Advice for a mom

Discussion in 'Naval Academy - USNA' started by usmamom2016, Feb 2, 2012.

  1. usmamom2016

    usmamom2016 Member

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    My DS has worked so hard for the last two years to achieve this dream and has received appt to USNA. Did it entirely with no prodding from parents. Went to for candidate weekend visit, loved it, but realizes how hard physically, mentally, scholastically it will be. Not to mention we are on the other end of country, so coming home, etc...limited. Has a young brother and sister at home that DS will miss, etc...DS is getting nervous about....everything.....I would welcome some advice about how to talk to DS, etc... anything! Thank you.
     
  2. kinnem

    kinnem Moderator

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    Sounds to me like he is just getting the jitters. Remind him of how bard he worked for and wanted this. Introduce him to video phone calls via the internet. I don't know if they allow Skype at the Academy but I'm confident there is something similar he can use. Seeing his brother and sister while talking to them can make a world of difference. Also, put him in touch with the sponsor program. Sponsors are families who provide a "home away from home" for midshipmen. I have a cousin who is a sponsor. His midshipmen come by to do their laundry or just chill outside of the campus environment.

    It's time for him to start flapping his wings but its only natural to feel a little homesick at first. I'm sure he'll do fine.
     
  3. Hurricane12

    Hurricane12 USNA 2012

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    It's perfectly normal to freak yourself out before heading to USNA, or any of the service academies. The bottom line is that it's not that bad. If he's a self-reliant kid, and it sounds like he is if he did the whole application process/got interested in a SA on his own, he'll be fine.

    Sure, plebe summer/year are hard, but it just gets harder. It's why you hear upperclass talk about how plebe summer is a joke (and why it's so funny to hear/see what plebes freak out about over plebe summer).
    The good news is, he'll be ready when it does get tougher. The stuff you tackle early on pushes you and gets you adjusted so you can take on the stuff later on that's more challenging. For example, I would not have done nearly as well at, say, Leatherneck if I'd gone straight out of high school or plebe year as I did after three years at the Academy.
    That applies to all of the Academy's "mission areas," which are moral, mental, and physical development. You start out and the expectations are relatively low, but by meeting (and hopefully exceeding!) them, you get yourself ready to do the hard stuff.

    I can't speak to the missing people element as much. I'm the youngest and my family lives on the eastern seaboard, so I both had already dealt with the not-seeing-siblings-all-the-time thing and didn't have to deal as much with not seeing my family because I could go home for Thanksgiving, etc., relatively easily. I have never been homesick, but people are different.
    The good news here is there will be an almost instantaneous support network for him, both in his company and out. His classmates in company will look out for him: if he can't make it back for Thanksgiving, someone will offer to let him stay at their house, pretty much without exception. If he has nowhere to go on a long weekend, he will find something to do, whether it's going to his sponsor's house, or spending time with someone from his company or an ECA.


    The bottom line is at this point, all he can do to get ready is work out, put out in school, and not be a dirtbag. If he does that now, then it'll all sort itself out once he gets here. Every year, 1000+ people come here and figure it out. They're not supermen, they're normal kids who put in some serious effort and make it work. If he wants it, it's on him to do the same.
     
  4. sullivan1513

    sullivan1513 New Member

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    I think there are a couple of things that could help him/her. I myself will be attending the class of 16' so it will be nice to remind myself!

    (DS means daughter son? Not sure but I will be referring to DS as "Him".. applies either way)

    First off it is important for him to realize that this will be tough wherever he decides to go. My sister goes to a College 20 minutes away and she might as well be in California as far as contact concerns. Separation is part of this transition. (Have him watch Good Will Hunting or something..even if he has already watched it)

    All of his friends, everyone who he has become comfortable with over the past four years, will all be off as well studying and exploring their own ambitions. His leap of faith towards the Academy will be the largest stepping stone. Most of the the students who will be attending the Academy will be civilians just like him, and the Academy KNOWS this. Very important to remember.

    The last point (I certainly have a few more) I will make is about your son. Remind him the the United States Naval Academy chose him. The Academy's admission process reads in between the lines of the application and finds candidates who will THRIVE in their environment, and they selected him.

    He knows deep down the decision he is going to make. It is already decided. I'll see him on I-Day.

    Sullivan-MA; USNA 16'
     
  5. LiveGold

    LiveGold Member

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    Sent a private message.
     
  6. chiromed0

    chiromed0 Member

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    Our DS is a Principal Nom for 2016. NASS would have helped him get a taste of life there. Above all else I'd say the advice from my son is, "just do what they tell you to do".

    My advice would be to explain everyone is scared, doubtful and regretful and ready to go home the first month of every semester whether at the Naval Academy or any school for that matter. That's normal to want to quit every time a new experience comes up, just expect it-reject that feeling-move on...about 1/2 way through every semester you get into a routine and things start to get easier. It's not a foreign feeling to want to give up but you just need to push through each and every time. By the end of the first year, it's a habit to just push through and finish. He's gotten this far so he's got the right attitude.
     
  7. debcst

    debcst Member

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    It seems like he is being realistic- I would be concerned if there weren't any nerves! We are making 1 more visit this spring to give my son one more chance to see the SA up close, picture himself there, etc.
     
  8. need2know

    need2know Member

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    Sent you a private message
     
  9. usnabgo08

    usnabgo08 USNA 2008/BGO

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    usmamom2016,

    I echo Hurricane12's post, especially about the bonds you make with companymates -- lasting lifelong friendships with people who all share a similar mindset of service. Undoubtedly, your son will not be the only one concerned with the challenging environment.

    As a point of reference, just realize that from the time anyone enters USNA, they have joined the military, in which many families have to sacrifice. Only about 6 weeks per year do MIDN have the opportunity to leave USNA and once commissioned, there is only 30 days of leave per year, and numerous deployments that possibly lay ahead. Thankfully, technology has made it a little easier to "see" each other, but realize separation will become a fact of life, especially for a majority of the minimal 9 (4 at USNA, 5 post-commissioning) years of committment.
     
  10. Whistle Pig

    Whistle Pig Banned

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    The bright side ... no one else will be going home either. Lots of company and they'll be his pals!
     
  11. futuremid

    futuremid Member

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    I am more in your son's spot right now, so I don't know how much help I'll be.

    My family's in CA, which will probably feel like the other side of the world when I get there. I've always been real independent and able to do things on my own, but have never been separated from my immediate family for more than a month or two. I'm excited, but super nervous! I KNOW that my parents have gotten advice on how to help me now, as well. They know and I know that I'll be able to make it at the Academy. No doubt about if I can succeed at USNA. My biggest fear though is not being at home with the people I love most. I'm going to miss my five and two year old nephews that are with me every weekend and as corny as it sounds, my good ol yellow lab that I literally take with me everywhere. I'm going to have to surrender that I'm not going to be able to watch over and protect my little sister everyday and see her through a big stage in her life as well. AND on top of that ... I've been in the same southern california small town since I was born and living anywhere else doesn't sound all that great. Seriously, couldn't ask for a better place to grow up. Little sacrifices that will have to be made to be a part of the bigger picture....

    BUT my point is ... my parents have asked for a ton of advice on handling me for the next few months from other mid parents, church relationships, friends, etc...
    The best thing they can do now is just love me like they have the past 18 years and reassure me that everything's good at home. Of course they're going to be parents, trying to teach me all those last minute life lessons that are absolutely fabulous. But I think the biggest thing is just wanting to feel like we are supported 100% and we don't need to worry about home. Everything's going to be OKIE DOKIE without us and this is just the next step in life. It's a big step, but it's been set in stone in my mind and heart since I was a little girl. Now it's happening! Love and support him, use and treasure the time you have now. Advice wise: whatever God puts on your heart. But I promise, we'll remember the love and support and the little moments the most.
     
  12. 1964BGO

    1964BGO Member

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    Check in with your area's Naval Academy Parents club; they may have some support in place for your son and you. Also, the local club has a spring event for candidates and families and a mid-June picnic for the appointees to meet their new classmates and get the gouge (survival information) from some of the area's upperclassmen. There is likely to be lots of frayed nerve endings, but he will be kept very busy for the first six weeks so that will help take care of things on his end. Best wishes.
     
  13. craeder

    craeder Member

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    Very nicely said!
     
  14. usmamom2016

    usmamom2016 Member

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    Thanks everyone! All useful info!
     
  15. billyb

    billyb Member

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    When I was a plebe I only went home for Christmas break; I lived pretty far away. There were tons of my classmates that didn't go home either due to money or time it would take to travel home. So, what did we do? 3 or 4 of us went to one of our classmates house and had a great time together. I still remember Thanksgiving with my classmates as one of my fondest ever (and that was 20+ years ago) Your son won't be without family. He will be with his new extended family of classmates that become as close as brothers and sisters in a very, very short amount of time.
     
  16. 2012mom?

    2012mom? Member

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    Several very good pieces of advice here. It's especially good to remember that big changes will be happening to all of your son's friends and classmates. They will all either be going to college somewhere, or getting full time jobs (or trying to).

    Here are a few things that can help to reduce the stress of separation from family. Work together to put together a few "care packages." Put family pictures in random places among the pages of his Bible or other religious book. Think of things, maybe family inside jokes, that always make him laugh, and include reminders of those joke, but make sure it's done in a way that doesn't call attention to him when he opens the package.

    If you can afford to do so, try to have at least one family member come to Annapolis for Parents Weekend. It's far more important than I-day, IMO. If you don't think there will be time for your son to come home at Thanksgiving, and if you can afford two round trips, you might want have one parent there for PW, then have the other parent visit just after 6 week exams. That way, you're only facing separation of 6 to 8 weeks at a time, not 6 months.

    Most of all, remember that change is stressful, even those changes we choose to bring upon ourselves. It's perfectly normal to be nervous and a bit sad about the people we leave behind. However, I can tell you that my Firstie wouldn't want to have been anywhere else during these past four years. Best wishes to you and the soon to be great Class of 2016!
     
  17. usmamom2016

    usmamom2016 Member

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    Thanks. Good advice. A question that I have is - where do I get a calendar that shows when parent weekend is, when 6 week exams are over, when is the day after Plebe summer when they can call home, etc...? so I can plan! Thanks!
     
  18. USNA2016Dad

    USNA2016Dad Member

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    Fellow 2016 Parent

    Hello,
    Most of what you're asking for can be found at; http://www.usna.edu/PlebeSummer/info.htm
    The academic year calendar might be found at; http://www.usna.edu/AcDean/schedules.html
    Cheers...
     
  19. USNA4me

    USNA4me USNA Alumnus

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    My son, who just got his appointment, also had a simillar moment recently. The challenge of the SA, being away from home on the west coast, and the natural moment of "Am I doing the right thing?". The perspective that helped him be reassured was that he owed it to every other equally qualified candidate eager for an appointment, that couldn't get one! Thanks to everyone who have shared their first hand experience!!!
     
  20. Whistle Pig

    Whistle Pig Banned

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    A romantic thought that I'm not sure I "get."

    He doesn't owe them a thing. If he's received an appointment, barring circumstances, he's earned that appointment. Once he's matriculated consumed that privileged spot thus preventing any other from receiving it, then he bears the burden of doing all he can to show that appointment was well made. At this point, he only owes it to those who've supported and nurtured him to this wonderful moment to answer to the best of his ability and in advance of preventing another from ascending to that question of "Am I doing the right thing?" While some may disagree, the tragedy is most often when enlistees have failed to ask that question in advance of robbing another of this spectacular opportunity.

    More important than all of this ... Congrats on a great accomplishment and opportunity. Use it well.
     

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