By Michelle Kaye, LPC
“Parents are the ultimate role models for children. Every word, movement and action has an effect. No other person or outside force has a greater influence on a child than the parent.” ~ Bob Keeshan (aka “Captain Kangaroo”), WWII Marine Corps Veteran.
Although we often like to blame the media, the kids at school (“Other People’s Kids”) the movies and music that is popular, the kids in the neighborhood, etc., etc., at the end of the day, our kids actually learn the most from us: their parents and family members. They watch us; they listen to us; they are paying attention to what we watch on TV, what music we listen to, how we speak to our friends and family members, and – even when begging for a candy bar at the checkout line – they are still hearing how we speak to the checkout clerks at the grocery store and to servers at restaurants. Even when we think they are “too young to understand,” they still hear our tone of voice, watch our faces, and feel our tension. Our kids are like “tuning forks” to us, and they pick up EVERYTHING. They are also a lot smarter than we sometimes give them credit for.
This is one of the reasons that I am passionate about working with the entire military/veteran family. It’s like trying to figure out how an unknown machine works, especially when it seems like the machine is not working up to its full potential. And when a family discovers – or remembers – which part needs extra attention, which part needs to be repaired first, and realizes that the machine works best when it’s actually plugged in, THAT’S when the magic of healing begins to happen.
Although the talents and skills of many military service members and veterans are numerous and even astounding in how they know how to create, repair, and maintain All Things Military, many of us are not taught how to do that same thing with our relationships, especially in our relationships with our children. So it’s a good thing that there is guidance and assistance and that there are resources created especially for the unique needs of military families!
As a counselor who has been serving active duty military service member and veteran families – both children and adults – for several years, and also as a member of MCEC (Military Child Education Coalition), I have discovered many relevant and appropriate resources for our families.
We all get so busy with the day-to-day activities of life, it can be challenging to know which resources have been vetted and which might (or might not) be appropriate for our kids, and we can get easily overwhelmed with the amount of information available when we Google search anything. With that in mind, please find a list of resources below that are recommended by MCEC, that have been approved for use on military bases, and that have been passed along by other counselors, educators, and child/youth professionals that are also experienced in working with the unique needs of military and veteran families.
As my disclaimer, I’ll quote my Mom who would say,“take the best and forget the rest,” meaning not all of these resources may resonate with you, so if a certain book or website doesn’t work for you and the way you parent, you can simply leave it behind and go on to the next one. Every family has its trials and errors: what works beautifully for one family could fall flat on its face with a different family.
At the end of the day, please remember how much your kids look to you for their values, their behavior, their life choices. Yes, even the teenagers who you think despise everything about you (it’s in their “job description” as a teen to make fun of you and pretend that you are the biggest geek on the planet for a few years, but they generally get over it if you’re doing a good job) still watch and learn from you, so please make your own choices wisely and conscientiously.
Military Child Education Coalition
Military Kids Connect
Sesame Street Educational Series
The Arthur Show (PBS) – The show now includes a character in the series that is a military kid!
Love and Logic Parenting
Love and Logic Parenting – Solutions for kids with special needs
National Child Traumatic Stress Network (for traumatized children)
United Through Reading (for deployed parents)
FREE Academic Tutoring (for kids and/or service members/veterans and/or their spouses!)
For the family:
The 5 Love Languages: Military Edition
We Serve Too: A Child’s Reunion Book by Kathleen Edick
Big Boss Brain: Learning About Traumatic Brain Injuries by Shannon Maxwell
Our Daddy is Invincible! by Shannon Maxwell
Finding My Way: A Teen’s Guide to Living with a Parent Who Has Experienced Trauma by Michelle Sherman, PhD.
My Story: Blogs by 4 Military Teens by Michelle Sherman