Not too long ago a reader came to me and said, “We just got PCS orders to an unfavorable location! How do we tell our parents?” I thought about our PCS move to Japan and how we broke the news to our parents. We actually planned on volunteering for Japan for quite some time, so it wasn’t a surprise to our parents when we officially got orders. I think mentioning several times in casual conversation that we wanted to go to Japan helped prepare them for the reality when it happened.
I’m not really much an expert when it comes to sharing news with the parents though. I’m much more of a direct–just put it out there–kind of person. Since I was lacking the wisdom and advice this reader truly needed, I turned to my fellow military spouses for advice on how they handled the same situation. They came back with some great tips, examples, and encouraging advice!!
So if you are like my fellow reader, and you aren’t quite sure how to share the news of your next military PCS move with your parents, consider these awesome tips from military spouses who’ve been there:
Tell them straight up.
“Our move to Korea went from “he’s going for a year and we’re just going to visit” to “we’re going unaccompanied…” to “command sponsored, two years” and then “just kidding, we signed up for three!” Best way to break the news is to tell them straight up. And then make the best of it wherever you move! Bad news often turns good, especially with the right attitude.” — Chantal
“We haven’t had to do this about a PCS but joining the Military in the first place. I knew my mom would have a very hard time so I just went ahead and told her. I figured that would be better then waiting and have it eat at me. It also gave her time to process it.” — Julie, Soldiers Wife Crazy Life
Turn it into a positive.
“My friend was worried when she got orders. There was a bit of ignorance to the unknown in her response to the news, and her family’s. But she arrived there, and they absolutely LOVE it! From the most beautiful oceans, to diving for pearls, to her son playing on the national baseball team and traveling to other countries in the area, it’s just been one adventure after another. And her parents were able to fly out and meet them for a few weeks over Christmas, where they traveled throughout Europe for the holidays. It has been such a culturing experience for them! She made a conscious choice to turn an unknown into a HUGE positive! I believe cases like hers, especially a PCS abroad, have 90% to do with your positive mental attitude. ” –Alecia
“Wow. What a real issue. Both my parents and my husband’s were upset when we received orders to Okinawa. I would recommend to this reader to have a list of “positives” to present with the news. For example, we can Skype or FaceTime every Saturday. Isn’t that awesome there is technology to do that? We will fly home once a year. And you can come visit. Gosh, it’s hard.” — Michelle, NextGen MilSpouse
“I thinks she should sound excited and tell them all the positive sides of that locations. If parents see their children worried they get worried too, but if they see them comfortable and happy they will tend more easily to be happy for them” — Silvia
Give them time to adjust.
“My husband and I always said we wouldn’t want to PCS [far away because] it’s just too far from family and friends. Then we were offered [to move to another country] with his reenlistment package and we couldn’t have said “yes” fast enough. His mom wasn’t too thrilled about it and I know my dad isn’t either, but I think the fact that we’ve been so excited about it these past few months really helped. It’s going to be a big adjustment for everyone and I made sure to let them know that we understand their concerns and whatnot. As much as they don’t like it, they’ve all been very supportive of this once in a lifetime opportunity. It’s good to stay positive!” — Keating, High Heels & Combat Boots
“Be empathetic to your folks’ concerns and worries. I think the worst thing to do is become hostile if they get upset with the news.Their emotions are coming from a good, loving place. Tell them about your reservations but try to give them some good stuff to look forward to– visits, interesting things about the new place, etc.” — Jo, Jo My Gosh
Turn it into a vacation opportunity of a lifetime.
“I am a foreign born spouse so have to deal with this….as anywhere away from my home country is upsetting to my family….10 years of upset….So….encourage that the time you do spend is QUALITY time.
We usually try and get away for at least part of the time when my family visits (hire a cabin or beach house) and actually have a vacation WITH then not just have them visit. The rest of the time (my mother comes for 6 weeks at a time) we try and do things that focus on spending time together…..family game nights, projects, walks….stuff that is together interacting activities not just “in the same room” stuff.
Also set up regular times for skype (ours is once a week on a Friday my daughter eats lunch with Nana) and email, text, talk as often as possible. I usually email once a day, sometimes it is just a photo or something silly our child said.” –Rachel
Ask for their support.
“I would say, “You gave me a life to live and I am living it with the person I chose to marry. He chose to serve this country and I am proud to go with him so he can do just that. You should be proud, too.” It was not a military move, but I HATED living in Seattle for the entire 364 days I was there. I was a 21-year old kid and while I would not choose it as a permanent station in life, I look back wishing I would have taken more advantage of the beautiful area. It is truly what you make of it and I agree to turn it into a positive.” — Heather, Life of a Traveling Navy Wife
“When we got orders to [another country] I knew my parents would be shocked. It would also be our first OCONUS PCS and a big difference from only being 7 hrs away from home and near family like our last duty station. I waited a while until we had the official orders to tell them. I called them up, and because I’m not into sugar coating, it was just like “So, we finally got orders. We’re going to [another country]”.
There was some stunned silence on the other side, but they are actually really pumped about it and planning on doing a big visit bucket list type trip and visiting us as part of it. They however are really supportive, and I know they act super excited about it in part for me. The also know and have known that getting sent over seas or otherwise far away has always been a possibility. So they are pretty cool about it. ” — Kara, Green Mountain Girl
Want more on military life?
- Best Moving Overseas Checklist for Military Families (Free Printable!)
- 20 Must-Have Documents for a Stress-Free PCS (Free Printable!)
- Preparing Emotionally for a PCS
- 21 Long Distance Friendship Truths Only a Military Spouse Will Understand