Magazine article The Exceptional Parent

R&R-Return and Reunion

Magazine article The Exceptional Parent

R&R-Return and Reunion

Article excerpt

In the September edition of Exceptional Parent magazine, I wrote the article, "Coming Home Different." That particular article was geared toward teens of returning soldiers, suggesting tips to make the transition easier for you, your parents, and your family. Amid my suggestions, I promised that I would be back with a second article. Here, in "R&R--Return and Reunion," I again concentrate on YOU and YOUR specific needs, this time when reuniting with your parent.

While conducting my research for R&R, I found out both good and bad news. Which would you like first? Good! The good news is that I had plenty of materials to leaf through regarding this topic. (challenges experienced by teens of deployed and returning soldiers). This fact means two things: 1) that many of us recognize that children and teens, in addition to adults, feel the effects of war and 2) that there are available resources to help and support you and your family during this adjustment process. That's all good to know. So, what's the bad news (not really bad, just a fact)? The challenge is not easy, and it requires some more homework on your part. I have actually done most of the research for you. I've listed some very supportive Web sites; your homework is to check them out.

Although we all don't admit it, it feels good to be acknowledged and appreciated. Recently, Sesame Street and the USO (United Service Organizations) collaborated to create "The Sesame Street Experience," a show developed to help young children cope with parents' deployment. (Now, don't get offended; I'm not calling you a young child. Just hear me out.) In an article written by Samantha Quigley, called, "America Supports You: Elmo Visits Military Kids to Help With Deployment Stress," Edward A. "Ned" Powell, USO president and chief executive officer, says, "Why not say thank you to the littlest members of the armed forces?" While you're not the "littlest" members, I would like to do the same for you. I'm not as cute as Elmo, but I believe that teens of servicemen and servicewomen should be acknowledged for their roles as military family members. It is not an easy role, and I commend you for facing the challenge and doing your best.

With that in mind, let's get back to your needs. Your parent was deployed, you impatiently awaited their return, now he or she is home and everything is just perfect, right? Well, not everything, I'm sure. Perhaps you just got used to the routine of deployment, and now you must switch gears once again. The reality is that your parent probably changed during deployment and that you probably have, too. You may have changed physically (gotten taller, stronger), and you most likely changed emotionally as well. You may have matured during that time, out of necessity, and become more independent. Your mom or dad remaining at home with you needed additional help, so being a young adult, you chipped in. In addition to the normal teen issues, you had to deal with a teenage "tour of duty," and it wasn't easy. Below are some ideas to help you cope with your new challenge--return and reunion.

Expressing Your Needs

There are many things that you need in order to be at your best (no, not a Wii[TM]--sorry.) Your immediate needs are shelter, food, love, and good health. Adding to the list, positive communication, and good relationships and experiences would be nice. I am confident that your family provides your basic needs, so you are already ahead of the game. Let's concentrate on the additional needs during this reunion period.

I'm certain that you have expectations for your family once a tour is over. Unless your parents are mind readers, there's only one way for them to understand those expectations--tell them! It's usually extremely easy to talk to your friends. As a matter of fact, you're doing it all the time. Through texting, phoning, and instant messaging, you and your friends maintain a close relationship and are in the know. …

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