not their fault and that Daddy will still love and care about them, will be better adjusted...at least in theory!


• Mums who understand the emotional shifts they feel, and see in their children, are better able to cope with the added strains.


There is a huge sense of pride in having published the book and top it all, Prince Charles wrote the Foreword!


To find out more about Chris’ book or to order go to: www.mydaddysgoingaway.com


24


Spring 2010


www.raf-ff.org.uk


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