Let me just say, as a mom my first reaction is NOOOOOOO. However, I know that loses its power the closer to 18 they grow. I decided to do a little research. I turned to my husband and said, “Hey, if we had a military minded child, how would you as a dad, guide him?” The following conversation occurred:
“You’re always right no matter what” came the quick reply. “What? Who is?” I asked confused. “You, the parent” my husband said. “Okay what else?” I ask, totally not getting his first comment. He responds just as quickly, “Do what you say, when you say it and how you say to do it.” Now I’m annoyed. He’s not helping me. So I ask, “Really? What the heck does that even mean?” He looks at me annoyed and says, “You asked me about boot camp, which is instant obedience to orders.“ “How does that help me with this blog?” I demand. “That’s your deal sweetheart.”
So I’m on my own.
We happen to have a child who has expressed the desire to go into the military. In pondering my husband’s seemingly not so helpful response, it actually became illuminating.
Do I set the expectations, hold my children to them and enforce the consequence when our rules are ignored or broken? Umm, maybe.
Do I have a set schedule, routine and standard of living that we strictly adhere to? Umm, no, no I do not.
Am I concerned about the time when my husband retires and is home to see what REALLY goes on? Yes, yes I am.
So what does this have to do with raising a child who has a desire to serve in the military? Well, it makes me realize that just because they know what cammies, boot bands and military I.D. cards are doesn’t mean they have a real understanding of what it’s like to actually BE an active duty member. Dad got up early, came home late and sometimes was gone for weeks or months at a time. We all know it’s so much more than that.
If you have the opportunity to tour any of the military academies, do so! Especially once your child is in high school and that all important GPA starts growing. We have been to The United States Naval Academy and they give a great briefing and tour. During the summer of students’ junior year, they have a chance to spend a week in Annapolis to get a good idea about what they will be facing. It’s called the summer seminar and they have to apply. If the Navy or Marine Corps isn’t the desire of their little cammie clad heart, then don’t forget about the other service academies.
- The Unites States Air Force Academy
- The United States Military Academy West Point
- The United States Coast Guard Academy
Use your network
Odds are you have more resources than you realize. If there is a particular job specialty or an aspect of life as an active duty service member you want your child to be aware of, you’re going to know someone who can talk to your child. Exposing your child to a different view of military life will help your child decide if he or she is suited for this lifestyle or perhaps should pursue other interests.
Helping our children understand that adherence to the Uniform Code of Military Justice does not have the wiggle room that adherence to mom’s code of conduct may have is a good place to start as well. I don’t remember Marines ever negotiating time out…
Our one son who shows an interest in military service also shows some of the characteristics of a good leader. He is responsible, a self-starter and has a keen eye for detail. He likes order and having expectations laid out and made clear. As a 14-year-old young man, he bucks authority if he thinks it’s ridiculous, he expresses his anger as only a 14-year-old boy can and he thinks he knows more than his commanding officer, me. So if he REALLY wants to pursue the military lifestyle, enlisted or officer, then a few areas come to mind we need to work on.
So far, out of six children, he is the only one to truly express what I consider to be a real interest in following in his dad’s footsteps. So don’t worry that if you dress them in cammies and let them play capture the flag, they are going to run out and join the minute they turn 18. But if you do see the propensity to lean towards military service, it’s our job to educate them and prepare them for life as the one wearing the rank.