Communication is Key with Military Teens
Being a parent of a military teen can be challenging, even more so if you did not grow up in a military family yourself.
Frequent moves are a fact of life for military children. They are constantly uprooted from their friends and familiar surroundings. As a result, military teens have very different childhood experiences compared to their civilian peers.
Understanding what our military teens go through can be difficult. Truly understanding how they feel can be near impossible for parents who experienced a more traditional childhood and stayed planted in one environment. As parents of military teens, we can’t walk in their shoes and experience every new duty station through their eyes. Without understanding how they feel, how can we support them?
We can listen.
Keep the Lines of Communication Open
Listening to our teens is a protective parenting measure we can all put into place to help balance the unpredictability of military family life. With PCS season upon us, many children are in the process of changing schools and starting a new social circle. According to the National Military Family Association’s 2022 Military Teen Experience Survey, school transitions can significantly impact military teens’ well-being. This is an important time for parents to ensure their teens feel heard.
When life is unpredictable everywhere else, we can do our best to provide a supportive home environment. Provide constant, steady support, and focus on listening as a protective parenting measure. This does not mean we must be perfect parents or have the perfect home life. It simply means finding small ways to balance the challenges with positive experiences.
Provide Support and Opportunities to Communicate
Provide your teen with opportunities to be open and communicate with you. This could be done by eating dinner together, taking a walk, or even playing a game of Mario Kart. It is important to remember our teens are also developing their independence. While they may not want us to arrange social interactions for them, we can listen to their needs and help them to find social resources. Our willingness to listen to those opinions could be what they need most from us.
As military parents, we may not fully understand what our children are going through. By listening to their concerns and thoughts, we will be better prepared to provide them with the resources and skills they need to do good, be good, and feel good.
By: Nakita Fowler, NMFA Human Resources and Administration Coordinator