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Life Lessons of a Military Wife (overseas in Europe!): My teenager said she is NOT moving overseas! Now what!

Life Lessons of a Military Wife (overseas in Europe!)

My goal here is to make your life easier, especially those who are in the unique situation of being a military spouse. Yes...I've been around...but in a good way...and hopefully can share those tips, tricks and shortcuts with you too. I've been on this military bus for over 40 years now. My goals in life are to have a well-run home, few money worries, well adjusted children, money socked away and whatever happiness I can scoop out of life.

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After life as an Army brat, being in the Army myself and marrying a soldier, I can honestly say I have a bucket full of life lessons I can share to help you make your everyday life easier and enlightening. Don't waste your time making unnecessary mistakes and benefit from others who have come before you on your journey through life.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

My teenager said she is NOT moving overseas! Now what!

Obviously you have a typical teenager!  I can't think of any teen who was happy about moving!  Think about what it was like for you at that age....obstinate, feeling like you are the only one feeling this way and still believing you should be the center of all attention.  Honestly, that's what I was like as a teen, and you'd be hard pressed to find many teens who don't exhibit at least some of that behavior or mentality.  So what do you do?

Many overseas schools now have a sponsorship program called, S2S (Student 2 Student).  Email or the call the new school and find out more about it.  Not all DODEA (overseas and a few stateside) have this program in place, but it is worth it to ask.  If they have it, they will assign a sponsor to your child...someone they can correspond with of their own age.  They may also send you some local materials if you ask.  Be sure your husband contacts his own sponsor and asks for some local tourist brochures too.  My kids loved leafing through them before our arrival.

Since I am over here in Europe, I'm going to talk mainly about Europe.  Europe is not such an overprotective society like in the are more free to do the things they go out with friends on the metro and drink can drink beer at 16 over here...maybe not things you want to hear as a parent, and you still have to set your own ground rules of what you are comfortable with....but while I was in Stuttgart, many teens there would take the trains downtown and hang out in the cafes and beer gardens and go shopping on their own.  They just had more freedom...maybe that will get her interested?  Plus, the schools have so many programs where you can travel all over Europe with other kids...whether it is for sports, a club or just during the school holidays, where Morale, Welfare & Recreation (MWR) or the schools will plan chaperoned trips to exotic locations....all this can not be done in the US.

Yes, she will miss her friends.  We all miss our friends at every duty station.  But look at the opportunity of meeting MORE new friends....friends you can correspond with for life on Facebook, Skype, through email or however!  It took my boys this last duty station to recognize it.  They are in 6th and 8th grade and have had some amazing experiences this last duty station (we've been here almost a year).  They also have new best friends here and Facebook with their friends from Germany and even our last duty station before that, in Florida.  One great thing about being with the military, kids at every duty station are in the exact same boat as your children and will be more receptive to making and accepting new friends.

My boys made friends mostly at school, during the school day...and then inviting their friends over to the house as we don't live near any Americans.  If your child plays an instrument or is in a club or plays a sport, there are even more opportunities there.  We have a weekly group that meets at the chapel that has some great fun and games...and they get fed.  Our sports teams also go all over, even flying to the UK for games, so lots of moments for bonding and creating new friendships.  We even had a group going to the United Nations in the Hague for a week to do their own mini United Nations and meet some of our current United Nations personnel.  It was very interesting and empowering I was told.

All in all, you've gotta convince your child to "give it a try", just like you tell them that when they get a plateful of food they don't want to eat.  Our policy there has always been to try one bite, and if you don't like it, you don't have to eat the rest...but rest assured, once you get them on the continent and through some growing pains, your kids will surprise you.

Oh, and one last thing that will help.....try to get on summer PCS rotations.  I know we started out on a winter rotation before we had kids and quickly realized this made life so much harder in the end.  We were able to extend at one duty station to get us on a summer rotation cycle, and the rest of our tours moved along like clockwork.  Yeah, you compete with moving companies, leisure plane travel and everything else, but to me, it's worth the less hassle and stress when it comes to my family!

If you have any moving tips to share for teenagers, let's hear them!



Anonymous Rhonda said...

We moved with our daughter to Guam in the middle of her Junior year and she was certainly NOT HAPPY about it.
I tried to sell it, even offered bribes(!) but since there was no way I was leaving her behind - I finally just made up my mind that getting frustrated with her bad attitude was only increasing my stress and I just had to ignore all that EMO business for a while!
As mentioned, military kids make friends quickly, so she was feeling much better, and enjoying the beaches, within just a couple of months! My parents laugh since they claim I did the same thing when we moved to Germany during high school - of course, I don't remember it that way ; )
Now that she's away at college - she has actually apologized for the drama and brags that she is handling the 'first time away from home' thing so much better than her non military peers!
It's no fun, but you - and she - WILL live through it!!

May 26, 2011 at 6:21 AM  

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