Besides worrying about and missing their parent, most kids say the toughest part of their parent deploying is dealing with all the changes at home. Routines, responsibilities, chores, rules - they all can change. You have to watch your sister or pick up your brother after school. You have to cook supper AND do your homework. You have to find time for practice. And through it all, you worry that you'll disappoint your parents if you mess up.
Take a minute to think about the changes that have happened since your parent deployed. You might even make a chart with 4 columns. In the first column, write down the actual change (for example, BABYSIT MORE). Then indicate if you like or don't like this change in the next column. Use the last 2 columns to list all the positives of the change and all the negatives of the change. Here's the really important part — you have to think of at least 1 "positive" for those changes you don't like and at least 1 "negative" for those changes you do like. So if a change is LATER CURFEW and you "like" that change, you must think of 1 negative of having a later curfew.
As you look over your list, you might be surprised. It's difficult being "the man of the house" AND just a kid. But you're also learning how to balance jobs and responsibilities that your peers aren't going to learn for years to come. Sure, having that later curfew is sweet, but you also know to look out for the unforeseen problems that a later curfew can bring. Change is almost always hard, but it also can help you learn new strengths about yourself.
- Lots of change at one time can be overwhelming. Use the chart above or make a list of your new and old responsibilities. Ask your parent to help you prioritize them.
- Mix up fun tasks with more boring tasks. Set a reward for yourself that you can do once you finish a chore you really don't like.
- If you're asked to do a new responsibility you're not sure about, ask for clarification or guidance (maybe a cheat sheet) on how to do it.