A Note from a Parent/Mod

Discussion in 'Air Force Academy - USAFA' started by Stealth_81, Apr 29, 2011.

  1. Stealth_81

    Stealth_81 Super Moderator Moderator Founding Member

    Jul 20, 2006
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    With the end of my four years as a USAFA parent coming to an end, I just wanted to write a few words to everyone on the forum.

    First, I want to congratulate all of this year’s appointees to both USAFA and the Prep School. I don’t post individual congrats, but I wanted to let you all know that I read every post on this forum every day, and I have followed each of your journeys to that appointment. While I can’t feel the same apprehension and joy that you and your parents feel with it, I have been rooting for each of you, and I am proud that you chose to be part of the forum on your way to your appointment.

    For those of you who did not get an appointment, I also felt disappointment for you. As I said above, I followed all of your posts and I was rooting for you all. If you choose to re-apply I will cheer for you again. If another path is your calling, I wish you the best, and hope that you’ll let us know how you are doing.

    For the parents out there whose kids will be attending USAFA this fall, strap yourself in tightly, because you are about to experience a roller coaster ride that will make your head spin, give you feelings of extreme exhilaration, make you feel like you’re going to crash and sometimes like you’re going to be sick, and most of all, be over before you can even begin to think about how fun it is.

    I have much advice to give you as parents, but I really don’t have that much room, so I will just hit the high points. First, remember that this is an opportunity like no other. There is no way to compare the experience to any other college. You need to have a large amount of faith in your child, and the Academy. One of my favorite analogies comes from another mom on our 2011 Parents Yahoo site: You need to take a scissors and cut one apron string, then hand the scissors to your child, and have the courage to not interfere when he/she cuts the other one. There will be hundreds of times that you want to question the “what and why”, the changes in plans, the changes in orders, and the seemingly endless things that don’t make sense. Do your child a favor and just keep wondering, but remain silent. I have seen many of our son’s friends leave the Academy in the last 4 years, and other than alcohol use, the next biggest root cause has been parents who do not let the cadets learn to trust the system and to grow up. Even within the parent groups that we are active with it is obvious that some parents cannot let go and it hobbles the cadet. When they call to tell you that they got Tinker AFB in Oklahoma as a summer assignment instead of Hawaii, listen to them and let them rant. Don’t tell them that the AF is wrong and that they deserve a better base. If anything, tell them that there is a reason and they need to deal with what they get. Don’t help them make others responsible for every bad thing that happens. Yes, it is a peeve of mine, and I am hoping that talking about it will help someone.

    The next thing that you need to do is support their choices, no matter how much you think that you know better. Using myself as an example: Our son scored very high on the ACT in math and science, took all kinds of advanced math, and was planning on doing engineering. He went to USAFA with that plan and we were very happy, and we knew that he wanted to be a pilot. When it came time to declare a major, he chose Behavioral Science. He knew that his major didn’t matter for being a pilot, and he was more interested in the workings of the human mind than the workings of a jet engine. At first we were disappointed, but it was his choice, and we had to let him make it. I think that it has turned out great for him, he loves his Beh. Sci. profs and has done some really neat stats projects for them using his math skills. (He also got A’s in both Astro and Aero, so he didn’t lose the engineering skills after all!). We also know that his choice of major has given him more free time than he would have had otherwise. In his time there, he has climbed 10 of the 14,000+ ft. peaks in Colorado, snowboarded about 1.1 million ft. of vertical drop (yes, they actually keep track of it on EpicMix), attended Rockies and Broncos games, and spent a few evenings at Haps or Old Chicago. In other words, he was able to have a lot of fun times, and still graduate with a good GPA and a pilot slot. Lesson: he knew what he was doing, and we didn’t have a clue.

    To say the time goes fast sounds so cliché, but there is no other way to say it. Son called the other night (yes, called, only about the 6th time in the last 3 years, lol) to tell me that he had purchased all of his active duty uniforms and rank and had been busy putting them all on. He even sent a picture of his blues from his phone. To me, that made it all seem so real, even more than all of the graduation plans that we have made, more than the newspaper announcement, more than the background check phone calls, and more than the base assignment. And, yes, the the crusty old Fire Captain that I am had a couple of tears in his eyes. It is really almost done.

    Now, to all of the new appointees; All I will say is best of luck at USAFA. Nothing that I can say will give you what you need to make it and be successful. It all comes from you and your classmates. Share your strengths with them, and don’t be afraid to ask for help from them when you need it. It is the only way to make it through. It’s designed that way, and it works.
    I am fortunate that our son’s girlfriend has a younger brother who is a 2015 appointee, so I hopefully will be able to follow another great cadet for 4 more years. (Shout out to 1993A10!):thumb:

    Thank you all for listening and being a part of this forum. I have learned a lot here since 2006. Thanks to all of you who gave your knowledge about everything at the Academy and active duty. I will be around to learn a lot more and to help pass on what I know. Since everything changes from year to year, I know that my knowledge will fade fast, so I am happy that we have many new people here, and I hope that you stick around to share what you know.

  2. Pima

    Pima Parent

    Nov 28, 2007
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    Outstanding post. I think you have touched upon everything every parent should know.

    I especially found it very poignant about letting them rant. It is very hard as a parent not to step in, but even if you served in the military this is not your military, now it is their military. Things change and we tend to forget that. (We should realize it because we acknowledge that quite frequently when it ISN'T our kid :wink:)

    For Bullet and I may we offer our sincere congratulations to not only your son, but your family for achieving this moment in time.

    For your son, may every prayer, wish and hope be bestowed upon him now and in his future endeavors.

    Congrats to class of 2011.
  3. hornetguy

    hornetguy USAFA Cadet

    Jun 9, 2006
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    Stealth, now is not the time to be humble, make this sucker a sticky! Perhaps the most succinct, to the point, and dead-on accurate advice to Academy parents I've seen. Rock on! :thumb:
  4. bugsy

    bugsy Member

    Nov 22, 2010
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    I just cut and pasted into email to DS and DW.

    I promised DS that Id do my best to comply but its going to be tough if he changes his major.

    Congrats to you and yours.
  5. pinkharley99

    pinkharley99 Member

    Nov 3, 2009
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    As a doolie parent I can personally attest to Stealth's word of wisdom. My second apron string was cut before Xmas. It wasn't easy but so far the system hasn't let my daughter down. In fact, it has been everything she (and I) expected it to be and so much more.

    Good luck to your son Stealth and many thanks for your words of wisdom and insight.

  6. flieger83

    flieger83 Super Moderator Moderator

    Jul 26, 2008
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    I will second that statement!!!! :thumb:


    USAFA '83
  7. raimius

    raimius USAFA Alumnus

    Jun 9, 2006
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    Great post.:rockon::rockon:

    Be there for them, but don't try to be there with them. ...or something like that.
  8. vamom

    vamom Member

    Feb 16, 2011
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    Best post on this forum. I copied, made a word doc, and am going to send to a few of my friends as well. Your wise and well-chosen words apply to many of the upcoming life changes and challenges these kids will face...not just USAFA and not just college! :)

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