From a very young age, we're taught the difference between right and wrong. Parents inevitably raise their children to have the same beliefs as they do; however, when they start getting older, the children learn to think for themselves. They go off to school, and are entrusted with the teachers within the local school system to teach them about the basic things in life, like how to count, spell, read, and write. As the years go by though, the child's mind is subjected to many things, not just within their academic institution, but they are also exposed to many issues that will need a degree of moral education in order to navigate successfully. The best anyone can do is try to guide someone to make the right decisions. Ultimately though, the decision is up to no one but the one being faced with the situations. As a parent, all you can really do in such a situation is sit back and let your child make the decision and learn from it. This may be a difficult task, but sometimes, the best way to teach is not by our own experiences, but by letting children learn by their own trial and error. The decision to join the military is no different.

As a friend to many service members, I often hear of "talks" with the parents about joining. Some get into fights with their parents about it, while others' parents are ecstatic that their son or daughter has a passion to serve this nation. Republican or democrat, son or daughter, mother or father, this decision belongs to none other than the one considering joining. All of the questions come up, "What if you have to go to war?", "What will your job be?" and "Will it be dangerous?" etc. These are all very important questions that need to be discussed not only just on the surface but on an emotional level as well. The future is never certain for anything and it is without a doubt a good possibility that one will have to go to war at a moment's notice, even if we were not currently at war, the chance would still be there to be called upon to serve in some way or manner. As a parent though, you must be confident that you've raised a well rounded son or daughter and that you've taught him or her the essentials of life. Whether or not you agree with the decision to join our nation's armed forces, now more than ever, your child needs you. He or she needs to know that you will support him or her, as a person, as a son, as a daughter and as a new recruit for our nation's best, no matter what.

Of course, coupling the decision to join the military also comes great anticipation for the required phases of training. The military's boot campm or basic training, is not just an institution in which one learns a new skill. It is an embarking on a new way of life, it is a journey, and it is a physical and emotional battle. The instructors may be harsh at times, but in the end, they've taught your child to look to their inside strength. During this time, they teach them to overcome fears that maybe they didn't even know they had. They teach them the basics of how to survive in water, in the desert, in extreme weather conditions, all the while teaching them about leadership and team work alongide their fellow recruits. By working with these recruits on a day to day basis, they help each other push themselves to the limits to become better, stronger, and more capable of completing whatever mission is given to them. By doing drills and the like with these fellow recruits, they will not only build a friendship, they will also establish a bond, and become family-like. On graduation day, they are not just fellow recruits, they are not friends, and they are brothers and sisters in arms, all branches alike.

Graduating from boot camp or basic training is a very proud moment and a day that will live forever in the hearts of the former recruits. As the parents of your now Marine, Soldier, Airman, Sailor or Coastie, you should be proud. You've raised one of America's finest, bravest, most courageous and heroic people. Many will thank them, and then you for raising such a wonderful son or daughter. In conclusion, It's not always easy to understand people, even our own family for doing what they do, but a family's bond can never be broken, even if we disagree with something, we're still on our family's side. The only things we can do, is hope and pray that whatever the outcome of the decision, that they are happy and healthy and doing something they love.

To the parents and children struggling with this decision, I say just listen to each other, try to understand both sides, and know that no matter what happens, you are a family and you love each other.

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Life in the U.S. Armed Forces: (Not) Just Another Job
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