Faces of FOCUS
Every family has goals. Sometimes, you can reach a larger goal by setting a series of smaller, more achievable steps. This way you get the result you want without feeling like you're making a huge effort. After reflecting on the goals of the military families who come to FOCUS, I've noticed something: These amazing military families make small changes to help manage the ongoing stresses of military life. Below are four strategies that I see military families use everyday to stay resilient and strong.
- Show Appreciation. Military families are really good at showing appreciation for each other. Parents hug their children, siblings praise each other, and families remember to say thank you. Appreciating where you are and what you have is important given the uncertainty of military life.
- Go with the flow. Military families are incredibly flexible. They get creative and don’t sweat the small stuff. Families get news about an unexpected PCS or deployment and the parents say “Okay, we can work around that. We can figure out a way to get through this.” This flexible attitude helps kids to feel safe during times of transition.
- Value being together. Military families seem to recognize that they are stronger when they are together. Of course, this does not always mean physically together. Military families are great at creating the feeling of ‘family togetherness” even when they are separated. This can be achieved through the Internet and phone calls, along with family meetings at home, family fun days, or staying connected with other supportive adults and organizations in the community.
- Enhance your strengths. There is great strength in military families. One of the most important things military families do is to build on what they do well. They often discover their strengths though challenging times and build on them. They are able to see the silver lining in challenging situations and learn from the experience, honing their skills for the next go round. They don’t dwell on the past, and instead enhance their strengths to prepare for the future.
I am grateful to military families for teaching me so much about resilience. I am proud to share what I’ve learned to help other families to bring appreciation, flexibility, togetherness, and strength into their daily lives.
For additional ways to build a stronger family, check out the other articles in this edition. You’ll see articles to Power Up your Parenting skills, a fun family activity to bring you closer together on one of spring’s rainy days, and programs that support military families. Be sure to also check out our new feature, FOCUS Top 5. This month we are sharing our 5 favorite tricks for getting kids to eat more fruits and vegetables.
By Kim Crosby, Site Director, Joint Base Lewis-McChord
Powering up your Parenting
Parents often come to FOCUS looking to fine-tune their parenting skills and adapt to new and unique situations. Below are 5 tips that can help you tweak your parenting strategy to master any challenge.
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Family Closeness: Family Puzzle
Over the holidays my family spent a lot of time sitting around the fire and building a rather difficult thousand-piece puzzle. It was a fun challenge and it took teamwork to complete. When one of us was frustrated or ready to give up, someone else would come up with a fresh point of view to slip a few more pieces into place. We needed different perspectives from each family member to put all the pieces together. In those moments, we had the opportunity to see and value the gifts that each of us brought to the table.
One of our favorite FOCUS activities to support teamwork is The Family Puzzle, because like a puzzle a family is made up of individual pieces that fit together to make the larger picture. We hope that you will enjoy this great activity to honor the special role that each person plays in the bigger puzzle of family life.
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FOCUS Top 5
Tips for getting your kids to eat more fruits and vegetables
- Make smoothies. These are great for hiding a variety of good for you items, but we won’t tell if you won’t. Use low-fat yogurt as a base and then add your kid’s favorite fruits and veggies.
- Take the kids grocery shopping with you. Kids are often more willing to eat fruits and veggies if they helped pick them out.
- Give vegetable dishes fun names. Kids are more likely to eat their vegetables if they have interesting names, like “power packed peas” and “cauliflower clouds”
- Create a healthy dip. Everything tastes better when dunked in something yummy. Use low-fat Greek yogurt and herbs and spices to create delicious dips.
- Arrange fruits and veggies into fun shapes. Use almond or peanut butter, raisins and a celery stalk to create ants on a log. Place fruit on a plate in the shape of a butterfly. Make a smiley face out of broccoli, carrots, and a cherry tomato.
April is the Month of the Military Child
FOCUS would like to say thank you to all the military children around the world for the many sacrifices they make each day in support of our country.
This special month of celebration was established to underscore the important role children play in the Armed Forces Community. To learn more about the Month of the Military Child and some fun activities you can do to celebrate it, make sure to check out our Facebook page throughout the month of April.
For Those in the Know
Military Kids Connect
In January 2012, the DOD launched a new website for military kids of all ages and in all stages of the deployment cycle to connect with one another and learn valuable coping skills. Military Kids Connect has 5 resource sections for different audiences: kids (aged 6-8 year), tweens (aged 9-12 years), teens (aged13-17 years), teachers, and parents. The parent and teacher sections contain information about how kids at different ages react to the different stages of deployment. The child, tween, and teen sections contain interactive resources and videos describing each phase of deployment. There are also games where kids can earn cool stamps for their online passport, while learning valuable information to help them grow stronger as they face challenges. For the tween and teen set, there is a social network forum where they can post questions and comments and virtually interact with other military kids around the globe. If you know a military kid you won’t want to miss Military Kids Connect. Check it out at www.militarykidsconnect.org.
Sittercity Military Program
Sittercity is an online website that helps people find qualified care providers. Whether you are looking for a babysitter, nanny, pet sitter, tutor, housekeeper, or adult caregiver, you can find one at Sittercity. You can browse caregiver profiles or post a job opening and review applicants. Sittercity provides access to background checks and references for each care provider, and allows you to communicate through their secure website until you are comfortable giving out your contact information. The best part is that membership is free for military families through a contract with DOD. For more information or to start your search for the perfect sitter, go to www.sittercity.com/dod.
If you haven’t done so already, be sure to check out our FOCUS World calendar which provides 30 days of suggested activities to assist you in building a stronger family. If you have had a chance to use the calendar and have any feedback, we would love to hear it!
In 2008, the Navy Bureau of Medicine and Surgery (BUMED) contracted with the UCLA Semel Institute to implement the FOCUS Project for United States Navy and Marine Corps at 9 USN and USMC installations. In 2009, FOCUS Project was expanded to include 14 sites, including the USMC Wounded Warrior Regiment. In September 2009, FOCUS Project was made available to Army and Air Force families at designated installations through support from the Department of Defense Office of Family Policy.
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