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What to Expect When Your Child Leaves for Basic Training

By Life, Family Fun Team


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As a parent, finding the balance between supporting your child and their dreams while not wanting to let them go is hard. Part of our responsibilities as the parental figure is to answer questions, be supportive and help guide our children to know what they want to do and pursue in their life.

If your child decides that joining the military to fight for our country and our freedom is their path of choice, stand proud Mom and Dad because your son and daughter is a hero. Knowing that in your heart is important, but preparing for them to leave for Basic Training can be extremely difficult.

If you find that you’re dreading the day that your son or daughter walk out the door for the start of their military career, here are a few encouraging tips for when your child leaves for basic training.

Military Party for son or daughter, child leaves for basic training

5 Encouraging Tips for when your Child Leaves for Basic Training

1. You can still communicate with them.

So many parents automatically have the fear that they won’t be able to talk to or hear from their child once they leave for basic training. That just isn’t true. While the communication may be a bit less than what you want it to be, it can and will still happen.

Remember that your child is starting out on a new venture in their life and is going to be tired and exhausted, so give them time to make their adjustments before worrying about when you are going to hear from them.

2. Tips on Mailing Letters To Your Son or Daughter at Basic Training

One great way to keep in contact easily is by using the Sandboxx App. It’s an electronic way to send letters to your son or daughter while they are in Basic Training, and they’ll receive any letter that you send within 2 days! It’s an amazing resource to have to communicate between the two of you because it means that you’ll be able to communicate quickly and more efficiently than by sending letters in the mail.

Mailing letters is fun, but it can take upwards of a week for those letters to be delivered! With the Sandoxx App, you and your child don’t have to wait that long.

child leaves for basic training, What happens next when your child leaves for boot camp, how to mail letters to your son or daughter while they are in boot camp

3. Stay busy and surround yourself with positivity.

It’s not a question as to whether you are proud of your child’s decision to enlist…that much is obvious. The hard part for you is in the fact that you are going to miss them being in your life on a daily basis. While it’s hard to imagine, those thoughts and feelings do get easier.

The key to staying sane during the time that your child is gone at Basic Training is to stay busy and surround yourself with positivity. Picking up new hobbies for yourself is always a great idea during this time as well.

Join a gym, a reading club, or spend your days outdoors in the garden. Any type of activity that can help ease your mind while still doing something that you enjoy can be a huge help!

Also important during this time is to stay positive and surround yourself with others who give off a positive vibe as well. Keep in mind that this transition isn’t just hard on you! Your child is more than likely feeling a bit of separation anxiety as well, so it’s important that you show your support by being there emotionally for them, too.

4. Send them off in style.

Everyone loves a good party, right? Why not send them off in style by planning a going away party before they leave for Basic Training. It’s the perfect way for your child to say goodbye to everyone, while also showcasing the amazing career path that they’ve chosen for their life.

Have fun with the details and include other family members and friends to help out in the planning. Load up the tables with your child’s favorite foods and treats and spend the evening celebrating them and their accomplishments.

You may also like: Farewell Party Tips For Son or Daughter Leaving for Basic Training

5. Reach out to other parents who have been through these feelings and emotions before.

Having a child head into the unknown can be an unsettling experience. In your eyes, you probably still remember them running around the house wearing diapers…In the blink of an eye, they’re walking out the door and heading to Basic Training. Life happens fast, but that doesn’t mean that you have to try to process these thoughts and feelings on your own.

There are millions of other parents who have gone through the very same thoughts and emotions as you. Instead of trying to work through them alone, why not reach out to other parents who may have some good insight and advice for you.

If you know someone personally, great. Otherwise, you can ask friends and family members if they have anyone in mind that you can talk to. It’s very comforting knowing that you aren’t alone and that these thoughts and feelings are completely normal, and expected.

When your child leaves for Basic Training, keep your head held high! This is just the beginning of great things that are going to happen for them, and you get to be the proud parent on the sidelines cheering them along the entire way! Stay focused, stay positive and stay supportive and you’ll find that the time that they are gone for Basic Training will be over in a flash!

What Do You Say to Your Child Leaving for Boot Camp


Coping with your child joining the military can be hard on parents and new recruits alike, especially if the child is just leaving high school and has never been away from home for any significant amount of time before. Luckily, there are many methods for making this time of separation easier on both you and your recruit.

How Do I Deal With My Son Leaving for Boot Camp?

As hard as it is for new recruits to go away to boot camp, it can feel almost as hard on their parents. From the lack of communication during certain parts of the training process to the uncertainty of not knowing whether your child is succeeding, it can be a stressful period for everyone involved.

However, there are a few things you can do to make your son’s departure for boot camp a little easier. Follow these tips to ease the transition for you both:

  • Learn about how boot camp works. The fear of the unknown is a large part of the stress going into boot camp. Learning about what your child can expect throughout their training process will go a long way towards putting your mind at ease.
  • Know that it’s okay to be upset. Sadness, depression, and anxiety are all common emotions that parents feel when their child is preparing to go away to boot camp. These feelings are normal and should pass once you hear from your child and realize that their transition is going smoothly.
  • Write tons of letters. Letters are as good as gold in boot camp, as phone calls are extremely limited and these are the only connection new recruits get with the outside world for weeks at a time. Keep your letters encouraging and lighthearted so you don’t give your child something else to worry about while they’re training.

The separation may seem especially hard at first when communications with family are restricted, but you should feel better about the situation once your child progresses in their training and they’re able to contact home more often. Be sure to keep your phone handy so you never miss an unexpected call!

What Do You Say to Your Child Leaving for Boot Camp?

Knowing what to say to your child when they’re getting ready to leave for boot camp can be hard, especially if you’ve never been through basic training yourself. However, there are a few words of wisdom that any new recruit leaving for boot camp for the first time will appreciate. These are a few things you can say that may help set their mind at ease.

  • “You can do this.” Your child is likely feeling a storm of emotions, from fear and uncertainty to determination and excitement. Knowing that they have parents who believe that they’re capable can be a comfort to them when things look bleak.
  • “I’m so proud of you.” And you should be. By joining the military, your child is undertaking a selfless act while proving their dedication and loyalty to their countrymen. It also puts your child on a path forward to better themselves professionally.
  • “I’ll be here for you no matter what.” Some recruits don’t make it through boot camp, and the military isn’t for everyone. You really don’t find out whether you can handle it until you’re already there. Reassure your child that you’ll support them even if they end up washing out.

The period right before boot camp can be a harrowing time for new recruits. Help make it easier by giving your child encouragement before they leave.

How Many Drop Out of Basic Training?

As hard as they try, not all recruits make it through basic training. Across all the armed forces, roughly eleven to fourteen percent of all new recruits end up “washing out”, or leaving basic training before joining the military officially.

Recruits wash out for a variety of reasons, including the following:

  • Lack of physical endurance: Some new recruits simply don’t have the physical strength and stamina to pass the minimum requirements necessary to pass basic training.
  • Medical reasons: Training in boot camp is rigorous, and there are many minor illnesses and injuries that may prevent a recruit from completing their training. In some cases, a recruit may be held back due to illness and put through another round of training when they’re well.
  • Lack of mental endurance: The mental strain of basic training is the stuff of movie legend, and not everybody is cut out to have someone scream in their face or criticize their every move for eight weeks straight.

There’s no doubt that basic training is hard, or there’d be a lot more people joining the military for the benefits. But it is incredibly rewarding for those who manage to pass boot camp, and a bonding experience they’ll remember the rest of their lives.

What Does My Son Need for Basic Training?

There isn’t much a recruit needs for basic training. You should keep in mind that a majority of the things your son will need in boot camp will be supplied to him at boot camp. Overpacking is definitely worse than underpacking for basic training, as it’s something that a recruit can be singled out and bullied for.

Here are the basic necessities your son needs to pack for basic training:

  • Basic clothing: The clothing that you show up to boot camp in should be as nondescript and comfortable as possible. The object for new recruits is to blend in as much as you can and not draw unnecessary attention to yourself.
  • Toiletries: Recruits need shower shoes, towels, deodorant, a hairbrush, a toothbrush, soap, and a soap case.
  • Identifying documentation: Recruits need to bring their Social Security card, Driver’s license, and other identifying documentation as required. Be sure to check with your recruit’s individual branch to see which specific documentation is needed.
  • Padlock: Recruits will need a combination lock to secure their footlocker in boot camp. This will keep other recruits from being able to go through their personal belongings.
  • Money: Most armed forces will allow new recruits to bring a little bit of money into boot camp with them. Check with each specific branch to see the maximum amount allowed.
  • Marching orders: Your recruit will need to bring all of their paperwork and documentation from MEPS to their pickup point for boot camp.

Other than these items, there isn’t much else a new recruit needs. Recruits are provided with all new uniforms, stationary, and other necessities that they’ll need the entire time they’re in basic training. They’ll also be receiving funds to use the commissary as they progress further into their training and earn the privilege to shop.

Can Your Parents Go With You to MEPS?

Parents are allowed to attend MEPS with their children. However, they are required to wait in a separate waiting area during the tests. Many parents attend MEPS with their child in order to witness them being sworn in and take photographs for posterity.

Can I Enlist My Child in the Military?

If your child is seventeen years of age, they can still enlist in the military as long as they have the signature of a legal guardian to back them up. However, your child will also have to sign up for the military of their own free will – nobody can enlist somebody else in the military without their consent. 

Should My Child Join the Military?

Whether a teenager should join the military or not depends on the individual. While there are some significant risks involved with joining the military, like possibly being injured or killed in an armed conflict, there are also many advantages of military service. Here are a few of them:

  • Free college education: If your child doesn’t have the financial ability to pay for college, the G.I. Bill will allow your child to attend a four-year degree at many state universities free of charge.
  • Guaranteed paycheck with cash bonuses: Unlike other jobs where you’re at the mercy of the job market, a military career is steady as long as the recruit is dedicated to it. It also has benefits like insurance and healthcare.
  • Professional experience: Many soldiers use the experience they gain in the military in fields such as medicine or helicopter repair to move into high-paying jobs in the civilian sector once they’ve finished their tour of service.
  • Adventures of a lifetime: Members of the military often get to travel to exotic parts of the world that other people only get to hear about or see on TV. These are world travels that many people would not be able to afford to undertake otherwise.

The military isn’t for everyone, but for people who enjoy structure and stability in their jobs, it can be a stepping stone to a very successful career.

11 thoughts on “What to Expect When Your Child Leaves for Basic Training”

  1. I like how you mentioned surrounding yourself with people that have good vibes. My son is going to boot camp next week and my wife is having a hard time preparing for it. We’ll be sure to write to him while he’s there to continue to encourage him.

  2. My son just left today Sept 27th 2021, I like the way the tips say to stay positive and stay busy. I am having a hard time and so is my mom, he is a good kid and has been there for alot of people and now he is doing his dream.

  3. My son left today. 5/29/2023 and I’m a total basket case. He’s my rock, my son, my best friend and my baby. I have been looking up everything so far to help me cope. I’m an empty nester now and I hate it so much. I want my son back.

    • My son left on the same day as yours.. I am lost. my sadness is overwhelming. I feel like i can’t keep going. He is my youngest.. I feel so lost.

    • I feel you my son just left 4 days ago and I’m a wreck crying every night but want to stay positive for him. This is probably one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to deal with but I can’t imagine what he is also going through being away from home for the first time 😔

      • my son leaving this weekend i going crazy thinking i came here reading others , my son never leave me i cant sleep until my son in my house this is going to be the hardest weekend, i try to be strong for him he is brave and ready but i am not, i been reading everything to help me cope with this because i been mom n dad for him since my husband pass he was just 5yrs this is hard for me, i am i lost in thoughts.

      • My son will be leaving on the 25th, I am.anxious but that is what he wants and I can only encourage him on the journey and stay positive.

    • I feel you my son just left 4 days ago and I’m a wreck crying every night but want to stay positive for him. This is probably one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to deal with but I can’t imagine what he is also going through being away from home for the first time life sure doesn’t prepare you for this as a parent 😔

    • Omg my son left on May 15th and I have been having a hard time as well. He is my middle child, but the first one to leave the nest and to be honest, the last one I thought would join the military. That first phone after he finally transitioned to actual boot camp broke my heart and I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to handle it, but he wrote and sounded so much better that hopefully I will be able to deal with it better. I am thinking of you ladies ❤️

  4. I’m glad I found this site! I’m an emotional wreck as my 17yr old son is leaving in 2 days (June 7) for basic! He will then return home to complete his senior year of high school then will do AIT after! He has never been away from home! I’m trying to stay positive for him and not show him my emotions, it’s just so hard! I will definitely be looking for some support from others who have or are going threw this! I pray my boy does well, he worked so hard prepping for this! Thanks so much for all the advice!

  5. My daughter is leaving soon, she swear in today. I have bittersweet emotions but its what she wanted so I’m going to support her. My faith in God carries me, and I find strength in prayer. She left for MEPS and I found myself calling more than usual and it had only been 2 days. It’s hard not hearing from her. I trust that God will keep her safe and allow her to be successful.


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