Posts Tagged Military Parenting Strategies
By Lisa Daniel
Sept. 8, 2012
With the anniversary of 9/11 upon us, families may be considering how best to commemorate the terrorist attacks of 11 years ago.
Many installations will have remembrance ceremonies, although they likely will be on a smaller scale than for the 10-year anniversary. Regardless of whether you attend such events, how you talk to children about 9/11 is important and especially for military families, according to Dr. Stephen Cozza, associate director of the Center for the Study of Traumatic Stress at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Md.
“With military families, 9/11 is an opportunity to remind children about the meaning of deployments,” Cozza said. “I think we can get a little disconnected from the mission, and having your parent away is hard. Remembering 9/11 draws us back to understanding what we’re doing [in Afghanistan]. It’s helpful and can lend certain meaning to know the military is still involved.”
And, he added, “There is certainly pride in knowing that your parent is working to prevent this from happening again.”
Discussions with children about 9/11 should be age-appropriate and based on information the child needs and is ready for, as well as the family’s personal connection to the tragedy, Cozza said. For those closely impacted by 9/11, children can benefit by memorializing the day with drawings, crafts, or poetry, or by putting up flags or visiting grave sites, he said.
Cozza suggests limiting children’s viewing of graphic 9/11 images on television and the Internet. Replays of the event can be both confusing and distressing, he said.
But as the topic comes up, it is a good chance for parents to reframe some of what children may have heard about the terrorist attacks, and “it’s a good way for them to know they can talk with their parents about tough issues,” Cozza said.
Children can become anxious from warnings about ongoing terrorist threats, so conversations should focus on safety and preparedness, Cozza said. The anniversary is a good time to explain the increased security at military bases, airports and government buildings, along with the message that such measures keep us safe.
“We don’t want to inundate kids with information that might be frightening for them,” he said. “Our job is to listen and be understanding.”
Cozza, an advisor to Sesame Street’s Let’s Get Ready program for disaster preparedness, framed a discussion with young children this way: “There was terrorist event and that is when people do bad things to hurt people without any reason. This is the time for us to remember the people who died.”
“We never want to promise kids that bad things aren’t going to happen,” but they should know that such events are rare, Cozza said.
Children can feel empowered by being prepared, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency has a website especially for kids to help them prepare for all types of emergencies at www.fema.gov/kids.
“That sense of mastery is really important to kids’ sense of emotional competence,” he said.
The website for the Center for the Study of Traumatic Stress includes pages for helping children through traumatic events, as does that of the National Child Traumatic Stress Network, which includes talking to children about mass shootings.
Cozza said parents should resist inclinations to avoid talking about tough topics. “It’s not that we can’t talk to children about these things, it’s finding the right ways to talk to them. In post-disaster situations, we always want to balance our understanding of risk and resilience and strength.”
By Lisa Daniel
It’s not often there is a national call to action over a matter of national security, but that is what’s happening over America’s obesity problem. Luckily, there is no shortage of resources for all of us to do our part in addressing it.
Concerns about the quick rise in obesity – some call it an epidemic — and its potential to harm military readiness are not new. Ever since 100 retired generals and admirals formed the nonprofit organization “Mission: Readiness” and released its landmark 2010 report “Too Fat to Fight” to convince Congress to mandate healthy school lunches, federal officials, at least, have known of the military imperative to reverse the fat trend. The report included the services’ assessment that 75 percent of the nation’s 17- to 24-year-olds do not qualify for military service – mostly due to obesity.
Those concerns were reiterated last month when the Bipartisan Policy Center released its report, “Lots to Lose,” which shows alarming trends not only in recruiting, but also in retention due to overweight problems. The report notes that nutrition concerns for service members and recruits factored into President Harry S. Truman’s decision to mandate the federal school lunch program. The focus then, however, was vitamin deficiencies.
In the past two years, the movement has changed from alarm bells to action as public officials, including Defense Department leaders, carry the issue from Washington to cities, towns and military installations across the country. Last week, First Lady Michelle Obama took her “Let’s Move” campaign to Philadelphia to announce locally-based public-private initiatives that include things like closing a city street to traffic to make a “safe play” place, challenging residents to a city-wide diet, bringing farmers’ markets to low-income areas and holding information campaigns about the nutritional content of foods.
DOD has made similar changes, requiring all of its schools and daycare centers to give children meals emphasizing fruits and vegetables, restrict TV and computer time, ensure daily exercise and ban sweetened drinks. Read more.
Also last week, Charles E. Milam, principal deputy assistant secretary for military community and family programs, met with military food and beverage workers for their annual workshop and directed that they ensure that dining facilities and other installation eateries give healthy choices that also fit into today’s fast-paced culture. Read more. Also, Military OneSource offers free nutrition and fitness training to service members and their families.
In promoting Let’s Move, the first lady often talks about changing American culture toward healthier living. That’s where families come in. As I talk to military spouses and other parents, most agree that one of our toughest challenges is in challenging the idea that “kid-friendly” cuisine is limited to pizza, fries and chicken nuggets. Changing the culture will mean cutting back on the all-too-easy and inexpensive drive-through meals. It will mean cooking healthy and encouraging kids to try new things – even when your child’s friends are over. Changing the culture means challenging the notion that kids need snacks for every event – soccer, Scouts, etc. – even when the event only lasts an hour. And it means asking teachers to discourage parents from bringing cupcakes in the classroom for every birthday, especially when there are 30 kids in a class. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted by ldaniel in Uncategorized on June 13, 2012
By Lisa Daniel
Educators have long known that summer reading bridges the learning gap during the school break between June and September.
With that in mind, Defense Department libraries have kicked off their third annual summer reading program with a challenge to military members and their families to outpace the 10 million minutes they read last summer.
“Last year, we saw a 400 percent increase in participation across the program, and we plan to continue this trend with creative programs that connect with readers of all ages,” said Nilya Carrato, program assistant for the Navy General Library Program.
DOD’s Morale, Welfare and Recreation division is holding open registration at all of its 250 base libraries this summer, said Larra Clark, with the iRead Summer Reading Program. The program is for both children and adults and is flexible for installation libraries to “tailor it in whatever makes sense in their own community,” she said.
Under the theme, ‘Reading is So Delicious!” base libraries may have themed crafts, characters and story time programs for children, and reading challenges and book groups for teens and adults, as some examples, Clark said.
Judy Wiggins, whose husband, Air Force Staff Sgt. Lawrence Wiggins is based at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling in Washington, D.C., has taken part in the program with their two children for the past seven years. The couple’s daughter, Arielle, 11, and son, Acial, 6, have enjoyed meeting at the base library for the program each week of summer break, Wiggins said.
“With the program, the kids read more and they get prizes,” she said. “They express themselves by reading the books they really like. Through the school year, they’re busy with homework and reading [textbooks]. When summer comes, they get to choose what they like.” Read the rest of this entry »
Posted by in Family Matters on April 21, 2011
April 21, 2011
Army reservist Amy McLaughlin had a lot to handle over the course of one year. She and her husband separated, she had to move her family across country, and her son was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome, an autism spectrum disorder.
Fortunately, she said, her children have one of the traits so common among military kids: resilience.
Read about Amy’s challenges and the strength that enables her to overcome them in her article, “Changes and Challenges Create Army Strong Kids.”
By Elaine Wilson
March 9, 2011
Air Force Master Sgt. Rudy Gamez and his wife, Air Force Tech. Sgt. Christina Gamez, are blogging about their separate deployments in Afghanistan in hopes of helping other service members facing their own deployments. Over the past eight months, they’ve been documenting their experiences in the blog, “Double Duty: Know Before You Go.” Blog posts run the gamut from dealing with household packing to the pain of family separation to day-to-day life in a combat zone.
“I want people to understand the emotions of deployments from both sides,” Christina told me during a recent interview. “I’ve been on the other side — left at home with a full-time job and then some, with two kids and no family in driving distance.
“Now I see it from the deployed side,” she added. “I understand the need for a stronger emotional toughness so the deployment doesn’t destroy you.”
For more on this blog, see the American Forces Press Service article: “Air Force Couple Blogs About Deployment.”
Feb. 24, 2011
I’d like to welcome guest blogger Navy Lt. Tiffani Walker. In this blog, Walker writes about how she balances being a mother with being a military member, and the pride she feels in both roles. – Elaine Wilson
Guilt and Motherhood
By Tiffani Walker
Definition of tumultuous: riotous, turbulent, disturbed, moving across country with two small children while husband is 3,000 miles away.
Life has been tumultuous for me lately. I changed my career field and got a new job, I transferred from Washington state to Washington, D.C., I just received my household goods into our new home and I commute almost four hours a day, but all of those things are pretty “normal” for me. What has me really spun up and wrung out is my other job, a mom to two amazing, beautiful germ-filled petri dishes that are my children.
I enlisted in the Navy 12 years ago when life was simpler and I was simpler. I had a sea bag full of things that were given to me and backpack full of things that were mine: a couple of pictures, a toothbrush and enough stuff to write home to mom and dad.
Wherever I went all I had to worry about was a small wallet to hold my brand new ID card and getting myself in to work the next day. Even when I moved, a new roll of toilet paper was provided to me. I can’t remember what I did with all of my free time, but I wish I could find some of it now so I could figure out why I’m not hip anymore. Read the rest of this entry »
Dec. 10, 2010
I’m pleased to introduce a new Family Matters guest blogger, Debbie Nichols, a military mom and grandma. Her daughter, Tech. Sgt. Erin Caldwell, is in the Air Force, and she has two grandchildren, Ivie and Bailey. Debbie cared for her grandchildren when her daughter, a single mom at the time, deployed to Afghanistan, and will continue to support them and her new son-in-law when her daughter deploys again in the coming year.
In this blog, Debbie introduces us to her family and her daughter’s military service, and also passes on some tips about taking on the role of parent again years after her last child left the roost.
By Debbie Nichols
I am a married working mother with two grown children and two grandchildren. I was raised in a civilian lifestyle, totally unaware of what military life was like.
When our daughter joined the Air Force in the 90s, life in the military was different from today. At that time she was married and planning on having a family. She moved around to different military bases, but her job kept her in the United States. She went to job trainings, but deployment was not one of her concerns.
In 2006, our daughter divorced, and she transferred to a base so she could to be close to our family. She was now a single parent and had to make decisions about who would take care of her children if something happened to her. She asked my husband and me if we would be the guardians to her children, and of course we said yes.
When she transferred to Luke Air Force Base, Ariz., in 2007, her career changed and she told us she was deployable. I told her not to worry, that we would help in every way possible. As a mom you are always reassuring your children, and I really did not think twice about what deployment really entailed. Our daughter had attended job trainings in the past that took her away from home two to eight weeks at a time. We helped take care of the children, but for limited amounts of time. Since she always lived out of state and I worked, we were limited in how much we could do.
Then, in December 2007, my daughter called and said she had received orders to go to Afghanistan and had 30 days to prepare. She informed me that I needed to schedule a day to come pick up her children.
I was in shock! I thought, “Oh my gosh, she is leaving.” My husband and I will be our granddaughters’ guardians and we are going to parents again, raising 6- and 10-years-olds. What’s more, we were going to have to move the children from Arizona to California. Read the rest of this entry »
Just as spouses must prepare for their servicemembers’ reintegration after a year-long deployment, children also need help preparing for mom or dad’s return.
At Fort Stewart-Hunter Army Airfield, Ga., the Army Community Service has taken the popular puppet show “Sgt. Rocky’s Neighborhood,” which prepares children for deployment, to a new level to help them cope with homecomings, too. Read about this great program in “Reintegration: ACS Puppet Program Prepares Children for Homecoming.”
by Elaine Wilson, AFPS
Aug. 18, 2010
I wrote a blog recently about my lengthy, and sometimes painful, house-hunting efforts. I’m happy to say that stage of my move has come to an end.
My husband and I now are the proud owners of a small, five-bedroom house in Maryland. Now it’s on to the actual move, and the plethora of minutiae that dominate every house purchase, from gathering financial documents to setting up house inspections.
Due to the time-consuming settlement process, they’re almost certain to miss a few weeks of school, but I’m feeling the time crunch nonetheless. I need to immediately start gathering school supplies and establishing school-time routines and, perhaps most importantly, readying them for a new school.
They’ve only been at their current school for the past two years, but that’s plenty of time to create deep bonds and lasting friendships. I’m hoping they’ll feel positive about this next move, a more permanent one for us, rather than sad about what they’re leaving behind. Read the rest of this entry »
March 10, 2010
Two recent studies have highlighted the importance of strong support systems, particularly for adolescent children. I wrote about these studies today in the American Forces Press Service article, “Support Helps Children Cope With Deployments.”
Anita Chandra, a behavioral scientist at Rand Corp., and Leonard Wong, a research professor from the Army War College, explained the findings of these studies during testimony before the House Armed Services Committee yesterday.
The two studies focused on military children ages 11 to 17 and both showed that children with a strong non-deployed parent or caregiver and a solid support system have a better ability to cope with deployments, Chandra and Wong told legislators. Read the rest of this entry »