Challenges of being in a military family
As parents, we struggle with the day-to-day issues and hurdles that make us want to pull our hair out. Parents who are deployed and trying to raise children have an unfathomable challenge ahead of them. According to studies, 2 million youngsters in the United States have been exposed to a military parent's deployment during combat in the last ten years.
It is critical for parents, caregivers, teachers, and other adults to understand how military deployment impacts children. The older the children become, the more obstacles they face.
Here are just a few of the difficulties that teenagers and their parents face.
Moving may be depressing
Moving is part of being in a military family. They often experience frequent migrations to distant areas and are away from family, which are common for them.
For an adolescent, this means having to start from scratch. Again and again. They must locate new sports teams, and buddy groups, and discover the lay of the land without the assistance of anyone else for introductions.
This may be a challenging adjustment at a time when social demands are beginning to emerge. Finding a niche is essential. Whether it's a youth group, a specific club, or a team, finding methods to connect is essential.
We need to provide support and encouragement, along with patience and understanding during this time.
Don’t judge them. You know their name, but not their story.
The impacts of deployments shift as the children get older. They acclimated easily to having just one parent in the house when they were younger. Adapting as a tween or a teen might be more difficult.
Another difficulty is that the children realize the underlying risk in what their parents do. It is no longer possible to sugarcoat it. They are intelligent and ought to be respected, which includes admitting that the dangers are frightening.
Start with a conversation allowing them to express their concerns, to be heard. Let your kids ask questions, and answer questions as simply and honestly as you can. Saying “it’s going to be alright” is a falsehood and does not validate their feelings. We all want to be heard, repeat what you feel like the teen has stated to you, so they know you have heard them, not just pacified their statements.
Reassure your children that things will stay as routine as possible at home. Be thoughtful of the words you choose, when you ask a teen “What can I do to help?”, they don’t have the answer. If they knew what to do to help themselves, they would. It just starts the cycle again of feeling unsure. So, what can you do to help?
According to research, it usually takes around six weeks for families to adopt new habits and a new feeling of normality.
Here are some suggestions to assist your youngster adapts to the deployment of a parent:
Make a video or have the other parent read a bedtime tale to your child. If you can make a tape before the other parent deploys, seeing or hearing the deployed parent's voice may provide some solace.
On a regular occasion, bring up the deployed parent. Sometimes the at-home parent is concerned that discussing the deployed parent will be too difficult for the children. However, discussing the problem with the other parent might be reassuring.
Foster communication with the deployed parent. Facilitate talks if phone calls are permitted (and children are unlikely to hear disturbing things during the call). Encourage your youngster to write letters and draw drawings for the other parent as well.
- Limit media exposure for young children. If a parent is in a hazardous war zone, the news coverage will be overwhelming for younger children. If you allow older children to watch the news, have frequent talks with them about what they see and learn.