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Things Your Military Teen Wishes You Knew About PCSing

April 28, 2023

PCSing isn’t easy, for anyone. While we plan ahead for our children and do the best we can to help our military kids adapt and adjust, PCSing for teens is different than it is for younger children. 

In her 14 years, our daughter Emily has lived in seven houses in five states and attended eight different schools. She’s become a bit of a pro, so I asked her what military teens wished their parents knew when it came to military moves.


They’d Like to Be In-the-Know


Teenagers hear and see things. They sense changes. If they’ve grown up in the military lifestyle, chances are they also know battle rhythms.

Many of us tend to wait for hard orders before making any big plans, speaking in hushed whispers about possibilities may make teenagers feel like we’re hiding things. 

While our daughter knows that she (and we!) don’t have much say in where we go and when, she said that she and her friends prefer knowing that something could be coming so they can prepare for it in their own way.

She said that all of the details aren’t necessarily as that can be overwhelming, but whenever possible, knowing something is possible is easier than hearing it last.


They’d Like You Talk With Them


Once you have wheels in motion, talk with your teen, as opposed to talking at them. Teenagers have their own point of view, and each teen is different. Ask what they are concerned with and see how they’re handling things. 

In terms of the move process, consider asking these questions to see their preferences. 

  • How might they might want to participate in the move? 
  • Would they like to help by pre-packing special items?
  • Would they like to be home when the packers and/or movers come?
  • Are there things they’d like to do before leaving the area?

When looking ahead to your new duty station, ask them what’s important to them. Our daughter expressed to us that she knew the schools we were considering were great, but she had a strong desire to return to a dance studio she’d had previous experience at and still had friends there.

militaryMaybe you have a student interested in robotics, so finding a school with a robotics club would be fantastic. Maybe they’re interested in a particular foreign language that is only offered at a particular school.

You might be surprised at what points are most important to your teen!


They’d Like Time


Giving your military teen a heads-up on tentative dates allows them to spend precious last moments with their friends. If possible, try to accommodate end-of-school year plans (or holiday festivities if moving during the winter cycle).

When putting in your preferred move dates, try to consider school, extracurricular activities, or other special plans. This helps end one chapter before starting a new one. 

If you have to move ahead, perhaps traveling back to attend special occasions is possible, like prom or end-of-year award banquets.


They’d Like Space


One of the things I remember most about my teenage years is my room being my sanctuary. Emily mentioned that the same is true for her. Being able to redecorate or make a room her own, helps make a house feel like a home.

She also enjoys being able to choose her room when we get to a new house. While getting new furniture isn’t practical during each move, small tweaks like a new comforter or new artwork can make a world of difference. 

They Like Options


Emily suggests that giving limited options is a good way to make your teen feel included in decisions, without feeling overwhelmed with too many choices.

For example, maybe you found two good fits for a new swim team. Ask your teen to see which they might prefer. This allows them to feel a sense of control, without making them feel like they have homework or must weigh too many options. 

Keep the lines of communication open with your teen. If they’d still like to talk to someone beyond family, encourage them to talk to school counselors or the installation Military and Family Life Consultant (MFLC).

While we often tout how resilient military kids are, let them know that it’s okay to be sad or frustrated!

At the end of the day, moving is difficult! There is a mix of emotions, from sadness to excitement. Helping your military teen can help alleviate some of the stress, but above all, talk with your teen about their needs and preferences as each teenager is different.


*A big thanks to Emily Rupp for her contributions to this post! You can learn more about Sheila on our Band of Blogger’s page.


*For more resources, check out MilitaryOneSource For Teens, and our One Stop Spot for PCS.


*To read more about a teen’s PCS, check out Sam Says See You Later on our Blog page.





  • Sheila Rupp

    Sheila Rupp is originally from Michigan and is married to her high school sweetheart. She is a copy editor and writer with almost 20 years of experience. Like many military spouses, Sheila’s career has varied greatly over the years while staying within the communications field. Sheila has a bachelor’s in Journalism and Mass Communications, and a minor in Professional Writing from the University of New Mexico. Sheila is a military spouse of more than 18 years. Having spent the first 17 years as an Air Force spouse, she is now a proud Space Force spouse after her spouse transitioned to the newest branch. She serves as a Key Spouse and enjoys volunteering for a local nonprofit arts organization. In her free time, you’ll find Sheila on hiking trails, curled up with a good book, watching her daughter dance, or traveling the globe. Sheila is currently based in Los Angeles, California, where she lives with her husband, teenage daughter, and dog.

1 Comment

  1. Kristen Murren

    A wonderful and heartfelt article. No matter how much we prepare ourselves, the kids have a big adjustment as well. Thank you Sheila!


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