To Parents: I have a problem.

Discussion in 'Service Academy Parents' started by ftblsoulja80, Mar 6, 2008.

  1. ftblsoulja80

    ftblsoulja80 New Member

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    My parents are against the idea of me going into the military. I want to go to a service academy, and I was accepted to West Point's SLS, but my mom didn't want me to go, so I had to decline it (I'm only seventeen, and as a minor, there's nothing I could do). I've tried to seriously talk to them multiple times about it, about how the academies are some of the best institutions around, about the honor of defending your country, and about how I know that this is my calling...but they just will not budge.

    However, I figured that once I turn eighteen in November, they can't technically stop me from going, right? That is, if I get accepted somewhere. Then, hopefully, they might slowly support my pursuit, right? I know that in a sense, it isn't right, with disobeying my parents and all, but I don't know how to bring them around. I've always done what they've told me but this time, it's about my future.

    The biggest thing I'm anxious about is not the application process, but getting my parents to support me. I would be so much more at ease if I had my parents behind me, instead of me always trying to get to military-related mail before they get to them and throw them away or trying to secretly mail nomination requests when they're not home.

    How can I get them to support me? Any suggestions would be great.

    Thanks,
    Jennifer
     
  2. VMINROTChopeful

    VMINROTChopeful Member

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    you rock! :thumb: :thumb: :thumb:

    ok. not a parent here, but i am so much fighting my ENTIRE family (except dad) about my plan to do navy.

    i wrote a thread about it here:
    http://www.airwarriors.com/forum/showthread.php?t=140763

    i say that when you turn 18, you do your own thing. your parents have no right to control your life after that. respect them but chose your own path.

    (i'm a 17yo girl too, by the way :smile: )
     
  3. bruno

    bruno Retired Staff Member

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    Tough one with no good answer.If you are going to convince your parents you need to be able to clearly articulate why you want to go into the Army (or any of the other services- since I spent 20 years as an Army officer and my wife has spent almost 30 years as one I tend to use Army as a generic for the military).
    From my own experience i can offer a few things to think about- all of which I have discussed with my own kids. Why did I go into the Army, why is my wife still in the Army and why is my son going to VMI and then into the Army? Combination of a number of factors:
    1. It's important. Every day there are young soldiers who are putting their lives on the line for the principal that there are things more important than their own comfort. Those soldiers need leaders who are disciplined, thoughtful, honest , selfless and competent.
    2. Military officers learn to be leaders and managers and they learn that leadership is not just an exercise in making decisions, but in weighing the consequences and making hard decisions for which they are willing to pay the price if those decisions have a cost. Leadership and service aren't just words without actions or personal consequences. Although the perception is that Military leaders are like the Sergeant in Beetle Bailey- you learn that leadership is best exercised by convincing your people of what needs to happen and then empowering them to make the decisions themselves. Additionally you learn that there are times when you absolutely must accomplish the mission even at a high cost to yourself. This is a trait that makes you really stand out compared to a lot of your civilian counterparts who don't really understand what "giving it everything they have got" means.
    3. Much more than any other organization- although it never seems to get credited for this- the Army understands that the world is not one dimensional. The Army spends a great deal of time learning about the dynamics of other cultures- Wars are not won just by force- the Army learns that you have to understand the causes and bring resources to bear to help resolve those causes. I knew far more about Far Eastern and the Middle Eastern cultures and institutions than any of my counterparts in either the business world or even the State Department people who I occasionally worked with.
    4. It's exciting and it's an adventure. As an Infantry Officer- this was a physically challenging job. While my peers were standing around growing chubby sitting at their desk- I was leading 18- 25 year old paratroopers around the world. I loved the challenge, I loved the cameraderie and I thought that the Army was good to me in return. I have worked for a large multinational manufacturing company since I retired, and I don't think that they care nearly as much about their employees as the Army did about its soldiers.

    The downside of the Army is that you can be sent away for long periods of time from your family- and it can obviously be dangerous. Personally I thought that that the tradeoff was definitely worth it.

    Going to a Service Academy (or a school like VMI) teaches you many of the things above plus some other academic plusses- very small classes and a faculty totally focused on teaching (no graduate teaching assistants teaching courses there while the professors concentrate on their own research); you absolutely learn that honesty is nonegotiable; and surprisingly have a great social life if totally different from the social life experienced by other college students. At VMI we had a real feeling of unity among my "brother rats" and we quickly learned to have a lot of fun within the system and skirting the edges of it (and paying the price if you got caught doing so!) -I would do anything for my friends from VMI- even 30 years later.

    So that is my experience- I think the key to your issue with your parents will be: you have to decide why the military would be important to you and then be able to articulate this to your Parents enough to convince them that you have given this a lot of reasoned thought. You may find that even if they don't agree with you, they respect your opinion. Parents often suspect that their kids are jumping on an option that looks "cool" without knowing much about it, so generally the task for a kid is to convince them that they have thought about this a lot and understand the long term issues involved in a course of action. If you can do that- your parents should respect your wishes when the time comes.




     
  4. THURL

    THURL Founding Member

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    Great post bruno! Well done. :thumb:
     
  5. WAMom68

    WAMom68 Founding Member

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    ftblsoulja80 - I'm sorry to hear you are not getting any support from your parents. They should have let you attend SLS. What if you went and hated USMA? Then that would have helped your parent’s argument against the academy.


    In addition to what has already been mentioned, they may need more information about the academy. If you can get them to check out the USMA website, forums like this, and books about USMA it may help them see the advantages of the academy.

    Another source of information is the West Point parents club in your area. To find a club in your area here is contact information: http://www.usma.edu/PublicAffairs/wppc.htm. Some of the clubs put on informational meetings about the academy, if you can get your parents to attend.

    The bottom line is that once you are 18 they cannot stop you from going to the academy. You are the one that has to complete the application process, not them. There are a lot of us here that will support you with our advice, prayers and good wishes if you can’t get that at home.
     
  6. Zaphod

    Zaphod Founding Member

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    I just love topics like this..... :mad:

    Before I do my usual rant, it will be helpful to know WHY they don't want you to go into the military. Is it political, economic, or are they simply scared to death that you'll take one for the team and come back in a long metal box with handles?

    Standing by for answer....
     
  7. VMINROTChopeful

    VMINROTChopeful Member

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    or is it because she is a girl?

    VMINROTCHopeful <---- girl in a similar situation


    P.S. girls have to deal with it both from in their families and from outside when considering a military career. for example, here is a message someone posted to me just today on another internet site- someone who doesn't know anything about me, just my gender:

     
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2008
  8. Zaphod

    Zaphod Founding Member

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    In my book, that falls under the "Come home in a box" category.


    As for the idiot you quoted, ignore him. If you are NOT like the sterotype he describes (and I'm sorry to say that there ARE women like that), then simply prove him wrong. :thumb:

    In my time (and I imagine this still holds true), the women who had the most respect from their classmates were not the ones who ran the fastest or got the best grades, but the ones who simply considered themselves and acted as just another Mid/Cadet. They did what they had to do the best they could do it, and didn't whine or expect/accept any special treatment in the process. The guys came to respect them quickly, and woe betide the poor civilian fool out in town who didn't comport himself properly toward them, because then all the GUYS would come roaring in like a band of avenging angry brothers.

    I saw it more than once. :biggrin:
     
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2008
  9. ftblsoulja80

    ftblsoulja80 New Member

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    Haha, I've applied to places behind my parents' backs, too. At least you have your dad. And congrats on VMI! So far, I haven't really had anyone outside of my family say that as a girl, I wouldn't be able to make it in the military. However, I've actually had people who've tried to persuade me to rethink it, but I'm pretty sure it was because they were scared for me, not because of my gender.


    Those are some really great points, but it's extremely difficult to communicate with my parents words such as camaraderie or even selflessness. They're Vietnamese immigrants who don't know English that well, and if they don't want to listen, they can shut me and my English out very easily. But I do agree that they think I want to join because they think that I think it's "cool," or that it's just a phase. I'm hoping that when the time comes, or even when some time passes thereafter, they'll know I'm serious about it. I'd rather it be before then, though. I'll definitely try to voice more specific reasons like the ones you mentioned more often... when they're in good moods, of course.



    It's a combination of a lot of things, but it's mostly that they don't think it's a place where women should be and of course, they don't want me to go to war in places like Iraq or Iran and get killed. They have a hard time picturing women being equal to men, especially my mom, surprisingly.


    I think that's what's ultimately going to happen, because my parents are so stubborn. Thanks for the info about the parents' club, too; I'll have to check that out. As for trying to get them research about the academies: I can see them now, just brushing me off, saying they're "too busy," but I guess it won't hurt that much if I try.
     
  10. VMINROTChopeful

    VMINROTChopeful Member

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    i understood your situation just too too well. i think it's also an asian thing. i'm american-born chinese myself, an only child born to 1st generation immigrants, and my parents just don't understand why i wouldn't prefer something like being a doctor like the rest of my family! my mom just laughs at my goals and no one understands patriotism. my grandparents think of an ROTC scholarship as "blood money". :frown::frown::frown:

    i think that in my generation, we bridge the gap between respect for our parents with the ability to live our own lives. for that reason, i will respectfully decline any ideas for me that are not my own but still be respectful of them, if not their desires. and if i succeed, i expect family support to come later.:rolleyes: at least i am not breaking ground completely. my chinese 2nd cousin served in Iraq after an AROTC scholarship- but he was a guy!
     
  11. bruno

    bruno Retired Staff Member

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    I feel for all of you kids who have posted on this one and kind of glad that I have never actually been in this situation (and hope that I havent put my kids into this situation without knowing it!). As a dad myself I can certainly understand Parents having certain preferences for their kids college and career choices, but through the dim recesses of my memory I also recall having definite plans of my own and I guess that I was fortunate to have parents who at some point were convinced that I knew what I wanted , decided that it wasn't utterly foolish and short term focused, and decided it was my decision to make and supported me. (I'm kind of hoping that my kids see me that same way even if they never admit to it- Dad pushes them but if they aren't doing something immoral or utterly on a whim- eventually I can be convinced and support their decisions). I hope for all of your sakes that is really the case with your parents. From my experience as a Dad-two things that I am certain of: 18 will come and you will legally be able to make your own choices whether your parents agree or not (although they don't have to pay for your choices if they disapprove- always an important point to note!) and they will be much more likely to support them if you don't make them totally behind their backs and you can articulate your reasoning. Good luck, hang on to your dreams and do your best to make them come true without rupturing your family relationships which are more important than you might realize at 17!
     
  12. wpmom2011

    wpmom2011 Member

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    My d first mentioned attending WP when she was a sophomore. Her U.S. history teacher was a retired LTC just returned from Iraq and was very much an inspiration to her. I have raised her to believe that she had the same opportunities that her 2 older brothers have, but this was definitely not something that I had expected. At first, I just ignored it. It seemed to me that she was more interested in whether she was good enough to be accepted, than actually going to WP and being in the Army. Plus, I was in denial, and not wanting to accept that she was serious. I took her to numerous colleges for visits with the thought that maybe she'd like one of them better and forget about WP. I even arranged a side trip to WP during a summer trip, hoping that she wouldn't like it, and then I wouldn't have to challenge her about it. She loved it.

    Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against the military or WP. I just didn't think that the Army would appreciate her talents and intelligence and put them to good use. I was also concerned about how a female is treated in the military. I grew up during the Vietnam era, and women in the Army, other than nurses, were not common or if the stories were true weren't treated well.

    Anyway, she was steadfast and in our discussions, she was very logical, unemotional and very determined. I challenged her on her reasons and made sure that she understood all the implications. I bought the books about WP and she actually read them. Then the application process started and she was very diligent and willing to handle things herself (even things that she didn't like doing and had always avoided or ignored).

    To all you young people whose parents are having trouble with your decisions to go to a SA, I hope you'll remember that your parents love you and they only want what is best for you. If they're having a hard time with your decision, it's not just about you going to WP or another SA. It's also about them realizing that you are growing up and are making your own choices, and they no longer have much control over you. We, as parents, know that even though you feel that you are grown up and know what you're doing, we were 18 once and can now look back at how inexperienced and sometimes stupid we were and we often think, "What was I thinking?" or "Boy, was that stupid!"

    So, what would I suggest? Make sure you want to go into the military (SA or ROTC) for the right reasons. Try to convey your reasons to your parents in a gentle but determined way. Don't give any ultimatums. Assure them that you have given this a lot of thought. It also doesn't hurt to share the academic opportunities with them. See if you can get them to take you for an orientation tour. (They may understand better when they see it for themselves.) But, above all, give them time to adjust to the idea.

    Your parents and I grew up in a time when women didn't have the opportunities that are available now to our daughters. It was a given that our sons (although no less valuable) would fight our wars and defend our freedoms. It is not an easy adjustment for our daughters to choose to go into harm's way. And your parents' background/culture would make it even harder to handle.

    I did accept my d's decision to go to WP, although I'm still scared silly about her future. But it is her future. I've been up to WP 4 times (that summer bus tour, the overnight orientation to make sure she knew what she was getting into, A-Day and Plebe-Parent Weekend). The place/history/people are impressive and inspirational. She is getting a great education, is being challenged to the fullest (one of her desires) and is living her dream. She absolutely loves it. So how can I not support her when she is happy there?

    It is possible to go to a SA without your parents approval and be successful, but SA's are tough, and you will need your family's support at times.
     
  13. wpmom2011

    wpmom2011 Member

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    One last thought:

    If it takes your parents some time to come around, there are parents of other cadets here and when you get to the academy that will "adopt" you and support you, so don't think you will be all alone. Not to mention all the other cadets -- an instant brotherhood/sisterhood.

    Go for the dream, you won't regret it. If you don't go for it, then you probably will.
     
  14. Katienavy?

    Katienavy? Candidate

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    EXAAAACTLY THE SAME POSITION!!!!
    my parents come with the same arguments as yours, i say the same things back about how great the academies are for education, fitness, leadership, character-building, ....
    and same, i've always 'done what they wanted' but now its about MY future, not theirs!!
    plus im a 17yo girl :biggrin:

    :frown::yllol:
     
  15. mnolan

    mnolan Parent

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    parents and SA's

    I am the parent of a 4/C daughter currently attending the US Coast Guard Academy. I never had a problem with my daughter attending, but I think my wife (her mother) initially did. She works for the VA at a medical facility, and doesn't tend to see the "success" stories as much as the people with problems.

    From my point of view, please keep in mind a couple of things..........

    If your parents are not militarily oriented (or maybe if they have had other military experiences) it is likely that they are SCARED for you! Being in the military is a scary thing.....I don't care why you go in....you are putting yourself at risk.....and as parents, we just spent the better part of the last 17 years of your life trying to keep you safe! So that could really be part of the issue. Trying to apply logic to scared parents doesn't work. They have to think this through and eventually let you go. It's hard for parents.....you'll believe me when you get there. Talking about all the educational benefits, leadership, etc.. available at the academies really doesn't help, because they are scared for you (that also means they love you a lot...don't forget that!)

    If you can attend any sort of academy function, or have your parents talk to other parents whose kids go to a SA might help, we all had the same concerns. When my daughter was in HS, anytime we traveled by a CG facility, we stopped and asked to look around. The CG is pretty small and everyone was happy to talk to us. In general we found that the people working for the CG were very nice, decent, smart, hospitable people and that we would be very happy if our daughter were to become a part of what ends up being a very tight knit family. That helped sell the idea to my wife.

    As you say in your post, you could apply and accept behind their backs, but as someone said before, it would be very helpful to have their support if and when you attend the academy of your choice. Most academies have a summer program, you might attend one if you aren't too old yet. You could also attend some military functions and get to meet people.

    I teach at a public university with an extensive ROTC program, although I am not personally connected with it. I have no military background so this Service Academy stuff was all new to me as well. If you want some additional ideas, or if you think I can help by talking to you and/or your parents, send me a private message and I would be glad to help out. As I said before, my daughter is a freshman at the US Coast Guard Academy and is 100% sure that this was the right decision for her...and we agree as well.


    Mike
     
  16. bossf51

    bossf51 Parent

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    There is certainly risk in any branch of the military...that comes with the territoty.

    It is important that you level with your parents...you're going to need their support in the coming months and years. Trust me on that one.

    They should come on here or speak with other parents who have been through the same thing. We are willing to help. Good luck. :thumb:
     

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