Back to school means a lot of things and for military families even more so.
As parents it’s the relief of being able to say “Don’t you have homework” in answer to the tiresome “I’m Bored” whine we’ve heard on and off all summer long. It’s the anticipation that soon we can finally resume some type of a routine and even have a little more time to ourselves.
But for our military kids it’s so much more than that. Back to school can be a time of uncertainty and we as military parents need tobe aware. New schools, new friends and new teachers are key ingredients in a recipe primed for stress and fear in our milkids.
Sure they may be “used to it”, heck this probably isn’t their first PCS or new school, but it doesn’t matter if it’s the first or the 10th new school year it is the perfect time to talk and listen to your children about all they are dealing with as military dependents. I know that it’s one more thing to add to the list of back to school “to-do’s”, but I promise you it will be enlightening and informative.
More importantly it could make a real difference in your child’s life.
Here are some ideas and questions to make the conversation easier.
• Remember this conversation isn’t about what you THINK about how your child feels; it’s about listening and asking the questions to help them understand how they feel. So often our kids are afraid of their true feelings, especially when our service member is away. They want to appear strong for us. Create a safe place where they can talk about their fears and really listen to what they are saying.
o Are they excited to see and make new friends?
o What will they miss about last year (or your last duty station)?
o What is something they are looking forward to?
o What is the biggest thing they are worried about
• Know that often when our milkids (especially our teens) tell us their fears and challenges, they aren’t always asking us to fix it. They are expressing a need and as their parent the best thing you can do is to empower and encourage them to find a solution and take action. Show them you believe they are capable and strong and 9 times out of 10 they will step up to the plate.
Note: Is there a time to step in absolutely! Bullying, risk-taking behavior and depression need adult insight and input. Don’t be afraid to step in when your alarm bells begin ringing. Better to be safe.
• Talking with our middle and high school kids about the upcoming school year can be challenging especially when they push us away and say “I’m fine. Don’t be so quick to believe them. Milkids grow up quickly and they deal with situations far beyond their years. It’s up to us to show them unconditional love and understanding. The best way to help our military teens is to keep talking (not lecturing), keep listening (not judging) and keep interested and involved in their lives.
Have you taken the time to ask them how they feel about starting this school year?
By Judy Davis – The Direction Diva
— Motivational speaker, author and blogger Judy Davis – The Direction Diva has a passion for inspiring the military community to “One Moment at a Time”. Read her blog and get her new book Right Side Up: Find Your Way When Military Life Turns You Upside Down (Release Sept 1st, 2014) at http://thedirectiondiva.com/