Family Support and Parenting
For families with Service children
JPA - Declaration of dependent children
Declaring dependent Service children on JPA can enable appropriate allowances to be obtained, enable paternity and adoption leave requests and can have an influence on allocation of service housing and potential assignments.
In order to complete the registration process, Service personnel should provide a copy of the child’s birth certificate to unit HR who will complete the JPA process in accordance with BPG IN914005.
Contact: Defence Children Services (DCS), which has responsibility for the functions, in support of Service families related to education and care.
NFF Parental Absence Resource
Being a parent and raising children is exciting and rewarding, but it can be tough at times for any family. The amount, patterns and types of parental absence faced by Royal Navy and Royal Marines families present additional challenges that are not routinely experienced by most civilian families.
In response to feedback from families, the Naval Families Federation has produced a resource about the experience of parental absence. The purpose of the resource is to draw together some useful information about parental absence and separation, and provide some strategies to help families thrive.
If you are a parent, it may also be helpful to give a copy to your child’s school, or to other people in your network, to help them to understand your circumstances.
You can download a free copy here.
Alternatively, Royal Navy and Royal Marines families, and those supporting them, please email us at email@example.com to request a hard copy. Regrettably, we are only able to send hard copies to our beneficiaries due to resource constraints.
*Please note: Since its publication, some of the supporting organisations/ charities have undergone rebranding. We are currently working on updating this resource. Please double check their contact details before making contact.
Reading Force is a shared reading initiative that helps keep Service families close and connected. The charity provides free books and scrapbooks to families. They then choose a book and share it, reading it together at home or over Skype or FaceTime if a loved one is deployed or working away.
You can find out more about Reading Force from their brochure.
For parents with adult joiners
The days of lullabies, trips to the park and help with homework are over. You have gone from being a supervisor of your child’s life to a spectator as your young person takes their first steps of independence. This can be a challenging transition for any parent, but what if your young person has decided to join the Royal Navy or Royal Marines?
Supporting Adult New Joiners
Back in the 1960s, recruits at HMS Raleigh were given a compulsory postcard to send home to their parents in their first week of training, and were told what to write! Nowadays parents are much more likely to hear the unvarnished reality of their children’s experiences.
We’ve been talking with parents about their experiences of their grown-up children joining the Naval Service. They have told us about some of the things that have helped them during the early days of training and moving on to first assignments. A common thread in the feedback we received from parents was that they felt confident that their ‘children’ were being well looked after and supported by the Service. Families felt that their young people knew where to get help and support, and that they had access to people who would listen to any concerns. There was good awareness among young recruits of the Royal Navy and Royal Marines’ guidance on issues such as bullying or harassment. In particular, parents mentioned Royal Navy Chaplains as providing invaluable support, whether or not the young person has a faith.
One mum said that young people generally get caught up in what they are doing and life with their new ‘oppos’, and tend to think about mum and dad when something goes wrong. This can be misleading for parents who may only hear about the more challenging stuff. Despite how it may sometimes feel as a parent of young people, you are very influential, and your support and ability to listen can have a huge impact on their success.
Parents who have experienced Service in the Armed Forces themselves said that they felt this was a huge advantage to them in helping them to feel confident and happy about what their young people were doing. One father said that he felt confident that if he approached the Navy about any concerns that he would be taken seriously. He felt it was important that parents who had not served in the Armed Forces themselves realised that people will talk to you and help you. Several parents said it was helpful to ‘buddy up’ with someone who has more experience of Naval life, and that appropriate social media groups could be helpful in reducing anxiety for parents.
Here are some of the useful tips you shared with us:
- “Simple really; don’t worry about them; they are being better looked after than we could ever dream.”
- “Get them a good iron and a good ironing board!”
- “Expect phone calls with tears and asking to come home from basic training. It probably won’t happen but be prepared so that you can look after your own feelings and be supportive. Talk beforehand about the fact that it will be tough and about how they can get support if they need it. Try to foster determination to stay for the basic training at least. Agree that this can be the finishing point if they want it to be, but encourage them not to give up half way through.”
- “At times supporting a serving person can feel like a bit of a one-way street (like many areas of being a parent!). Care packages and letters are appreciated, although letters are not always reciprocated.”
- “If you don’t hear from your young person, assume the best and not the worst. If anything serious does happen, you will get to hear about it. No news is usually good news.”
- “Do your best to boost them up and be positive.”
- “Make contact with other parents in the same situation. There are lots of groups and support networks online. The Royal Navy website has a forum and there is a Royal Navy Family and Community Facebook page. There are also numerous unofficial groups and networks that you can access via social media. Please be careful to avoid posting information about operations or ships’ movements, use your privacy settings to limit access to your profile, and don’t identify yourself as a Service person’s family member on your public photos and details. Parents have told us that Facebook groups have been incredibly helpful. They are not always easy to find at most are ‘secret’, so you need to find someone in real life who can introduce you. Some of the parents we spoke to had become friends with other parents of serving people, and found this very helpful.”
- “If your young person is in a relationship with a long-term partner, accept that they may make that relationship a priority when they have time off, and that their time with you may need to take a back seat. This can be tough for any parent, but training and deployment can result in time to invest in relationships being in short supply. As hard as it may be, your young person may have a new centre of gravity in their life. A wise parent will foster a good relationship with their adult child’s partner, and seek to support them through times of separation in an appropriate way.”
- “Equip yourself with information. Find out about what is involved. You can download ‘A Parent and Guardian’s Guide to Careers in the Royal Navy and Royal Marines’ from the RN website that will answer many of your questions. Information packs are given out at new entry training establishments, but if these don’t reach you as a parent you can find all the information you need via the Royal Navy website or from us at the Naval Families Federation.”
Thank you to all the parents who took the time to speak with our team for this article. If you would like to give any feedback about your experiences of being the parent of a serving person, please do get in touch with us.
Free support for all members of the RN/RM community
Strengthening Families – By Your Side was developed by the Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity (RNRMC) and the NFF. The offer aims to provide comprehensive support to RN/RM families whenever and wherever they need it. You can view an infographic below or read on to find out more about relationship support available to you.
‘Building Stronger Families’ portal
The Building Stronger Families portal is a self-directed online learning programme supporting Naval couple and family relationships.
This project is a joint venture between the RNRMC and Relate, which builds on the successful relationship and family counselling introduced in 2016.
Both serving and former RN/RM personnel and their partners can sign up to the service for free, where they will then have access to seven different modules, with topics ranging from military life, sexual communication and intimacy, to family life and parenting.
Relate: Free counselling
Relate are the UK’s largest provider of relationship support. Through funding from the RNRMC, they provide 6 sessions of free face-to-face, online and telephone counselling to the RN/RM community.
This includes help with relationships, help with family life and parenting, help with separation and divorce and help for children and young adults. It also includes bereavement and loss support.
For details on how to access these services, visit Relate’s website.