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The Tiniest Soldiers: Kids Staying Strong While Parents Serve

Whether you're personally for or against the war in Iraq, the emotional toll it is having on the children of those deployed in service is a daily battle in a tiny body. About 1.2 million children belong to families with an active duty parent — and 40 percent of those kids are under the age of five. According to one expert the stress at that age of having a missing parent can have a negative effect on healthy development.

Two military moms have come up with their own solution to help ease the pain of missing a soldier dad: it's called the Daddy Doll. Cooked up by a mom whose husband was deploying and leaving four kids behind, it's a doll emblazoned with a full-length picture of the father in uniform each with a personalized recording in their own voice. She says of the recordings in her family's Daddy Doll, "he actually did them the day he left, so it was an emotional time for him. You can kind of hear his voice crack a little bit in some of the recordings." The dolls are designed to help kids deal with their absent parent, and the moms say they can soothe a sad kid just by being able to hear his voice and seeing his image.

With all the news from the conflicts and war fronts, are we paying enough attention to those serving from home? Do traditions and mementos like these Daddy Dolls help?

Check out the video of the piece, including the story of one family who's traced dad's hand and hung it on the fridge, so the kids can always have a dad "high-five".


Join The Conversation
My sister-in-law just left Sunday morning for deployment. They go to Oklahoma to finish training, then leave from there to Iraq in August. We went to the departure ceremony Saturday, of which had a huge turnout. She is leaving a 5 year old girl, of whom cried for an hour and a half Sunday morning after the send off, and a 2 year old boy. It is so heart breaking to listen to my neice ask if I can go get her mommy back. We have a lot of activities planned for the kids while their mom is gone, to take their minds off of it, like making a beach trip, taking them to the zoo, and Sea World.
meumitsuki meumitsuki 9 years
When my husband was deployed, my son called the computer Daddy because thats where we watched videos that he sent. When deployments happen, almost all of the men in town are gone, so my daughter really didn't see any men except grandpop until she was almost 1.
LaurenG22 LaurenG22 9 years
I am a military spouse and teach in a Department of Defense School, and the kids ARE resiliant. They all are so proud of their mommies and daddies. For Father's day they had to write a note to their daddy's and one child wrote, "Thank you Daddy for being strong, brave, and fighting for me and mommy. I promise when you are gone I will be better for mommy this time, I was pretty bad last time, right?" hahahaha it cracked me up, it was a 7 year old!
Jillness Jillness 9 years
Beautiful stories, Jennifer and Hypno. Thank you so much for sharing.
MartiniLush MartiniLush 9 years
jennifer76, thank your husband for all that he is doing for his country and thank your little man for sharing him with all of us! And I am SO SORRY that someone went off about the war in his presence - what a moron!
jennifer76 jennifer76 9 years
Aw, Hypno. That's a really sweet vignette. :cry:
jennifer76 jennifer76 9 years
Those Daddy Dolls are neat. My husband took the kids to one of those Build-A-Bear type places before this last deployment and let them pick out and dress up a stuffed animal and put those little voice recorder boxes in each of them with little messages for the kids. They really loved those. It kind of killed me after he first left and I would lay them down to sleep and walk down the hallway and hear them starting up their little bears with "Daddy loves and misses you Baby A/Little Man". :cry: Another thing that really helps them is when people talk to them about it. You should see Little Man beam with pride when people tell him that his Daddy is doing something important for the whole country and thank him for sharing his Daddy. On the other hand, I've actually had one person go off on the war in his presence and I could not BELIEVE the audacity and selfishness. So you think the war is a big stupid evil waste of time? Fine. Spare a 5 year old your personal diatribe, please. :mob: But, anyhow. It's nice when people really care about the toll these deployments take on kids. Not so nice when people use them as just another tool in their anti-war/GWB arsenal.
hypnoticmix hypnoticmix 9 years
Yeah that is one of those moments that will stay with me. I think about them from time to time and send a little prayer up.
MartiniLush MartiniLush 9 years
Hypno, that was a great story, thanks so much for sharing it...
harmonyfrance harmonyfrance 9 years
Okay hypno you just made me cry. Wow. We owe our military members and their families so much. After 9-11 it was like that for me. Whenever I was in public in uniform...strangers would walk up to me and shake my hand or some of them would even hug me. The support the military got after 9-11 was miraculous and touching and I hope people continue to support the troops whether they agree with the war or not.
Jillness Jillness 9 years
The dolls are such a good idea! Very sweet.
hypnoticmix hypnoticmix 9 years
I think the dolls are a great idea. This article reminds me of when I was taking the train into San Francisco one afternoon a couple of years ago. There was a father sitting across from me with his son who appeared to be 5 or 6. He was talking to his son about being the man of the house and helping his mom out. Telling his son that he's proud of him and to continue to do well in school. The young man asked where you going and the father are said Daddy has to go away for a while and do his job for the Army. It was the night before his deployment and they were going out on the town. He said to his son we can do what ever you want to do tonight it's me and you and we're going to have fun. The young man said with a knowing look in his eye's o.k. daddy. There was not a dry eye with in ear shot of that conversation. It took me everything I had not to break down. When they left the train people stopped to shake his hand and say thank you and what good father he was.
bigestivediscuit bigestivediscuit 9 years
That definitely just brought tears to my eyes.
tiff58 tiff58 9 years
This is such a sweet idea! And I love Army Wives..great show!
MartiniLush MartiniLush 9 years
This is great! Coming from a military family, I know how hard it can be on the kids. Reading this makes me want to cry.
DesignRchic DesignRchic 9 years
OMG :cry: that picture & story of the "Daddy Doll" got me all choked up.
hausfrau hausfrau 9 years
piper thats a good point, its amazing how resilient kids are. i never cease to be in awe of them. i've seen so many kids just pick up right where they left off when their dad comes home.
piper23 piper23 9 years
I've never seen that show. See the commercials but have never checked it out. My husband came home for Memorial Day and it had been so long since my daughter had seen him, I was afraid that she would think "da da" was a cellphone. Luckily she didn't.
hausfrau hausfrau 9 years
Kas - I saw that too... at least they are referring people to places where they can help families and not just stumping for themselves. I can't wait for Army Wives to start again!!
raciccarone raciccarone 9 years
I feel terrible for those kids and as much as it's great to have a doll, it's still got to be hard.
kastarte2 kastarte2 9 years
This is kinda off topic but both McCain and Obama are doing ads for "Army Wives" the tv show on lifetime and encouraging people to go online and find out how they can help families who have a member serving in Iraq. The war for the women voters begins!
CaterpillarGirl CaterpillarGirl 9 years
anna is it GW's fault the parent joined the military? My niece had a daddy doll when her dad was in the first gulf war, it had a camo body with his face on it and she brought it everywhere! we took pictures of "daddy" with her at the zoo, she would sit him next to her at the table, Poor Lindy thought the thing was going to take his place!
stiletta stiletta 9 years
em1282 em1282 9 years
This is an awesome idea. I actually saw a tribute to some soldiers from IL (pictures, drawings, etc.) who died in the war up at one of our state buildings a few months ago, and there was one that brought me to tears because his wife stapled a picture of their baby to his picture. The soldier never got to see his newborn daughter. At least this way, if something does happen, the children will have some idea of what his/her father or mother was like...
AnnaLove AnnaLove 9 years
The mom should make a corresponding George Bush doll for the kid to kick the shit out of.
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