What can you do to help ease the situation where a parent or both parents need to be absent for a spell? For a younger child, try to keep the separation as short as possible. Have a family member take care of the child, rather than a stranger. Tape a photo of the absent parent where it can be seen from the cot, have an article of the parent's clothing for the child to cuddle with (beware, though, of the suffocating risks with infants), make a tape recording of the parent telling favourite stories or singing favourite songs.
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For older children, make a calendar and cross off each day until the parent returns, talk about what you'll all do together then, have a frequent telephone calls, email or letters. For separations that are months in length, connect the parent's return to an expected change in the seasons or another milestone the child will recognize.
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Tell stories about families or friends that have to be apart, but then come together again. If you aren't certain when the absent parent will return, it is even more important to exchange letters, phone calls and emails, to remember what you did when you were all together and talk about the good times to come. Temporary separation of a parent is a perfect situation to use technology - let the child interact through Skype.
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