Every move, my kids are a little bit older making each transition different for them. As the years go on, there is a delicate balance between the muscle memory of moving and being sensitive as my kids struggle with losing close friends. I don’t want to get into PCS autopilot mode and become indifferent to the vulnerabilities they face. I want to directly hear and address their concerns, worries and excitement about an upcoming move. As a family we start asking questions early when we know we are about to uproot. To better understand and anticipate how they are feeling, here are a few questions and conversations starters we like to use.
- Are you excited about our move? What is one thing you are looking forward to? These two questions are a great place to start. Admittedly, it is an easier question to ask younger kids who aren’t dreading moving, but it tells you their gut reaction to the news and can be a starting point.
- Let’s talk about what our life will look like there. I love this one because it deals with expectations. Having very clear expectations helps everyone visualize what reality will be like, and, I believe, better prepares you for the future. We like to talk specifically about what my spouse’s job will be like. If his position will include time away from family, we can prepare our kids to spend a little less time with dad. Additionally, we can discuss what my life will look like, what their schools will be, and if we know other families there.
- What is something you want to do at the next duty station? This is a good follow-up conversation to the first question, especially if they aren’t excited. We like to research the area and come up with something everyone in the family will enjoy doing. That way, we can all be excited in our own way. Check out Military INSTALLATIONS to get to know more about your new community.
- What would you like to change about your room? What are you most excited about in the new house? This is another good visualizing conversation. For us currently, this conversation is about how our kids will each have their own bedrooms in our next house and how they want to decorate them. It also revolves around the fact the kids are very excited the house has stairs, ha. And we always like to bring up what are some good things we will like about our new house, and some things we will miss about our current house. Exposing the good and the bad just sets the tone for honest communication
- What are your concerns? It is always important to address concerns before moving. It helps us have compassion for each other when we understand what part of the move might be more challenging on a certain family member. We can help alleviate some anxiety or stress about the move by talking it through as a family too. We certainly don’t put pressure on ourselves to answer all the concerns but voicing them and listening to each other is the most important part for everyone. Additionally, it teaches our kids to think through their emotions and start working through their conflicts with the move.
In conclusion, communication is a very important part of any PCS. If nothing else, these conversations show that as parents, we care. Regardless of their age, kids need to know during these stressful times we are listening to them, and they are a part of the process. How we handle it directly affects how they learn to deal with stressful situations. I will continue learning from my kids, and I know they will teach me a thing or two during this upcoming PCS.
And if talking things through doesn’t come easily for your family, that’s common enough! Check out these tools for military families from THRIVE or contacting the local school liaison where you are and where you are going for support.
Contact Military OneSource for a consultation to learn more about resources available to support your family during a PCS.