Since your son or daughter announced his or her plan to join the military or accepted an appointment to a military service academy, you knew this day would come. In the days leading up to your child’s departure for basic training, your heart will be filled with a range of emotions—immense pride, joy, anxiety, and fear of the unknown. This is completely normal!
In this month’s blog, we share 8 basic training survival tips for parents and families.
1. Know What to Expect.
Knowing what to expect before your son or daughter leaves for basic training will alleviate some of your fear and calm your anxiety. Many basic training location websites detail what your child will be experiencing during their time away. Knowledge is very empowering. Share this information freely and openly with all family members (as appropriate).
2. Be Supportive.
Always let your child know how proud you are of his or her decision to serve our country. And recognize that, like you, your child is experiencing a whole range of emotions. Your child may not even understand some of these new emotions. Especially as departure day gets closer, you may see some changes in your child, including a need for more personal space, and less interest in going out with friends.
3. Talk it Out.
Let your recruit know that you are there if and when he or she needs to talk. Consider going on a long drive together, which naturally lends itself to conversation. Give other family members an opportunity to safely discuss their feelings, too. If you have younger children in the home, allow them to express themselves through drawing or storytelling. Check out the suggested children’s reading list from operationwearehere.com.
4. Keep a Journal.
Journaling is an excellent way to reflect upon your emotions before, during, and after your child departs for basic training.
5. Organize a Send off Party for Your Recruit.
A send off party is a great way for you to celebrate your recruit and take your mind off some of your worry and anxiety. Don’t forget to involve other family members and key friends in planning the party.
6. Create a Plan for Keeping Busy.
Staying busy while your recruit is at basic training will help the time pass more quickly and keep you in a productive, positive state of mind. Consider joining a new fitness program or completing a home or yard project. Involve the entire family by having them work together on a memory or T-shirt quilt, scrapbook, or other special gift for your child. Keeping busy in this manner will give you something to look forward to sharing with your child when he or she returns.
7. Offer and Accept Support.
Willingly offering your help and accepting support from other military families who are going through the same thing you are provides a tremendous amount of strength and comfort. Many basic training locations have Facebook groups for each company and platoon, ship and division, and TRS/FLT currently in training. There are also several general support Facebook groups like Navy for Moms, Recruit Parents, or Air Force Wing Moms. For additional support, check out todaysmilitary.com, which shares websites developed for and by people just like you!
8. Write Every Day.
Although your recruit will not have access to phones or email during basic training, you can stay in touch through letters. And writing letters to your child during basic training is the best way you can offer your ongoing support and encouragement. Thanks to ProjectWrite2Them, staying connected with your recruit is easier than ever. The volunteer-led, nonprofit organization helps families stay in touch with their recruit by turning their emails into letters from home. Contact us today to learn more!
Know You Will Get Through This!
Just like your child, you will get through the difficulties and challenges of basic training. And you will both experience a tremendous amount of growth, too. Take comfort knowing that as your recruit embarks on this major life experience, your role will also change and expand. You’re now the proud parent of a U.S. service member.
We’d love to hear your thoughts…
Do you have any other advice to share with other military parents and families? We’d love to hear from you. Please share your comments below or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.