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Learn from the butterflies – let them struggle a little

Another move, another set of challenges. I think we would all agree that one of the largest challenges parents can experience is watching your child struggle.

It is so challenging and painful at times to watch as our kids move and adjust to new areas, schools and friends. We have so many worries and questions as we make a new move. Will they make good friends or is this the turning point when they are confronted with decisions that can change their futures?

In our experience, we never lived on a base with other families who were in similar and temporary situations. I can only assume that those in similar situations would find it easier to make friends as they know how the new kids feel. We always lived on the economy outside the bases, which has its advantages and disadvantages.


One of the larger challenges for our kids was to enter a new public or private school situation with other kids who had known each other since they were in pre -K.


It is tough trying to penetrate a new group of friends who have known each other since they were losing their front teeth and sharing common memories like the kid with projectile vomiting in first grade or the end of year parties.

Those shared experiences and memories bring kids together and naturally exclude those who weren’t a part of them. It takes a tough military child to not run home in tears. 


Face it, our kids are the new kids in town and with that comes plenty of positive and negative outcomes.


Oh, our “spidey” sense kicks in at times.  We want to step in when the kid says something mean to our child. We want to take that dodgeball and just….. well, you know!  It is a difficult path for the parents to try to identify when to step in and when to let them figure it out on their own.  

struggleI use the analogy of the butterfly with my kids. When the developing butterfly is emerging from its chrysalis, it needs to struggle to free itself from the pupal case, so its wings develop fully.

Butterflies, as it turns out, release a chemical when they’re getting out of their chrysalis, a chemical that strengthens their wings.

Their movements inside the chrysalis pump fluid into their wings, which help the wings expand. If one was to help the butterfly emerge, its wings would not form correctly, thus it would not be able to fly.  


Quite a powerful image, isn’t?


We want so badly to take away our children’s struggles and pains, but we must be careful to not to interfere with their natural development and to let those chemicals kick in. Looking back, as hard as it was, I believe this flexibility and multiple moves have had a positive impact on our children.

In the moment, I think they would have disagreed. Be strong.

With my two children now graduated from college and moving on to professions, I have the advantage of hindsight and feedback from my kids.

Our children have used the learned skills of penetrating new friend groups and using their developed level of conversing with strangers as part of their college entrance applications and have developed an easy ability to make friends as young adults.  They are not afraid of change and have become independent and contributors to society. 

They have used these experiences to their advantage.  Others who are going to college and who have had their close, familiar friends near them for years, often experience a tough time in college. It is difficult for those kids to make new friends.

Our military kids have the advantage on that one. Their skills are finely honed against the sharp, unforgiving steel of trial and error.

They may not have many long friendships, but those that they have they cherish.  Our kids have such a deep appreciation for good friends now. They would rather develop real, meaningful friendships. I think that will take them far in life. As an adult, if you can count really good friends on one hand, you are a successful and happy person.


The military child is a touch child.


We have always heard that and believe it.  I am here to tell you they turn into wonderful adults. Let them struggle occasionally.  Let them work through those challenges.Those challenges help create wonderful adults. 


For more inspiration from Jenny, Check out her M:M Band of Bloggers Author Page.You can also find her @Jennymanagofitness




  • Jenny Manago

    Jenny recently celebrated 25 years of marriage to her former Infantry, now MI soldier. As empty nesters they are now able to enjoy travelling in their RV when the military allows. Living in Arizona, and working out of Ft. Huachuca, there is plenty of opportunity for site seeing and deciding how they want to spend their retirement years. She started her career when she met her husband while at Ft. Benning. They PCS’d to Ft. Sheridan, she changed careers to raising a family then later picked up her career as a Project Manager in the Fitness Industry. She can be found on Instagram @jennymanagofitness and on Linked In: Jenny (Slifko) Manago, PMP After a recent PCS to Ft. Huachuca, she has become a Certified FASTERway to Fat Loss coach which is where her true passion lies. She is excited to build a community of mil-spouses who can connect via the FASTERway to support each other while we build our resilience and readiness for ourselves and our families. She can be found on Instagram at JennyManagoFitness or Facebook at Jenny Manago.


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Supporting Our Military Children

Supporting Our Military Children

One thing that has been most important to me, as a military spouse, is figuring out how to best do this life while supporting our children with the changes and difficulties. When my children were very small, there were many times that my husband was away, and I had to parent my children alone.

Mission: Milspouse is a
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EIN Number: 88-1604492


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