We all remember that first moment holding our babies in our arms. Their tiny little fingers clutching us. They needed us for everything. For 18 years or more, we’ve had them within arms reach; going to school events, cheering them on at sports games, staying up late to help with classroom projects, feeding groups of kids after school or on the weekends. Then, they come home from school, their job or college and they’ve decided they want to serve a cause greater than themselves and join the military.
“Wait, what?!” That means they will be gone, off to boot camp or basic training for 8 up to 13 weeks. That means they may have to travel to foreign lands, fight in wars, be in harm’s way. Guess what? It’s time to let go. Letting go won’t be easy but with some support tips below, we hope it will make it just a little bit easier.
KEEP BUSY The busier you are, the less you have time to worry about your recruit. Find a place to volunteer your time. Maybe it will be your church, school, community, etc. Whatever it is, time spent busy means time not spent worrying.
WRITE AS OFTEN AS YOU CAN Moral support can’t be emphasized enough. How can you do that while they’re at boot camp? WRITE! Recruits want as many letters as they can. They love hearing the stories from home, sports scores, etc. It helps them to stay connected to family/friends and escape their situation, even if for a few minutes. In your letters send photos of family/friends, events you’ve attended, etc., the visual really helps them escape for a moment. Care packages are nice too but we recommend getting the go-ahead from your recruit before doing so. Learn how you can use Sandboxx to send Letters to your recruit during basic training, here.
DON’T PANIC, NO NEWS IS GOOD NEWS Trust that your recruit is going to be okay. Let them know you have confidence in their abilities and you know they can do this. Don’t worry when you don’t get a letter right away. During the first few weeks of boot camp, they’re adjusting to a very rigid, demanding schedule. They only get one hour at night for downtime so those first few weeks they’re learning the ropes. As soon as they have the time, they will write to you. That being said, not all recruits are the best writers. Just know that your letters mean more to them than you know.
REMEMBER TO BE OPSEC/PERSEC/SOCIAL MEDIA SAVVY Please don’t share their address over your social media pages, you never know who is watching. Be careful what social media pages you comment on about your recruit, especially if it’s their Company or platoon page. You never know if a drill instructor is part of that group and watching. You can certainly ask questions but don’t make comments that might end up getting your recruit in trouble.
ENJOY THE RIDE Your child will now be moving to all different parts of the country and world. Take the opportunity to visit and explore their different locations. Meet their friends, see their world, because the military lifestyle is a whole different machine. Remember to be understanding that now they can’t make vacation plans 6 months ahead of time. Things can change in a heartbeat so be ready to go with the flow and support them at every turn.
Boot camp is an adjustment not just for the recruits, but for parents and families as well. Take some time to remember these things when you start feeling overwhelmed. If you are already a military parent and have some suggestions, please feel free to share your tips below too. Remember, they can’t stay our babies forever. We have to let go but trust me, they’ve got this!