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Teens already go through a range of emotions during adolescence. When you throw in a military deployment, it may add more stressors and difficulty. When talking to your teen about deployment, it's important to talk as a whole family. Your support and teamwork help strengthen your family's resilience so you can successfully navigate through deployment.
Here are eight ways you can help:
1. Explain the why
Be as transparent as appropriately possible and make sure your child understands why one parent is leaving, why things will change and why it's important to have cooperation and open communication for all family members.
During the conversation, remember to emphasize the positive changes. Your teen is taking on more responsibility, not more chores.
3. Encourage more quality time
Before deployment, have the teen spend as much quality time with the deploying parent as everyone's schedules allow. During deployment, encourage family quality time with the remaining parent to open all channels of communication.
4. Give your teen some space
Teens are already more independent. Give them some time and space to cope, but always let them know that you are available for anything. It's also beneficial to establish a relationship with teachers and counselors so they can let you know if they notice any changes at school.
5. Suggest different coping activities
Activities like writing in a journal, exercising or small group activities can help military teens alleviate stress. Suggest that they start a goal that can be completed when the deployed parent comes home. This will help keep them focused.
As military family members anticipate their loved one's deployment, it's important to remember that you are all in this together. The love, support and communication that you share are the keys to making it through deployment as a strong family unit.