April 30, 2015
By Taylor Basilio When your significant other deploys, it’s a difficult time that changes your life in an unbelievable number of ways. However, when a parent deploys, it’s all of that and more. Teens are especially affected by having a missing parent due to deployment. Middle and high school is a huge period of transition, and any change dramatically changes their day-to-day life. They are left without one half of their parents—a missing role model and confidant. As the at-home parent, you become even more responsible for making sure the deployment is as easy on them as possible. This can be tough given that you aren’t used to being a single parent, but thankfully, there are countless ways to make this easier on everyone—you, your teen, and the deployed parent. Below are a few of our favorite ways to help keep your teen busy and in good spirits during the deployment. Best of all, it helps the deployment fly by for them. Before you all know it, your significant other and their parent will be home and back in your arms! 1.Plan a day trip. This is especially fun if your teen is learning to drive and can help make the journey. For every month of the deployment, have your teen pick a place they want to visit (something within a day’s driving distance) and use the weekend to make the trip happen! 2. Teach them to contribute and help take care of the family. A great idea —especially if you have more than one teen or child—is to have your kids take turns planning, preparing, and making dinner each week. You can do this for one day each week, or you can pick one week during the month where your kids are fully in charge. Whatever timeline you all agree on, make sure that dinner is fun and family-oriented. Blast some music and dance around the kitchen while you chop veggies! 3. Write down thoughts in a journal. Regardless of what you plan and hope for during a deployment, there are going to be times when your teen is just having a rough day. By keeping a journal, they can remember each good day as it passes and express their feelings during the bad ones. 4. Get fit together. Maybe running is your family’s thing, and in that case, training together for a 5k (or even a half or full marathon!) or running 50-100 miles during the deployment are a fun ideas. These will keep you active and busy on days where you might otherwise have nothing going on. If you don’t love running, try swimming, family volleyball games, or simply going for evening walks in each other’s company. 5. Don’t forget about the extra curriculars! Getting involved in school is a great way to pass the time, and there’s an option for everyone! Whether you love sports, chess, journalism, ROTC, or something different all together, now is the perfect time for your teen to become a part of what his or her school as to offer. Is a program missing that your teen wishes their school had? Encourage them to create it! 6. Open a savings account and try to reach a goal by the end of deployment. Whether your teen works part-time or just helps with odd jobs around the house, use this time to teach them about money—how to earn, how to save, and how not to overspend. That advice is worth its weight in gold! By following these tips, you can be sure your teen will appreciate you helping them make it through a difficult time. And who knows—you may even start a new tradition your service member will love to come home to!