By Lisa Daniel
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON (5/2/12) – It’s that time of year again when so many military families are starting their relocation plans – and dealing with the fallout from kids who would rather stay put.
As a parent of young children, I often think if I ever want a change of scenery, i.e., moving to a new area, I have a window of opportunity – before the kids become teenagers. That’s because I remember vividly my own 14-year-old inner voice screaming “no way, not now, not ever” at the slightest hint that my parents might upend my comfort zone with a move. But I don’t have the weight of the U.S. military behind me, and they didn’t either.
Military kids don’t have that luxury of influencing a family’s decision to move, which is among the many reasons the Defense Department deemed April the Month of the Military Child – to celebrate military children’s shared sacrifice for the nation.
While even one relocation is traumatic for most teens, military kids have done it multiple times. But that doesn’t necessarily make it easier, as Karen Morgan knows firsthand.
Morgan is a senior program analyst with the department’s Military Community and Family Policy office in the Pentagon. But she also was a Marine Corps wife for 25 years, and the couple has two children.
“Moving anywhere can be traumatic for anyone, but it’s doubly traumatic with kids,” she told me recently.
Morgan mostly remembers their relocations fondly – as a family bonding experience, and a chance to experience new areas together. But there were hard times, too, like when they moved in the summer and couldn’t find other children to play with, and when their daughter left for college in Virginia while they still were stationed in Okinawa.
Now Morgan uses those experiences to give insight into a DOD website designed to help military kids with their parents’ many relocations. Military Youth on the Move has tabs for teens, pre-teens, and younger kids to help with everything from preparing for college, to dating, to making new friends.
There is a “Moving Out” section with advice on packing, saying ‘goodbye,’ and keeping in touch, and a “Get Help” tab offers advice on dealing with a parent’s deployment, divorce, and bullying.
Moving is never easy, but sites like Military Youth on the Move certainly help.