Military life can be an exciting and rewarding experience for the entire family. However, it also comes with its own unique set of challenges. With frequent moves, deployments, and training schedules, military families face various day-to-day pressures that can stress relationships and test communication skills within the home. In times like these, it’s essential to have a support network in place. Having friends outside of the military community is necessary for your personal growth, having those who understand what you’re going through. It is because they’re going through it too. Give your child the best chance to grow into a happy and successful adult. It means putting your needs first from time to time, ensuring that you’re actively engaging in positive parenting practices, and staying aware of ways you can improve as time goes on. Positive parenting for military families is essential. This blog will teach you how to raise your kids to be better citizens and get a better military career.
What is a Positive Parenting?
Positive parenting for military families is essential for many reasons. Parenting in the military can be stressful as service members are always prepared to move at a moment’s notice, have frequent deployments, and deal with the uncertainty of whether they will call them. Whereas if you follow a loving, strong parenting style, it will lead to a variety of favourable child outcomes. This parenting style is known as “authoritative”. It is defined as a parenting method that incorporates a good mix of the following qualities: aggressive but not intrusive, demanding yet responsive, and supportive but punishing in terms of discipline. Positive parenting techniques can be particularly helpful for managing teenage behaviour in military families, as they promote healthy communication, mutual respect, and responsible decision-making.
Positive parenting involves being supportive, consistent and involved in your child’s life, which helps them develop healthy habits and a positive attitude. On the other hand, hostile parenting, which can occur due to stress or distraction, can result in criticizing or shaming children and making them feel unworthy. While it’s normal to sometimes fall into this trap, it’s important to recognize and change this behaviour to become a positive parent.
Military parenting involves unique challenges due to the demands and sacrifices of serving in the armed forces, while koala parenting is characterized by the marsupial’s nurturing and protective care for their young.
What are the 3 Fs of Positive Parenting for Military Families?
The 3 Fs of positive parenting for military families are “Fairness, Firmness, and Flexibility.” These principles emphasize the importance of being fair and consistent in expectations and consequences, while also remaining firm in discipline and boundaries. At the same time, it’s important to be flexible and adaptable to the unique challenges of military life, such as frequent moves and long separations from parents. By balancing these three principles, parents can create a positive and supportive environment for their children while also instilling important values and behaviours.
What are the Difficulties that Children of Military Parents Face?
Children of military parents face unique challenges and stresses such as frequent moves, long periods of separation from one or both parents, and adjusting to new schools and communities. This can lead to anxiety, sadness, and loneliness, and impact children’s overall well-being and development. Financial stress, housing instability, and limited access to support networks due to frequent relocations can also contribute to these difficulties.
- Frequent moves: Military families often move every few years, which can make it difficult for children to maintain friendships and adjust to new schools and communities.
- Separation from parents: Children may experience long periods of separation from one or both parents due to deployments, training, or other military obligations.
- Worries about parents’ safety: Children may worry about their parent’s safety when they are deployed or away on military duty, which can be stressful and anxiety-provoking.
- Emotional stress: The stressors of military life can lead to feelings of anxiety, sadness, and loneliness, which can impact children’s emotional well-being.
- Financial stress: Military families may experience financial stress due to factors such as low pay, frequent moves, and difficulty finding employment for the spouse or partner who is not in the military.
- Housing instability: Military families may have to move frequently and may struggle to find affordable and suitable housing.
- Limited access to support networks: Frequent relocations can make it difficult for military families to establish and maintain support networks, which can be important sources of emotional and practical support during difficult times.
Overall, these difficulties can impact children’s well-being, development, and academic performance. However, military families also have access to a range of resources and support services that can help mitigate these challenges and promote resilience in children.
What are the Problems Faced by Military Parents?
The unique demands and stresses of military life can create difficulties for military families, including frequent moves, long periods of separation from one or both parents, adjusting to new schools and communities, and financial stress. These challenges can impact the well-being and development of children and the overall functioning of military families. Here are some problems faced by military parents:
- Long periods of separation from family: Military parents may be deployed for extended periods, leaving behind their families. This can cause stress and anxiety for both the parents and children.
- Frequent moves: Military families are often required to move frequently, sometimes every few years. This can lead to disruption in children’s education and social life.
- Financial instability: Military families may face financial instability due to low pay, particularly for junior enlisted members. They may also incur expenses related to frequent relocations and deployments.
- Limited access to support networks: Frequent moves can make it difficult for military families to establish and maintain support networks. This can lead to feelings of isolation and loneliness.
- Balancing military and family responsibilities: Military parents often struggle to balance their military duties with their family responsibilities, particularly during deployments.
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD): Military parents may experience PTSD as a result of their military service. This can have a significant impact on their parenting and family life.
- Childcare challenges: Military parents may struggle to find affordable and reliable childcare, particularly during deployments or when they are stationed far from family.
- Medical issues: Military parents may face medical issues related to their service, such as physical injuries or exposure to toxic substances. This can impact their ability to parent effectively.
- Mental health challenges: Military parents may experience mental health challenges, such as depression or anxiety, as a result of their service. This can impact their parenting and family life.
- Reintegration challenges: Military parents may struggle to reintegrate into family life after deployments or extended periods away. This can lead to relationship difficulties and other family issues.
- Challenges for Single Mothers: Single mothers in military parenting face unique challenges, such as managing the responsibilities of parenting alone while also coping with the stresses and demands of military life.
Benefits of Positive Parenting for Military Families
Positive discipline is beneficial for a child’s behaviour and emotional growth, while harsh parenting can lead to more behaviour problems. Military parents can use books on positive parenting to teach their children appropriate behaviour and create a low-stress home environment. Children have a basic need for power and the ability to contribute to their families. Positive parenting can help children exercise their free will in positive ways and avoid negative behaviour.
- Helps children adapt to the challenges of military life: Positive parenting helps children develop self-discipline and good behaviour, making it easier for them to adjust to new people, places, and things.
- Results in better academic performance: A parent-child relationship resulting from positive parenting is highly associated with better academic performance.
- Promotes long-term mental health and well-being: Positive parenting has long-term benefits, including better relationships, mental health, and well-being during adulthood.
- Contributes to better functioning of the brain: Positive parenting contributes to better functioning in the brain regions associated with emotions and cognition during the teen years.
- Builds mental, emotional, and social strength: Children of positive parents are more likely to become mentally, emotionally, and socially strong, enabling them to handle any situation in life.
- Fosters healthy family relationships: Positive parenting promotes healthy relationships between family members, which play an important role in the personality development process.
- Results in successful adults: Parental practices that manage or regulate child behaviour, such as enforcing demands and rules with effective disciplinary strategies, have been shown to positively affect children’s development, resulting in more successful adults.
- Reduces stress and increases happiness: Positive parenting results in confident, independent, and self-reliant children, which leads to less parental stress and increased happiness.
- Encourages intrinsic motivation: Positive parenting awakens the natural intrinsic motivation in children to do well, which helps reduce negative behaviour as they grow up.
- Promotes attachment and bonding: Koala parenting, which comes from the idea of attachment parenting, involves frequently holding the child, promoting attachment and bonding between parent and child.
20 Steps of Achieving Positive Parenting for Military Families
- Communicate effectively: Maintaining a strong relationship and providing a sense of security during times of separation is crucial for military parents, and effective communication with their children plays a vital role in achieving these goals. It is important to be clear, specific, and empathetic when communicating with your child. Active listening is also crucial to understand your child’s perspective and validating their feelings. During deployment, regular communication such as phone calls, emails, or video chats can help your child feel connected and reassured. It is also important, to be honest with your child about the situation and communicate any changes in plans or expectations. Finally, be sure to express love and support to your child regularly, even when physically apart. By communicating effectively, you can strengthen your relationship with your child and support them through the challenges of military life. Be clear, specific, and empathetic when communicating with your child. Use active listening to understand their perspective.
- Set clear boundaries: Creating a stable and secure environment as a military parent requires setting clear boundaries with your child. Begin by defining age-appropriate guidelines and expectations for conduct and ensure that they are enforced consistently. Communicate these boundaries clearly and positively, explaining why they are important and how they contribute to your child’s well-being. Ensure that your child understands the consequences of breaking the rules and follows through with appropriate consequences if needed. Remember to be flexible and adaptable as circumstances change, and to maintain open communication with your child to address any concerns or issues that arise. Setting clear boundaries helps your child feel secure, respected, and loved, even during the challenges of military life. Children feel secure when they know what is expected of them. Establish age-appropriate boundaries and stick to them.
- Encourage positive behaviour: Encouraging positive behaviour in your child is crucial for their emotional and social development, especially in a military family. As a military parent, you can encourage positive behaviour by reinforcing good behaviour through praise, rewards, and recognition. When your child follows rules and behaves well, acknowledge their good behaviour with positive reinforcement such as verbal praise or small rewards. Additionally, modelling positive behaviour and values is essential in encouraging your child to follow suit. By setting clear expectations, being consistent with discipline, and offering support and guidance, you can help your child develop a positive attitude and a strong sense of self-esteem. Positive reinforcement helps your child to understand that good behaviour is valued and will earn them positive attention, leading to a more positive and healthy family dynamic. Reinforce positive behaviour with praise, rewards, and recognition.
- Avoid harsh discipline: For military parents, it is crucial to refrain from implementing severe disciplinary measures with their children. Military life can be challenging and overwhelming, leading to frustration and a temptation to resort to harsh disciplinary methods. Instead, try to use non-physical discipline methods such as time-outs, taking away privileges, and positive reinforcement. Establish clear and consistent boundaries with your child and stick to them. Practice patience and empathy when communicating with your child and avoid yelling or using hurtful language. It’s also important to model positive behaviour and values for your child to emulate. Seeking support from other military parents or professionals can also help you learn effective discipline techniques and manage stress. By using positive discipline methods, you can create a supportive and nurturing environment for your child to thrive. Use non-physical discipline methods such as time-outs, taking away privileges, and positive reinforcement.
- Show love and affection: As a military parent, showing love and affection to your child can be challenging due to the demands of military life. However, it is important to make a conscious effort to express love and affection towards your child in order to maintain a strong and healthy relationship. You can show love and affection by spending quality time with your child whenever possible, such as reading a book together or playing a game. Additionally, it’s important to express your feelings verbally through kind words and gestures of affection, such as giving hugs, telling your child that you love them, and showing genuine interest in life. Even when you are away on deployment, you can still maintain a strong connection with your child by sending letters, care packages, and video calls. By showing love and affection towards your child, you can help them feel valued, loved, and supported, even during difficult times. Express love and affection through hugs, words of affirmation, and quality time.
- Spend quality time together: Building a strong bond and maintaining a healthy relationship with your child is crucial for military parents, but it can be difficult to spend quality time with them. One way to spend quality time together is to make the most of the time you have when you are not deployed. Plan special activities that you both enjoy, such as going to the park, playing board games, or cooking a meal together. Take advantage of technology to stay connected with your child during deployment, such as video chats or sending care packages with letters and photos. Keep in mind that quality time doesn’t have to be elaborate or expensive; it’s about being present, engaged, and attentive to your child’s needs and interests. By making quality time a priority, you can build a stronger connection with your child and create memories that will last a lifetime. Schedule regular one-on-one time with your child to bond and connect.
- Foster independence: Encouraging independence in your child is an important part of parenting, regardless of your profession. As your child grows, they need to develop skills that will allow them to make good decisions and take responsibility for their actions. One way to foster independence is to give your child age-appropriate tasks and responsibilities. This could include things like packing their own backpack, doing their own laundry, or helping with meal preparation. Providing opportunities for your child to make decisions and solve problems will also help them become more independent. As a parent, it is important to be patient and allow your child to learn and grow at their own pace. By fostering independence, you can help your child develop important life skills that will serve them well in the future. Encourage your child to make their own decisions and take responsibility for their actions.
- Set a good example: Being a good role model is essential for all parents, but as a military parent, it can be even more critical. Children learn by observing and emulating their parents’ behaviour, and it’s crucial to set a positive example. You can do this by showing respect for others, being responsible, and demonstrating good communication skills. You can also model healthy habits, such as regular exercise, a balanced diet, and getting enough sleep. As a military parent, you can demonstrate the importance of service, duty, and sacrifice through your actions. By setting a good example, you can instil positive values and behaviours in your child that will benefit them throughout their life. Model positive behaviour and values for your child to emulate.
- Be patient: Parenting can be challenging at the best of times, and being a military parent can add extra layers of stress and uncertainty. One important skill that military parents can develop is patience. It’s essential to recognize that children of military parents may experience more frequent changes and disruptions in their lives, which can be overwhelming for them. Patience involves taking the time to understand your child’s emotions, listening actively, and responding with empathy. It means being consistent in your expectations, but also being flexible when necessary. Patience can also involve finding ways to maintain a sense of normalcy for your child during times of transition or deployment. By being patient with your child, you can help them feel more secure, valued, and loved, even during uncertainty. Allow your child to learn and grow at their own pace.
- Encourage physical activity: Encouraging physical activity in children is important for their overall health and well-being, regardless of their parent’s occupation. As a parent, you can set an example by making physical activity a regular part of your family’s routine. This can include going for walks or runs together, playing sports, or doing outdoor activities such as hiking or biking. Additionally, you can enrol your child in sports or physical activity programs on base or in the local community. Making physical activity fun and enjoyable can also help motivate your child to be more active, such as turning exercise into a game or challenge. Ultimately, finding ways to encourage physical activity with your child can promote a healthy lifestyle and strengthen your bond as a family. Promote physical activity and healthy lifestyle habits.
- Support education: Supporting your child’s education is important for any parent, but it can be particularly challenging for military families due to frequent relocations and deployments. One way to support your child’s education is to prioritize communication with their teachers and school administrators. Keep them informed of any upcoming moves or changes in your child’s schedule. Another way to support education is to establish a consistent study routine and provide a quiet, distraction-free space for your child to study. Encourage your child to take advantage of any educational opportunities available on the base, such as tutoring or after-school programs. Finally, stay involved in your child’s education by attending parent-teacher conferences and school events, even if it means taking time off from work or adjusting your schedule. Show interest in your child’s education and encourage learning.
- Provide structure and routine: Children thrive on routine and structure, especially during periods of uncertainty. As a parent, it is important to establish and maintain a regular routine to provide stability and predictability for your child. This can include setting regular mealtimes, bedtime routines, study time, and extracurricular activities. Consistency is key, so try to maintain the routine even during periods of transition or deployment. Creating a visual schedule or calendar can help your child understand what to expect and feel more in control. Be flexible and adjust the routine as needed, but make sure to communicate any changes with your child ahead of time. Providing structure and routine can help your child feel secure and supported, even during the challenges of military life. Children thrive with structure and routine. Establish regular mealtimes, bedtime, and study time.
- Offer support during deployment: Deployment can be a challenging time for families, especially for children who may not fully understand the absence of their parents. It is important to offer support and reassurance during this time. One way to do this is to establish regular communication with your child, whether through phone calls, video chats, or letters. Communicate regularly with your child during deployment and provide emotional support. This can help maintain a sense of connection and provide comfort for your child. It’s also important to involve your child in age-appropriate activities that help them cope with the separation, such as creating care packages for the deployed parent or finding new hobbies to keep busy. Finally, it’s important to validate your child’s emotions and provide a safe space for them to express their feelings, whether it be sadness, anger, or confusion. By offering support and understanding, you can help your child navigate the challenges of deployment and strengthen your family bond.
- Maintain family traditions: Maintaining family traditions is an important aspect of creating a sense of continuity and stability for children. As a military parent, it can be challenging to maintain traditions when there is often a great deal of change and uncertainty. However, by trying to prioritize and adapt traditions, military families can create a sense of familiarity and belonging for their children. One way to maintain traditions is to involve children in the planning process, asking for their input and ideas. It’s also important to be flexible and creative, finding ways to adapt traditions to fit new circumstances. For example, if a military parent is deployed during a holiday, they can still try to connect with their child through video calls or sending care packages. By making traditions a priority and adapting them as necessary, military parents can create a sense of stability and comfort for their children even during times of change. Create and maintain family traditions to provide a sense of stability and continuity.
- Teach problem-solving skills: Teaching problem-solving skills to your child is an important part of their development, regardless of your profession or lifestyle. As a parent, you can help your child develop these skills by encouraging them to think critically and creatively about the challenges they encounter. Begin by identifying the problem and brainstorming possible solutions together. Encourage your child to weigh the pros and cons of each option and consider the consequences of their choices. Encourage them to be flexible and adaptable when facing setbacks and to seek out help and resources when needed. By teaching your child problem-solving skills, you are equipping them with the tools they need to navigate the challenges of life with confidence and resilience. Help your child develop problem-solving skills to manage difficult situations.
- Encourage healthy relationships: Healthy relationships are crucial for children’s social and emotional development. As parents, it is important to encourage and model healthy relationships with our children. This can be especially challenging for military parents who may face frequent deployments or relocations. To foster healthy relationships with your child, prioritize spending quality time together, actively listen to their thoughts and feelings, and teach them communication skills to express their needs and resolve conflicts. Encourage them to participate in social activities and make friends and model positive relationships with your spouse or partner. By creating a supportive and loving home environment, you can help your child develop healthy relationships that will serve them well throughout their lives. Teach your child about healthy relationships and communication skills.
- Provide opportunities for socialization: Providing opportunities for socialization is important for children to develop their social skills and make new friends. This can be especially challenging for military families who often move to new locations and have to leave behind their established social networks. One way to provide socialization opportunities is to enrol your child in community activities such as sports teams, clubs, or volunteer groups. You can also encourage your child to participate in school activities and events. Additionally, connecting with other military families in your community can provide a support system and potential playmates for your child. By actively seeking out socialization opportunities for your child, you can help them form meaningful connections and build social confidence, despite the challenges of military life. Encourage your child to participate in social activities and make friends.
- Manage stress: Managing stress is an important part of parenting, and it can be especially challenging for military families who face unique stressors such as deployment and frequent moves. One way to manage stress with your child is to encourage them to express their feelings and emotions in a healthy way. Encourage them to talk about their concerns and fears and validate their feelings. Engage in physical activities or hobbies together to help relieve stress and maintain a regular routine to provide a sense of stability and predictability. Take breaks when needed, and practice self-care to avoid burnout. Seeking support from other military families, mental health professionals or support groups can also be beneficial for managing stress. By managing stress together as a family, you can help your child develop healthy coping mechanisms and build resilience in the face of adversity. Manage your own stress and help your child develop healthy coping mechanisms.
- Maintain open communication: Maintaining open communication with your child is crucial regardless of your occupation, but it can be particularly challenging for military parents who may be separated from their child for long periods of time. To maintain open communication, it’s important to establish regular communication routines, such as scheduled phone calls, video chats, or emails. It’s also important to actively listen to your child, ask questions, and show genuine interest in their life. Encourage your child to share their thoughts and feelings and be open and honest with them about their own experiences. Remember to stay positive and supportive and avoid sharing details that may worry or upset your child unnecessarily. By maintaining open communication, you can strengthen your relationship with your child and provide them with the emotional support they need. Keep the lines of communication open with your child and encourage them to share their thoughts and feelings.
- Seek support when needed: Being a parent can be challenging, but being a military parent can come with its own set of unique difficulties. It is important to seek support when needed. Whether it’s seeking advice from a friend, reaching out to a mental health professional, or attending a support group, there are resources available to help. The military community offers a variety of resources for military parents, including counselling services, parenting classes, and support groups. These resources can help military parents navigate the challenges of military life and provide a sense of community and support. Seeking support when needed is a sign of strength and can help ensure that military parents are able to provide the best possible care for their children. Don’t hesitate to seek support from family, friends, or professionals when needed.
Military parents face unique challenges, and setting up a positive environment for your child to thrive is essential. It means communicating well, understanding your child’s needs, and doing your best to meet them. Positive parenting for military families is necessary and has proven to improve a child’s life and performance in school. Setting up a routine and structure for your child will help them feel more comfortable, secure, and less stressed. Your child will look for your guidance, and how they can handle the transition can significantly impact their feelings about you coming home after your duty. Communicating well with your child is especially important during this time. They may be excited to welcome you home, but they are adjusting to being back in a new environment and may be unsure of their place. They may also be anxious about your return and the expectations for your time at home. Setting clear expectations, being patient with questions, and allowing them to have their own space can all help promote positive parenting. It also means taking care of yourself as a parent so that you have the energy, patience, and strength to meet those needs.