Childhood, with its many joys, freedoms and sweet memories, is also marked by challenges that stretch our youth, shaping them into the men and women they will someday become. Some of those challenges are universal – school, peer pressure, conflicting demands on time, self esteem and cyber risks, just to name a few. It can be a challenging time as kids learn to navigate the waters of childhood, adolescence and then the teenage years, trying to come through as strong and unscathed as possible.
Children of Special Forces Soldiers not only face these same challenges, they also carry the extra burden of worry, uncertainty and even inconsistency that comes with the cycle of deployment and redeployment. These youth need the strength, guidance and love of caring adults and peers more than ever. Whether you are the parent in a Special Forces Family, part of the extended family or simply a friend, there are some important steps you can take to help the kids of Green Berets be as strong and resilient as possible.
Be honest: Take time to talk as much as appropriate about the deployment. How long will it be? When will their parent come home? What worries are you feeling that are appropriate to share? Strength often comes in understanding that we’re not alone through the challenges we face. This is true for youth as much as it is for adults. It’s important for kids to know that you’re being honest with them and also that you can relate to some of what they are feeling.
Communication is key: It’s no small secret that oftentimes kids are reluctant to talk about their feelings. That’s okay, but they need to know that they have people in their lives that they can trust who are ready and willing to listen when they want to talk. Listening is a huge part of helping these youth. Be ready to lend an ear when they feel like talking. Encourage them to express what they are feeling in whatever way they feel most comfortable. And be sure to make time to talk about the deployed parent frequently.
Keep a routine: As much as children and teens seem to love to push boundaries, what helps them to truly thrive is having routines and known expectations. Continue to set clear boundaries and follow consistent routines. It can be tempting to make exceptions, knowing the challenges they are facing, but predictability lends itself to comfort and strength in difficult times.
Help them serve others: Many professionals agree that one of the best ways to overcome our own difficult situation is to serve others. Whether it be helping in the community, at school, or just being a good neighbor or friend, you can help children of Special Forces Families remain strong by offering opportunities for them to lift and strengthen others.
Remind them they are loved: This may be one of the most important things you can do to help the children of our Green Berets. Kids need frequent reminders that they are cared about and that they matter. Take time to tell and show them how much they are loved and that they are going to be okay.
At Special Forces Charitable Trust, our mission is to support the families of Green Berets through programs designed to enhance the health and well-being of our Special Forces Soldiers and their Families. You can support the children of these Families by supporting SFCT in this mission. Consider contributing to one of our programs designed to provide education, motivation and strength to these Families.