Many of the parenting “experts” just don’t get what it’s like to be a military family. The fact is that being a parent to a military child is different and they need different coping skills that their civilian counter parts. From the time they are infants, our mil-kids must learn to adjust to new people, situations and environments like no other child does. They have to learn to make friends quickly and say goodbye too often. They must adjust to the times when their parent is gone on assignment, sometimes without much warning at all.
For military families, birthdays, holidays and special milestones are different and it’s no surprise that you need to have a bigger bag of tricks than other parents do. Here are some tips/strategies that you may not have thought about; many of which I have used and others I’ve learned from seasoned military wives.
7 Top Tips A Military Family Needs for Parenting Their Military Child
- Remember that your children can not fill the void that your spouse has left. Discussing adult events and challenges puts them in an awkward position causing unnecessary pressure and unknown stress. It may feel good to talk about it to someone who is missing your spouse as much as you and may help YOU cope, but it is not in their best interests at all.
- Always incorporate unexpected fun during a PCS…integrate a fun theme park stop or beach day or something to keep things exciting and keep the kids looking forward to each move. ~ Adrianna
- Be honest. Your children know when the mood and energy of the household changes. Give them information appropriate to their age level and answer their questions openly and honestly. (With that said, telling a child that has a limited concept of time that daddy is leaving in 7 months is NOT a good idea. However, you can say that he is training for a mission and that he will be gone more than he is now, and then when you get dates the transition will be easier)
- Do not give too much responsibility or expect your child to fill the shoes of your spouse (no matter what their age). We all know that military children grow up quickly, but remembering that you are the parent is SO important.
- Establish rules, discipline techniques and traditions that are a constant no matter where you are, who you are with, or whether the service member is away. This consistency helps your children and keeps the chaos away.
- Lots and lots and lots of prayer and real communication with family.
- Understand that your children are often “reacting” to your actions. When kids are losing it more often than not, it may be time to do some personal inventory and ask yourself Are You A Reactor?. Are you giving them mixed signals, being wishy-washy? Your children look to you when things get tough and need to be reassured that they are safe and want to know that you are listening to their fears and concerns.
~Judy Davis, the Direction Diva is a motivational speaker, author and entrepreneur as well as a military life and teen suicide prevention expert. Co-founder of DASIUM, Judy’s books Right Side Up and Warning Signs: Is Your Teen at Riskare go to resources for families and her websites are filled with tips, inspiration and resources for those looking for direction. Connect with Judy at TheDirectionDiva.com