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When Dad's Away

Whether due to a military job or frequent business trips, kids  -- especially toddlers  -- have a tough time dealing with it when Daddy's not around. "They can't understand that his absence is only temporary," says Frederic Medway, Ph.D., a professor of psychology at the University of South Carolina in Columbia. To help your child adapt:

Give her a lovely parting gift. Have Dad record or videotape a bedtime story for your child.

Stick to routines. When you keep mealtimes, discipline, and bedtimes consistent, most kids will adjust quickly. But relax other rules if it's easier on you.

Keep the memories fresh. Little kids will love looking at photos. Phone calls and e-mail are great, too, but an old-fashioned postcard or a letter is more concrete. Plan a homecoming. Have your child make a "welcome home" drawing. Together, pick a special dessert or activity that the whole family will enjoy.