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You're In The Army Now: Teens in Military Families

Teens in military families face special challenges that others their age will never know.  First, they typically move every 2-3 years and thus have to adjust to new schools, neighborhoods and peer groups. They also have to deal with the sense of insecurity that comes from knowing that one or both parents are often in harm's way.  Finally, they can spend months or years of their lives separated from one or both of their parents.  Fortunately, there is much that parents can do to help their teens cope with these unique conditions.

  1. Encourage your teen to join any support groups or other organizations sponsored by the base in your area.  If you do not currently live near a base, check online to see what services are available.
  2. Help your teen stay in touch with the parent who is away through letters, emails, phone calls, computer conferences or whatever other type of communication is available.
  3. Make sure that you stay in touch with the deployed parent, also, and involve him in as many decisions and family events as possible.
  4. Consider buying your teen a video camera on which he can record his thoughts and special events for the away parent.  He can then send a tape overseas or save them for watching when the away parent returns home.
  5. Use the same methods mentioned above to help your teen stay in touch with friends he has to move away from.
  6. Allow your teen opportunities to travel to visit friends he no longer lives near.
  7. Make sure your teen always has access to some adult that both of you trust.  He needs to be able to share his feelings and fears without being concerned that they might upset you.
Let your teen know that you also miss his deployed parent, but try not to dump your frustrations and burdens on his young shoulders.

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