Communication with C4C DS 2019

Discussion in 'Air Force Academy - USAFA' started by mdzcpa, Sep 18, 2015.

  1. mdzcpa

    mdzcpa New Member

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    I'm sure that I could get some good sounding board advice from our local AFA Parent's Group, but given the multitude and depth of experiences by folks on this forum, I thought that I'd ask a question here. I'm sorry for the length of this post.

    To cut to the chase.... I don't hear much anymore from my C4C DS. Over the years my DS has been highly communicative with us (parents) typically venting about problems or sharing positive experiences. All his life he's been "a talker" so to speak. He could go on for hours. It seemed therapeutic at times for him to get his stress of his chest. Now we hear virtually nothing.

    He handled BCT relatively well. We kept the letters pouring in to him and he even found the time to write back 5 or 6 times during BCT. He said BCT was hell, but he also said he was handling it well enough. He called on Doolie Day out completely exhausted but in decent spirits. When I flew out for A-Day he seemed happy and it was a pleasure meeting some of the cadre that trained him. They seemed genuinely proud of my DS. Sure, they yelled at him too they said with a smile, but both of these upperclassman that pinned on his boards each said they were proud and that he had performed very well thus far. My DS and I took the few hours together on A-Day to have lunch and then visit his room. He seemed almost excited and proud as he showed me around the dorms and rattled off all the rules he had to follow. Although I could see he was he was very tired and stressed during my visit, on my flight home from A-Day I thought to myself that my DS had made a good decision to attend the USAFA. Although incredibly challenging each and every day, it seemed like the Academy was a good fit for his hyper sense of self-discipline and his ability to thrive within a very structured environment.

    Fast forward to today. Communication is almost non-existent. During Parent's Weekend he was nearly silent. Always deep in thought, seemingly "somewhere else." A few times over the weekend when we were at the movies or watching TV, or having a bite at the restaurant, I would see glimpses of his old self. Laughing and smiling for a brief moment. But then as fast as those moments would arise, his smile would fade away and his somber face would appear. Taking him back to the Academy Monday night he looked so sad. I asked him how he felt about things, but he wouldn't open up at all. No venting. No complaining. He would just say "I'm fine." I made the mistake of asking one time too many if he was "okay" and he told me to quite asking in a very stern tone. I obviously dropped the topic.

    As the weeks after PW progress, he just doesn't text or call now. If we text him we might get a one word response. Most often he does not reply. He always says he is too busy to take a call. I try to go a few days in between making contact with him via text, but the pause doesn't help.

    Are there any other families out there with a similar experience? I know it sounds like nothing for some, but given that he used to talk our heads off for 18 years, this lack of communication is somewhat distressing. His tone is always so somber. Our concern is that he is absolutely miserable but won't share it. He made only one comment on PW that eluded to his feelings. He said every morning he wakes up and hates life.... but by half way through the day he was okay. That comment broke my heart. Is this typical 4th Class feelings? Is it easier for him to manage what he's dealing with by not speaking much?
     
  2. NavyHoops

    NavyHoops Moderator

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    It is pretty typical for some. It takes some kids awhile to shed that BCT layer, find their groove again and let their personality show again. Some 4/C find it sooner than others. Send him a daily email or text and just tell him hello, thinking of him and you love him. It will help. When you get a chance to talk, tell him as parents you need a once a week email, call or text to say hello, I am alive, I am good and do/do not need anything and remind him you are always more than happy to listen to anything. It's honestly not too much to ask for. Eventually his old self, slightly changed, will return.

    Some of it is reality setting in versus expectations of what life would be like. Many find it much harder than they expected. Academics go at a pace they have never experienced. Upperclass are in full gear, tons of responsibilities. A lot of it is just figuring out, I can make it here mentality and knocking the BCT cobwebs out.
     
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  3. KTMDad

    KTMDad Member

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    Our DS wasn't communicating very much last month so I asked him to call home Sunday evenings (after their knowledge test if they have one) as his mom needed to hear his voice. We also asked him to send us pic's of himself periodically so we can see him.......Our DS seems to be very busy not only with school/military stuff but also with his new friends. I hope your communication gets better.
     
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  4. Pima

    Pima Parent

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    I am an AFROTC grad Mom, but I have to say I felt like you too when DS went off to college. We were always very close.
    ~ This was a kid that would come barreling down the stairs to the kitchen and say:
    ~~ Guess what Mom?
    ~ What
    ~~ I love you!
    He would do this the entire time he was in the kitchen non-stop. At the time it was insanely irritating! OKAY DS, I get it...I love you too, can you stop now? He didn't until he went back up to his room...I miss those days!

    However, when he went to college, it went silent, until he came home again. I was resentful at times in the beginning, but kept it to myself or Bullet. I was like you text, VMs on his cell, emails, etc. I came to realize our relationship was changing, and I had to accept the change. It took @ 3 months to get it.... he was finding his own wings without Mom or Dad.

    FFWD to when he went off to UPT. OMG I was so happy that we went through this already years ago. That life is not easy. Getting a 5 minute phone call weekly is common, and what you hope for. As parents you quickly become an example of Pavlovs dog. A call during the week is so unusual it makes your stomach fall...is this a good phone call or bad? You literally brace yourself before you answer the phone. You get to the point while they are at UPT that all you want is that weekend catch up phone call as a parent. At least that is how I feel. Pretty sure fencer feels that way too.

    Now FFWD to the day my DS wed last year as an O1. He just winged a month earlier. He stood up in front of everyone and made toasts to certain people. I was one of them, and I will never forget his word:
    To My Mom,
    You have always supported me in everything I have done. You have been my silent cheerleader in my mind supporting me every step of the way to get me where I am today.

    Just saying, that there was a lot of long time silence between us when he was doing his thing, however, he saw that because I gave him the room, and didn't demand from him time or talking, he appreciated me more.
    ~ He has been married now for a year. He is at his 1st operational base. Now, he calls frequently just to talk. More so to talk to his Dad Bullet during the Giants FB games, but still just to say Hi to me whenever it strikes him.

    I hope that helps to understand this is a long run and it will change. That you may need to just step back and let them do their thing. When they need you, they will find you. Trust me.
     
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2015
  5. wildblueyonder

    wildblueyonder USAFA '19

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    I do not know your DS (at least, I don't think I do), but as a C4C here I can say that it is very difficult to find time to call home, even more so than it was to write letters during BCT. We are almost completely maxed out academically, and next semester will only get busier. Besides homework, we have knowledge to study, training sessions to attend, athletics of some type to participate in, and upcoming tests to prepare for. If we have free time, there are shoes to be shined, beds to be straightened, rooms to be vacuumed, trash to be emptied, and drawers to be tidied.

    I am not complaining by any means--I mean it 100% when I say that I wouldn't want to be anywhere but here. I am literally living the dream, every single day. But I would be lying if I said that I have time to do everything I'd like to do, at least most of the time. I wouldn't blame you for encouraging him to call home, but at the same time, please keep in mind (as I'm sure you know) that he is probably not kidding if he says he is too busy at times.

    As far as "hating life", I don't know if other C4C's feel this way or not. I would guess that he was exaggerating; life here is truly not that bad if you do what you're supposed to do (although a LOT depends on the squadron). Even though I love it here, I have had days (more often than you'd think) when I woke up and experienced a sinking feeling when I remembered everything that I needed to do in the next 12 hours. As he said, though, things seem better once the day gets started.

    Lastly, I will say that BCT is a life-changing experience. It affects different people in different ways, but all of 2019 has been changed in some way by their experience. I doubt that BCT would make an extroverted person into an introvert, but it is possible that he is still recovering and adapting even 1/3 of the way through the semester.

    Hang in there! I will pray for both you and him.
     
  6. USAFA83GradWife

    USAFA83GradWife Member

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    mdcpa, this sounds very familiar to me. The Academic year along with k-tests, training, restrictions, other duties, etc. can be very overwhelming for anyone. Now throw in a little homesickness and the realization of how much life has changed. For DD, that didn't hit until after BCT because now she had some time to think. That first semester was her toughest! There will be doubts, second-guessing, the "what have a gotten myself into" moments. This is all normal and expected. Of course, your DS may not want to voice those doubts to you because he hasn't resolved them himself and more than likely, they are fleeting moments.

    One of the things my DD asked when she was back at Thanksgiving and Christmas last year - no talking about USAFA! She needed the break. I encouraged her to see her HS friends. That turned out to work out very well --- she came back early from a party and said, "I felt like I was babysitting. My friends seem so immature now!"

    Be aware that after Winter break, the "dark ages" start. That's when you remind him there's only "x number of days" until Recognition.This can be a very tough time for doolies (its dark early, cold, no real breaks, etc.) so helping him see goals can get him through it.

    BTW, what a difference Recognition makes! I got my old daughter back and even though things are still tough, that additional freedom that comes with being recognized makes them all much more appreciative of the little things.
     
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  7. Stealth_81

    Stealth_81 Super Moderator Moderator Founding Member

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    Our son went through similar ups and downs through the whole four years at USAFA. Even now there will be times when we don't hear from him for weeks, and then we will get texts and phone calls by the dozen a week later. Both at USAFA and in the real AF they have very busy times and some not busy times.

    One thing I will say is do not expect that they will ever be the same person that they were before USAFA. Our son changed a lot, some ways for the better, and some not. I can't say that he would have changed any differently somewhere else, but I really do think that the military changes them in a way that you wouldn't see otherwise.

    Stealth_81
     
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  8. Pima

    Pima Parent

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    I miss the old system regarding the emocons where there was one bowing down. If it we had it now I would give it to Stealth's post.
     
  9. kinnem

    kinnem Moderator

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    :rockon: How about "rockon" instead?
     
  10. Wild Blue Yonder

    Wild Blue Yonder Member

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    WBY2 nailed it exactly! C4C's are stressed to the max right now; parents, friends, family, etc are the last thing on their mind. Survival in the squad, classes and beat sessions are what matter the most at this point. Just as in BCT, advice is to take it one day at a time, recognition is right around the corner!

    Stealth is correct also, DS is in UPT now. Sometimes there is no communication for weeks, then suddenly there are brief chatty exchanges to get all caught up.

    This is not the "normal" college-career path...
     
  11. mdzcpa

    mdzcpa New Member

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    Thank you for the replies. My DD who is attending a traditional university heard the same line from my DS about "hating life." Her take is that he was just venting as he has always been stressful in the mornings as he thought about all he needed to do each day. She was with me on A-Day to see him and she felt the same way I did, that he seemed to have a good fit with Academy life (thus far) and appeared happy (as happy as you could be being a Doolie).

    As fate would have it, he called last night to speak to his younger brother who had just recently broken his arm playing soccer. After he spoke to his brother for a few minutes he got me back on the line and told me it was time to go....but then paused to tell me about a new club he had joined and he was excited about. That seemed to break some ice and the quick call turned into an 80 minute conversation! I know both he and I felt better afterwards. In a nutshell, he is frustrated. But not miserable. It boils down to his expectations of his academic performance. He's more academic than athletic and anticipated a stronger start. He is also getting an up close view of the Academy now and hearing the stories and rumors about how things run. I think he is reconciling his incredibly high expectations of himself and the Academy with reality. He seemed to feel better talking things out. I just listened. I only offered my suggestion that he take it one day at a time and to give himself more time to adjust. And not to be too hard on himself or the Academy. By the end of the call he was talking about how a few of his cadre and squad mates were some of the most impressive individuals he has ever met, and he was already forming his opinions about effective leadership styles. It was a good talk.

    Thanks again for everyone's thoughts. The fact he called last night and then spoke more than a few words has me thinking he spotted this thread! LOL. I know that's unlikely, but I'm happy for the coincidence nonetheless.
     
  12. greentrees

    greentrees Member

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    mdzcpa -

    Glad you heard from your son and had more than a 2 minute conversation -- if they only knew how much hearing their voices means to you!

    Can I suggest you treat C4C year just like BCT -- write him everyday. A short email each morning from you might do wonders for him. You can tell him what the weather is, what you have to do that day, etc - light stuff, but just do it everyday. Send some fun cards in the mail too, and an occasional goody boxes of his favorite cookie, etc. I did the food for my DS the first semester which he really liked, but I didn't do the emails until second semester during the "dark ages". And while he didn't respond to the emails often, if I failed to send one -- well that got a response..."where was my morning email, are you ok?"

    As for his academics -- they all come in thinking they will do so well, but USAFA classes are hard -- they ask you to remember so many details and maybe your son is more concepts and not details. Maybe his study techniques from HS need to adapt to what is expected at USAFA. My DS took a study type class for a few weeks that really helped him. You can suggest to your son that he talk with his professors, go for some EI -- even if he has an A. Stuff can snowball and that A can become a C quickly. The professors really do want the cadets to succeed.

    best of luck to your DS!
     
  13. Maplerock

    Maplerock Proud to be an American

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    I disagree about writing him every day. Let this young man grow up. He probably is not as needy as his parents. That is not meant to be disrespectful, just my experience.

    We want to be reassured all the time. Are they eating right? Are they getting enough sleep? Are the upperclassmen treating him right? We love our kids, but this is the time that they learn to find their own way.

    I suggest writing an occasional email. Let him work out his own rides to the airport for visits home. Let him initiate phone calls unless you have something urgent. Let him get his own detergent and buy his own socks. Remember, these kids were picked because they have the right stuff.

    A long-time educator, over the years I have seen some helicopter parents that you just wouldn't believe.

    You're son is realizing that he is in charge of his own destiny, as it should be.
     
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  14. afmom2020

    afmom2020 Member

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    I'm having the opposite experience. My DD barely talked to me. She shared the important things, but she's never been talkative. Information was always given in one sentence.

    During basic, I wrote everyday and I didn't expect many replies. I ended up getting 6 letters. They were short but more than I expected.

    Fast forward and I still tend to write and text every day. She will reply on some days and not on some. She will send little messages like went to the clinic or it was a small cavity or I love my roommate. When I do not write though, I get phone calls that last almost two hours. She's called her dad, her sister, my mother here, my dad in London, her grandmother in Italy. She takes turns and has communicated more in the past month than she has in her 18 years on this planet.

    In the end, I think we as parents need to follow our kids' lead and be there for when they do want to talk to us.
     
  15. haleym

    haleym Member

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    I am pretty sure I still have a message from my days at MMI with my dad saying, "You're mom is worried because she hasn't heard from you in a couple days. I told her you are off doing important things, but make sure you let her know you are okay!" It definitely made me laugh!
    From what I remember, I did not call home nearly as often when I was there (back in 2012-13) as I do now as a C2C. Leaving home has probably just been a stressful time, and he's trying to figure out what to make of it/how to tackle it on his own. It is a lot to take in. It happens, and is likely not anything serious. In just a couple years, my relationship with my parents has grown into something completely different and even more special (likely because there is not an angsty, teenage haleym sassing them all the time! :D). More than anything, he probably just needs time. I wish your family all the best!
     
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  16. Renegado

    Renegado Member

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    On a lighter note I sent a text to DS and he didn't text back. Sent another text and still nothing. Third text I sent "You owe me $350." He responded in 2 minutes. :)
     
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  17. Dad

    Dad Member

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    ^^^^^^^

    Parent Level: Expert
     
  18. fencersmother

    fencersmother Founding Member

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    Renegado! I did almost the same thing to mine one son his firstie year. Called, nothing. Texted, nothing. 2nd text, nothing. MAILED him a copy of a bill (which I had paid and didn't expect him to pay, but he didn't know that.) and OH MY GOSH. Three days later (mail delivery and all that), he called me during the day!

    Lesson learned, now I hear from boys sons, at least minimally a text and quick call, every Sunday night. If I hear from them at another time and it's not a text, I brace myself!

    Might I suggest instead of an email, go to some card company, Current?, and buy a pack of cards (or schlep over to the card shop if that's your druthers). Every two weeks or so, send a thinking of you card. Include ONE STICK of gum, $5, a picture of him when he was a kid, once or twice a $20 or a gift card. Anyway, nothing big, ever. This isn't reward time, it's "we are thinking of you" time. He'll keep the card, even hold it a bit longer.
     
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  19. fencersmother

    fencersmother Founding Member

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    One other thing:

    Note my screen name: fencersmother. Well, had I sent them an email every single day, plus a few texts, plus plus plus, I might have had to change my SN to
    fencer smother.

    These young folks are learning to make their way in a difficult world; they didn't forget you, but they are forever changed by BCT and by being away, even for a short time. If they come home tomorrow, you'll not find the same little Johnny or Susie as the one who left that pink bedroom with the Justin Bieber poster or the blue bedroom "I want the top bunk!" with the gym socks under the bed, back in June. What you may find now, is that your relationship has indeed changed, and now, you will love John and Susan. It may also be, as hinted above, that you don't love absolutely everything that your 4* does (or firstie, or o2 for that matter). But they are still YOUR John, YOUR Susan, and in your heart, still your Johnny & Susie. They just can't let everyone else in on that just now.
     
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  20. Tigger

    Tigger Member

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    I am not disagreeing with you but I do want to mention that every family, and the relationships within the family, are different. What works with one kid doesn't at all with the other.

    For some cadets they appreciate the help with scheduling flights and shuttle rides. I don't think there is a "one-size fits all" approach for this and other topics, such as frequency of phone calls, number of letters or goody boxes.

    I don't think it is really about being a "helicopter parent" at this point. Rather it is about renegotiating our relationships with our now adult children and finding ways for them to feel supported and remain a part of their loving families.

    Just my thoughts after doing this for a couple of years.

     

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