Online parenting tool launched for military families

Greater Victoria program first of its kind in Canada

Five-year-old Trent Mill gets help from his mother Roxanne to put a photo of his dad’s ship

Five-year-old Trent Mill gets help from his mother Roxanne to put a photo of his dad’s ship

With a glance at his mom, Trent steps up to the glossy world map on his bedroom wall.

“Where’s dad right now?” Roxanne asks her five-year-old.

Trent moves a thumbnail-size picture of the navy warship his dad, Leading Seaman Justin Mill, is currently sailing on, and places it just off the coast of Vancouver Island.

“Right there,” he says confidently.

Throughout the six years they have been married, Mill has been away for weeks or months at a time, leaving much of the household and parenting responsibilities to Roxanne.

“A couple of days ago (Trent) said his stomach and throat hurt, and then he would say ‘I miss my dad. I want my dad,’” Roxanne says.

“I understand and I’m trying to keep a smile on my face because I don’t want him to see how bad I want his dad home too.”

That’s why she cheered inwardly when the Esquimalt Military Family Resource Centre launched Raising Your Military Child on its website Wednesday, the first online tool developed for military parents in Canada.

Roxanne says the bilingual service offers military families – especially parents – a beacon of hope.

“It’s a great resource for someone who might not want to go and seek out information,” she says, adding that it will also appeal to newcomers to the military lifestyle. “This way we do it from the privacy of our own homes.”

After a year in development the tool offers a wide selection of tips, tools and information about what children may be experiencing when a parent is deployed, or the family is moved to another military base.

The service is ideal for nearly 15 per cent of military families that live more than a 30-minute drive from one of the three MFRCs in Colwood and Esquimalt, says Linda Scott, Esquimalt MFRC program manager

“During a deployment…they may be home and the children are in bed and they just have questions,” says Scott, who helped developed the tool.

“If I’m not feeling so stranded and so alone, I am happier,” Roxanne says. “I know that makes it easier for (Justin).”

Raising Your Military Child is available at www.esquimaltmfrc.com.

emccracken@vicnews.com