The New Parent Support Group is a military program for all military personnel who are pregnant and their spouse. It has its roots back in World War Two, when military authorities realized that young couples thrown into the maelstrom of war needed help in understanding their duties and responsibilities when it came to fostering new life.
Today the program is available at every major American military installation, and in places where it is not physically on site its programs and personnel can be accessed over the internet.
One of the most important aspects of the program is that helps new military parents find local support networks for things like medical care, post partum depression, financial counseling, breastfeeding, and other challenges that are unique to new parents.
Perhaps the most vital benefit of the New Parent Program is that it lets new parents in the military know that they are not alone, and that their emotional, physical, and spiritual needs can be met by trained experts who are just a few blocks away, or an email or phone call away.
To find the nearest New Parent Program to you, just go to Military Installations Locator and use the drop down menu to go to the New Parent Support Program.
The military is all about discipline. One of the first things a soldier or sailor or marine learns in boot camp is to obey orders, instantly and without question.
But with children, it’s a different situation altogether! Their young minds are not yet ready to process very much information at once. So when you tell them to wash their hands before dinner, all they may understand is that it’s time for dinner. So they show up at the table with unwashed hands.They are not being disobedient; they are only being kids!
To help them understand discipline, it’s important to use repetition and echo. Repeat your request, calmly, for them to wash their hands first, and then ask them to repeat what you just told them to do. Praise them for being able to repeat an order, even a simple one. Once you establish this as routine, your children will become comfortable with it and learn to respond somewhat like a soldier or sailor by doing it (sometimes after a bit of prodding!) and without asking too many questions (don’t expect miracles!)
Parenting in the military is always a challenge, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be done well, with a lot of fun and good memories to go along with it!i
With the holidays so near, it’s a good idea to work together to create some special traditions and memories for your children. Instead of focusing on a family member who has to be away for the holidays or the dangers and distractions of the military lifestyle, gather all the family members together for projects to help others at this time of year.
Gather food on your base for a local food shelf. Collect gently used blankets, mittens, hats, scarves, and purchase hygienic supplies like toothpaste, toothbrushes, and bars of soap, and for a local homeless shelter. Make this a family holiday tradition for your children and they’ll soon be more excited about the warm feeling that comes from helping others than their delight in their own presents!
Military families are called upon to make sacrifices that ordinary families never have to deal with.
One of the biggest challenges faced by military families is the constant possibility of deployment overseas, to be stationed somewhere that is too dangerous or inconvenient for your other family members.
This can be traumatic to military children if they are not educated and prepared for such an eventuality.
Don’t paint a picture of deployment as a difficult and tragic time for your family. Instead, encourage your children to be proud that they have a parent who is trusted enough by Uncle Sam to go overseas to help others in distress and protect our country’s safety.
Make sure your children know that you will not disappear completely from their lives once you are deployed. You’ll be able to write to them, email them, and probably even Skype to them as circumstances permit. Depending on the type and length of your deployment, you may even be granted family leave from time to time to come home and be with them. Assure them that the time will go by faster if they remain as positive about deployment as you are.
The military has a traditional image as a hard fighting, hard drinking bunch. While everyone understands that this is pretty much just a Hollywood cliche, there are still too many cases of substance abuse in our armed forces.
This is certainly a challenge for parents raising a teenager in the military. Your first line of defence is to always keep channels open with your teenager(s). If they feel comfortable telling you about the stress and peer pressure they feel to use recreational and addictive substances you in turn can assure them that those pressures can be counteracted without becoming totally ‘uncool’.
Of course, if you yourself use tobacco, alcohol, or other recreational substances, you’ve got a tough row to hoe when it comes to convincing your teenager not to experiment. You have an obligation to your children to discontinue such unhealthy practices. At least show them you are trying to do so.
No matter what, it’s always going to be your example that is strongest in their minds and memories as they struggle to establish themselves in this challenging world we live in
Military parents know that until they reach the upper ranks of command, the salary of a service man or woman remains modest and needs to be budgeted carefully.
This is especially true when there are teenagers in the house. They need to be taught the importance of wise money management to avoid the inevitable conflict that results when there’s too much month at the end of the money.
One of the best ideas for teaching military teens the importance of smart money management is to help them find part-time employment when they reach the appropriate age.
Help them set up their own savings and checking accounts once they have a job, so they can have their wages automatically deposited. This is a huge step for most teen, to have money in the bank instead of in their pockets where it inevitably starts burning a large hole.
Be patient with them; they’re bound to make some mistakes and go a little wild with those first few paychecks. But as they discover the consequences of poor money management, they’ll gradually learn the right way to use their hard-earned dollars to make their lives better — if not Rock Star glam!
It’s important for your child to feel a sense of belonging while you are serving your country in the military.
Service men and women can take advantage of many different types of organizations to build relationships and a sense of belong, any of which can be a positive influence in military parenting.
But perhaps one of the most important decisions you will make as a military parent concerns the religious upbringing of your child. Studies show that children who identify with a specific religious group feel more secure and stable than those whose parents do not have any specific religious affiliation.
So give this some serious thought as you raise your children. If your parents had a religious affiliation, do you want to follow them? Or do you feel the need to explore other religions? Even if you are an agnostic, remember that your children are born with a sense of wonder and awe at the world around them — talk to one of your base chaplains to find a religious organization that can serve both your needs as an adult and your children’s innocent desires.
Sometimes military parents wonder if the massive amount of routine that they are subject to in their duties should be reflected at all in their children’s lives.
The answer is, yes; children do better when they are encouraged and trained to follow a set routine in daily life. Perhaps not to the extent of an adult member of the military, but certainly child experts agree that children grow confident and more creative when some routine is introduced into their lives starting at an early age.
Some simple routines to establish for children are:
Hand washing before each meal.
Scheduled time reserved for family activities.
Doctor and dental checkups.
One of the biggest helps in establishing routines with your children is to map it all out on a large calendar that can then be put on the refrigerator door or some other open space. That way your children identify their name (usually the very first thing they learn to spell) with assigned routines that they know are their responsibility.
And finally, always make sure you praise your children for following the routines that are set for them. Make them feel it’s important and pleasing to you when they follow through on routine. That will help build an ingrained desire to have routines throughout the rest of their lives.