Blog: 5 tips for raising a military family
Many military servicemembers have families that live with them on-base. However, raising children amidst the hustle and bustle of the base and under strict military schedules can be difficult. AFBA has composed a list of tips to help parents raise families despite the semi-chaos of military life:
1. Establish a routine and stick to it.
Between relocations and the deployment of parents, military children may have a difficult time adjusting. To help your children find stability and normalcy, try to create a schedule with them. This means waking up around the same time each day, following a similar routine throughout the day and going to bed about the same time each night. Erratic sleep schedules or unpredictable daily routines can make it difficult for children to adjust to change.
2. They are children, not cadets.
As a military parent, it can be challenging to separate your work life from your home life, especially when it comes to your children. Do your best to avoid treating them like part of your unit. They will make mistakes, get messy and disobey. They are children, after all. It can be tempting to put them under the same strict regimen as your soldiers. Try to remember that they are young and are learning. This will help keep your relationship from souring.
3. Give them emotional outlets.
Whether they are dealing with a parent deploying or a cross-country move, military children have a lot to deal with. With all of their experiences come plenty of emotions. If your children do not have an outlet for their thoughts and feelings, it could become a problem. Make it clear that your are available to talk with them if they want or set up some time on a regular basis for them to talk with a military youth counselor.
4. Carve out family time.
Sure, military life is hectic, but it is important for children to get family time. If you or your spouse are available, schedule family meals on a regular basis or try to go for a family outing. If one of your is deployed, make an effort to video call your family on a regular basis, if possible. Even a few minutes of face-to-face screen time can be beneficial to both the children and the military parent.
5. Socialization is important.
Change is a big part of military children's lives. It is important that, despite frequent moves, they learn to socialize properly with their peers. Encourage your children to get active in groups on-base and to participate in activities. With a little support, they will learn to reach out to others and make healthy connections.
There is something entirely unique and special about growing up a military child. As a military parent, it is your job to help your children develop good social skills, healthy coping habits and strong family bonds. Hopefully, the tips listed above can help you accomplish this mission.