What’s It Like to Be a Teen in a Military Family?

Military parents and their young kids often get the lion’s share of attention and support. But don’t overlook the family's teenagers.

Posted in , Apr 2, 2018

Support teenagers in military families.

When most people think of kids in a military family, they think of the young ones. But since April is designated as the Month of the Military Child, I’d like to focus on the teens that have to deal with the stress of having a military parent. These older kids not only face the worry of having a parent in potentially dangerous situations, they also take on a support role in the family. 

When our oldest son was in the military, his two younger brothers were both teens. Knowing where he was and what he was doing affected them in ways I hadn’t considered. They both retreated somewhat from their respective peer groups. One of them in particular was easily irritated by what he thought of as the immature behavior of his friends.

The truth was, their older brother’s circumstances had brought the reality of death and injury into their world—and it was a scary thing. 

Fortunately, we were members of a close-knit faith community and they came to our rescue. Our friends helped us pray for our younger sons, as well as the one serving in the military. But beyond that, they acted. They reached out to our boys, providing mentoring, friendship and safe places to discuss what they were feeling.

Our oldest son’s friends were particularly helpful. Several of them stepped into the surrogate big brother role and filled a gap that their father and I couldn’t.

I encourage you to look at the military families in your community. Don’t just serve the parents or the younger children; reach out to the teens. They may appear to be independent, but they could use help and recognition as well.    

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