One of the most difficult challenges of a Permanent Change of Station (PCS) is the effect on your children. Relocation brings on a number of worries, emotions and concerns for kids, no matter their age. As parents, try to paint the move in a positive light, so that your children will see it as an exciting family adventure rather than a negative or scary experience.
Children need to know that they are still loved and cared for. Listen to their concerns and find ways to achieve emotional stability, no matter what other stress you are experiencing. Try to maintain some kind of routine and family structure while relocating. Established routines and traditions will help your kids to feel safe and secure despite the many changes that are taking place. Consider taking a course, such as Coping with Deployments: Psychological First Aid for Military Families, to strengthen your ability to deal with relocation or deployment.
Allow your kids to be involved in various aspects of the move, from packing up their rooms to exploring the new neighborhood. Military.com offers a list of helpful reading for military children and families that are relocating.
The Military Impacted Schools Association (MISA) focuses on the impact of moving on the children of military personnel by working with school districts that have a high concentration of military kids. On their website, you can find a number of articles and resources for everything from online tutors to counseling. Be sure to read their parent/student checklist for transitioning to a new school and community.
You can find a number of websites to help you deal with all aspects of your military move. One of the best is Military OneSource. The moving section of this site features tips on homebuying or renting, international relocation, adjusting to a new community, new jobs for spouses, dealing with stress and much more. In addition to the online support, military members and their families can consult with Military OneSource experts on the telephone (1-800-342-9647), by email or in person.
Another excellent resource for coping with your move is MilitaryHOMEFRONT. This website offers service members and their families a number of invaluable tools. It takes you through the step-by-step process of military relocation and also provides customizable calendars, checklists and much more. Their Moving 101 section tells you what to expect and who to contact at your Relocation Office in order to make your move as easy and efficient as possible.
After moving, it's important to immerse yourself in your new community and connect with new people. Making new friends can often be difficult for both adults and children. By participating in school and community functions, you can find families with similar interests and be on the road to making new friends. Connect with other military families in your community who will understand what you are experiencing. Blue Star Family Chapters, Faith Deployed and a number of other organizations can help you connect with other military families in your area. Check out this list from Operation We Are Here for local connections and support.
Though making new friends is important, you also don't want to lose touch with friends and family back home. Through the wonders of technology, it's easy to stay connected, no matter where you move. Use video chat services, social network sites or start a blog to help stay in touch with loved ones. With the wide range of resources available, both online and in person, the nomadic life of military families can become a little easier.
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