Pulled from the pages of Issue #2 of MILITARY KIDS’ LIFE magazine.
What Happens if Your Parents Divorce? Are You Still a Military Kid?
By Heather Sweeney
Military parents are not really that different from any other parents. They also have to face difficult situations like divorce. Are you a military kid whose parents are divorced? You are not alone!
Here is the story of our military family and what we have learned about divorce:
Some stuff stayed the same
Although there are many changes that come with military divorce, some things stay the same. My military children still use Tricare and go to doctors on base. They still have military ID cards. They still wear their Navy shirts during the Army/Navy football game. They still add their father’s name to the wall of service members at their school during Military Appreciation Month. And they’re still proud of their father and his military service.
Our kids always know they have two parents who love them very much even if those parents aren’t married to each other anymore. A military parent may move and schedules may change, but that fact always remains the same. The other thing that doesn’t change? Once you’re a military kid, you’re always a military kid, even if your parents are divorced.
Some stuff changed
My kids had to change schools when they moved to the other side of town with me. It wasn’t a huge change to see me more than their father and they’ve changed schools before, but what they weren’t used to was dividing their time between us.
For the first year, my kids spent the school week with me and the weekends with their dad. The kids had to get used to packing every weekend and making friends in both places. We had finally gotten the hang of that routine when military life forced us to get used to a new one because of PCS orders. The kids’ dad was moving overseas. We were staying in Virginia.
Because of his new duty station, our co-parenting schedule changed again. Now the kids stay with me during the school year, and they spend summers overseas with their father. We’re all thankful for technology, like texting and Skype, that allows us all to stay in touch, share photos and stay in each other’s lives when we can’t be together.f
Here are some things I told my kids:
- Remember the divorce isn’t because of you or anything you’ve done.
- Divorce comes with a lot of unknowns, so don’t be afraid to ask questions. Your parents may not always have the answers, but questions are a great way to keep the lines of communication open and express what you’re thinking.
- If your military parent moves away after the divorce, discuss ways to keep in touch, just as you would during a deployment.
- It’s normal to feel a lot of different emotions, like sadness, confusion and anger. Don’t be afraid to share your feelings with your parents.
- Is it difficult for you to talk about your feelings? Write or draw in a journal.
- Talk to military friends whose parents are divorced. It’s nice to know other kids who have gone through it too. And they might have some more tips for you!
- Remember that even though you may live in two different homes instead of one, both of those homes are filled with love for you.