P.C.S, or Permanent Change of Station, happens more frequently to some rather than others. In my case we have moved three times in the past three or so years. I’ve moved from New Mexico to North Carolina, North Carolina to Colorado and now Colorado to Italy. It’s a lot to handle, but thankfully I’ve been blessed to have understanding in why we move so much. However, children and young teenagers have a very hard time coping with and understanding the frequent moves.
As parents we can talk with other parents, or adults, about our children going to a new school, how to get them to understand and ways to help. However, we don’t always get to see the child’s point of view and get their side. One of my good friends grew up as an Air Force brat. She moved all around the world, and now as a military wife she is experience the “adult” side of moving.
When I first met J, she had such a wonderful personality and a contagious smile. She was always in such good spirits and you couldn’t help but want to be around her. What I didn’t know was that she had a history of going from school to school due to her family PCSing. When I talked to her about her frequent moves as an adolescent she had told me, “Going to a new school was always hard. Every school is different and each community has a different way of communicating with new kids.” She also explained that she would usually make some type of friend right of the bat, but it took almost four months to really find that group of friends she had a lot in common with. As she got older she was able to understand that everything happens for a reason and that she was where she was for a reason.
When you’re young, it’s hard moving. It’s hard on everyone in the family. You don’t always like where you’re going or where you’re at, nor do you understand why you had to move there but the way J explained it, “EVENTUALLY you’re able to look back and appreciate each experience.” That’s a good way to look at it and explain it to your kiddos, right?
She wasn’t the only person who struggled with the moves. Remember, as parents you have to help make the BIG, unwanted and stressful decisions that can potentially affect the entire family. I absolutely love it when she said, “Tough times can strengthen relationships, if you choose. I really thank my Mom’s commitment to God for keeping our family together and closer during each move. Praying, everyday, makes a difference when you move. My mom really encouraged me to ‘make new friends but keep the old.’ My dad gave me confidence whenever I spoke about feeling unsure of anything. My mom once told me that ‘as long as mommy and daddy are ok, the children will be just fine.’ Looking back I know that no matter how I was feeling, as long as they were okay, I was okay too.” When you really think about it, no one really loves change. Parents, it can be so incredibly stressful, but try and be okay for your relationships…whether that be for your spouse or for your kids. YOU ARE STRONG!!!
For all you, parents or kiddos, looking or a bit of advice…”The easiest way to make good friends is to be open to others and to be yourself. Sometimes the best friends are the ones you never expect! And being yourself includes continuing to do what you love doing.” Being involved in activities, like music and sports, are always a huge help. Don’t forget it’s never going to be easy, it’s always going to have a bit of a challenge. Hang in there and give it time.
Parents, do not forget your local base has resources to help you help your kiddos adjust and cope with the many changes the military life entails. Reach out if you need help. The best support group is the group that’s been in your shoes and that IS in your shoes. Talk with your kids and see how they’re doing…how they’re REALLY doing. Be an active listener and repeat back to them what they tell you so they know you’re listening.
Remember, you’re in this together and always try and make the absolute BEST out of any situation.