My oldest daughter, who is 13 years old, has been going through a lot of emotions as of late. Some I can relate to and others, not so much. Recently, I was approached to write an article about blended families. My family is very blended. My two oldest daughters have a different dad from the man I am married, my husband and I have a young daughter together, and we also have my youngest brother who lives with us.
When my brother moved in, my oldest daughter lost a bedroom to herself, which started a lot of muttering under her breath and the attitude of everything is unfair in the world. Maybe later, she’ll understand that she has more in common with her uncle then she thinks. He moved across states to live with us after our father’s death- which presented him with his own challenges- but I digress, back to our military dependent. I offered to write about how hard it might be to live with a step parent who deploys from time to time while she is away from her family who lives back in Chicago. I also suggested having my teen write it! The experience has not been an easy one, but I think her article is filled with good advice, both for military parents and especially military kids.
Letter by Monique Bronson
My mom is always asking me what’s wrong, but how can I tell her what’s wrong, if I’m not even sure myself. Lately, I can admit that I’ve been moody, but the things I want, I can’t change. I have a hard time making friends and I still have to share my bedroom with my two little sisters, who are very messy. I have nowhere to go and just think without my name being called, homework being done, or missing out on going somewhere because there’s never enough money. Being a teen is hard and my parents are always asking me to be understanding about things that happen, but I wish they were more understanding about what’s going on in my life.
My mom recently told me that we ‘might’ be moving. Everything is a ‘maybe’ or an ‘if’ when you’re in the military. When there is a certainty about something, it’s usually not in my favor. For example, I was told we might be moving to another state and we should know something within 60 days. The first thing I told my mom was that I don’t make friends easily and she just responded with neither does she, but we can find friends together.
I thought as I got older, that things would get easier, but it seems as if we are always preparing for something to change. As we still wait for the word if we’ll be moving or not, I was becoming more uncomfortable with the fact that this move could really take place that I started really freaking out and becoming sad. So my mom was checking up on me one day and saw some text messages which made her decide that I needed more help than what she felt she could give me. So I started seeing a therapist.
Here are a few tips that I want to share as I learn them myself.
Start writing things down. Don’t do like I did and send some pretty depressing texts to your friends. Instead, start a journal or write down your thoughts on paper, and show it to your parents. Even if you don’t want to show it to an adult, writing things down, to come back to later, can help you make sense of it.
Don’t ignore your feelings. If something is bothering you to the point you’re feeling uncomfortable, talk about it. Trying to ignore your feelings and hoping they go away actually creates more panic.
Get active. My mom started getting me in more activities. At the time, I didn’t know why she kept dragging me to charity walks and to walk with her walk group. Getting out the house sometimes to take a breath of fresh air, even for a few minutes, helped me calm down on days I was feeling especially down.
Find someone you can trust to talk to. Even though a few of my family members are just a phone call away, I actually don’t want to talk to them about what I’m going through. I find it easier to talk to my mom’s best friend, than my mom, and I’m glad she doesn’t seem to mind that. Finding someone to talk too can help anyone through a tough time as long as you know you can trust them.
Talk to a professional. My mom found me a counselor that I like talking too. I was reluctant at first and wondered what I was doing there, but the therapist is helping me to see my worries in a new way. I hope I can continue to go and find a different way to approach my bedroom being taken away from me and my sisters constantly misplacing the things I so neatly put in place. I mean, seriously, our room stays clean for half a day.
Keep people updated.Moving away is not like it used to be. There are so many ways to keep in touch with people; I don’t know why it bothered me so much. I am still concerned about making new friends, but with the way my mom tries to keep me active, I hope I will make friends in one of the many activities we will do if we move.
Think about the positives. Maybe if you focus on more than what’s wrong, and think about the positives, it might help. It doesn’t even have to be an extravagant super amazing fabulously awesome (maybe a little too much?) thing, but it can be the minor things. Like being happy you have a couple of friends to talk to and hang out with. Or maybe even a pet to sit with and sit by your side while you do your homework. It can even be as simple as doing well in a class at school.