A Seafarer's Guide to Rebuilding Bonds with Your Family
Before Returning Home
Pre-Arrival Communication:Before arriving home, communicate with your family about your return, discussing any fears, expectations, and hopes for your time together.
Plan Joint Activities:Plan activities or outings with your family and friends for your return. This can help in re-establishing connections and creating joyful memories together.
Seek Professional Guidance:Consider seeking counseling or therapy for you and/or your family to navigate the emotional complexities of your return.
Educate Yourself and Your Family:Educate yourself and your family about the possible emotional difficulties faced by seafarers upon return, so everyone is prepared and understanding.
Create a Reintegration Plan:Work with your family to develop a reintegration plan that includes strategies for addressing potential challenges and ensuring a smoother transition.
Regular Virtual Interaction:If possible, have regular video calls with your family and children.
Share Photos and Videos:Send photos and videos of yourself to your partner to show to the children regularly.
Potential Emotional Difficulties
Reintegration Issues: Feeling like a stranger in your own home or feeling out of place can be common. Difficulty reconnecting with family and friends after being away for so long.
Communication Gaps: Struggling to communicate or articulate experiences, feelings, and emotions with family members. Feeling misunderstood or unable to relate to others’ experiences.
Altered Family Dynamics: Finding that roles within the family have shifted in your absence, leading to feelings of displacement or irrelevance.
Emotional Overwhelm: Experiencing a whirlwind of emotions, such as joy, sadness, anxiety, or uncertainty, can be overwhelming.
Adjustment to Different Routines: Difficulty in adapting to the routines and schedules of home life after being accustomed to the structured environment onboard.
How to Tackle These Issues
Be Patient and Give It Time: Understand that adjustment takes time. Be patient with yourself and your family as everyone adapts to your return.
Open Communication:Engage in open and honest communication with your family and friends about your feelings and experiences.
Seek Family Support:Encourage your family to participate in discussions and planning for your return to help ease the transition.
Involve Your Family in Pre-Return Preparations:Share your anticipated arrival date and discuss expectations and plans for your time at home.
Be Prepared for Changes:Accept that things may have changed during your absence, and that’s okay. Be adaptable and willing to find your place within the new dynamics.
In conclusion, understanding and anticipating the emotional difficulties associated with returning home after months onboard is crucial for seafarers. Proactive communication, preparation, and the implementation of coping strategies can greatly enhance the transition experience, fostering a positive, supportive, and understanding environment for both the seafarer and their family.