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In Honor of Veterans Day: The Experiences of Military Families
Members and families of the United States military have a strong commitment to serve. Service members work long hours, and families experience constant moves and deployments.
Transitions may lead to tension, disconnect, and conflict between parents. About 75% of military couples get divorced. When a family breaks up, parents and children of all ages feel helpless, sad, frightened, guilty, and angry.
Children can’t wait until the day their mommy or daddy is home for good. Everything will be great then! But many children are left sad and don’t understand why parents begin to argue or ignore each other, why they are not playing games or having family dinners, why their parent who was gone for so long now doesn’t want to talk with them or attend their sporting events. They are confused, wondering why this parent just sits in front of the TV or is always working on the car or keeps talking to themselves or struggles to walk due to an injury in combat.
At Kids’ Turn San Diego, our goal is to change family relationships in positive ways so children experiencing family separations and military transitions are happier. In our programs, both children and their parents participate. Children realize for the first time that they are not alone in their family situation. They finally feel “normal.” They learn new ways to express their feelings and realize that their parent’s behavior is not their fault, freeing them from self-blame. Parents learn communication tools, coping skills, and ways to put their children first in family decisions
In celebration of Veterans Day, spend the day with your children! Here are some ideas:
- Visit the Veterans Museum at Balboa Park
- Take a tour of the USS Midway
- Go to a Veterans Day Parade in your community
- Visit the Flying Leatherneck Aviation Museum at MCAS Miramar
- Talk with your children about the history of our country
- Put a flag out to honor Veterans Day
- Wear a red poppy or yellow ribbon to show support
More interested in hanging out at home? Try some of these ideas:
- Put your cell phone down and do something fun with your child. Younger children enjoy imaginative play like tea parties or superhero adventures. Children ages 7-12 tend to enjoy board/video games, and older children like to listen to music, play video games, or simply hang out—without parents asking questions or giving advice. Children of all ages feel important and cared for when you pay attention to them.
- Encourage your children by using phrases like:
- “You’re so much fun to be around!”
- “Can I put this on the bulletin board at work or on the refrigerator?”
- “I’m so lucky to be your parent.”
- Try to catch your child doing something good and notice it aloud.
- “You are such a good big brother/sister.”
- “I love how you are teaching your younger sibling how to…”
- “I saw that you got an A on your math test—great job!”
- Encourage your child’s relationship with their other parent or grandparents. One way is to help them make birthday cards or Mother’s/Father’s Day cards. Things that are handmade are oftentimes the most treasured gifts we receive from others.
- Listen to your children without giving advice or trying to solve their problems.
Being in the military is a family commitment. In honor of Veterans Day, Kids’ Turn San Diego salutes all military-connected family members. Thank you all for your commitment and service!