Last summer, we moved our eight-year-old daughter into her eighth house—a move she did not want to make. Before relocating to our newest post, the Army stationed us in “Mayberry,” the perfect nickname for Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. We lived in a tiny cul-de-sac that somehow housed 18 children among four sets of parents, the elementary school was visible from our front yard, and a playground sat atop the hill across the street; it was our daughter’s dream set up.
Leaving her neighborhood, best friends, school, and home (again!) left our child frustrated with the Army and us. None of this made sense in her world. In the constant transition of military life, kids quickly feel unheard and disregarded, creating the perfect scenario for behavior issues to arise. When we regularly force them to leave behind everything they know and love, it’s natural our kids will start to act out. Unfortunately, most of us act out too, with the stress of a move!
Making sacrifices is a normal part of military life. But, in the constant upheaval, I want our children to feel heard in their sadness, understood in their discontent, and comforted in their loneliness.
One simple way to ensure our kids feel loved in the shuffle of military life is to take them on a date. Here are the benefits of taking your military child on a one-on-one date:
They feel seen and heard when you spend time together doing what they love.
It is easy for military kids to feel unseen and unloved during a service member’s absence for training or deployments. The same emotions surface when moving interferes with their plans and their desires. Taking your child on regular dates and doing activities they enjoy helps ensure your child regularly feels cared for and loved.
They do not have to compete for attention.
On a typical day, kids naturally have to wait for our attention. We are often busy cooking, cleaning, working, talking on the phone, answering an email, running an errand, or helping another child. However, when we are with our children on a date, they become our sole focus.
There are no outside frustrations to battle.
I don’t know about your kids, but mine are young, and they fight! They argue over who is faster, what we should eat for lunch, if the sky is actually blue, which book to read together, and so on. On a date with one child, there are no outside frustrations that cause behavior issues. It’s all about your child and having fun together.
Dating creates the space for them to open up about more profound issues.
I want my kids to feel comfortable talking to me about their feelings and topics that are sensitive and awkward. When kids have time alone with a parent, it creates the perfect opportunity to talk about serious issues if they want to.