Boot Camp Survival Tips for Parents
Write letters—a lot of letters.
Your Recruit may be homesick. Very, very homesick. Write a lot of letters and then write some more. Keep them upbeat. Send a small photo or two. DO NOT decorate the outside of the envelope with drawings, stickers, or write any text other than the address and your return address (and no spritz of perfume either). This will cause unnecessary attention from the DI and your Recruit does not want to draw the attention of the DI during mail call.
DO NOT refer to your Recruit as a "Marine".
Your Recruit is not a Marine until he or she receives his or her Eagle, Globe, and Anchor pin at boot camp graduation. My son tells a story of a recruit in boot camp that had a USMC tattoo on his arm. This is where we learned that a recruit is NOT a Marine.
DO NOT send care packages to your Recruit at MCRD.
Please, resist sending anything but letters. I know, it's a mom's nature, but your Recruit will thank you for NOT sending anything. Unless you are specifically asked to send something to your Recruit, don't do it.
DO NOT miss Graduation.
Take lots of film, cameras, including a video camera, be prepared to walk a lot, and wear comfortable shoes and clothes. If you have to miss graduation, your recruit will be given an opportunity to purchase a DVD of the events. Let your recruit know that you would like him/her to purchase the DVD.
DO NOT walk across the parade deck at Graduation.
It's respect. It doesn't matter if you're late and you're tired of walking and your four year old is screaming, DO NOT walk across the parade deck. Give yourself plenty of time to get from one location to another.
And finally, read this book:
Keeping Faith: A Father-Son Story About Love and the United States Marine Corps by John Schaeffer, Frank Schaeffer
The story of a young man having a growth experience by joining the military is a classic scenario, and John Schaeffer does justice to his take on it in his account of personal transformation from high-school graduate to U.S. Marines corporal. I have parents who are recommending this book for help with boot camp as well as with deployments. It's a book of supporting your Recruit and Your Marine.