I’m going to turn this into a mini little series based on different milestone markers. This will be part 1 of  4. Today we will cover “so your kid wants to join the ….

Disclaimer: I am not all knowing and would never profess to give guidance on something I do not know. With that said these will be mostly Army related. For other service specific questions please find someone knowledgable for that service. 
It’s the day every parent dreads, mom/dad I met a recruiter and I’m thinking about the … Don’t think your child was fed some slick sales pitch first of all. The most successful recruiters let their career do the talking, telling stories and sharing experiences works best. But now what can you as a parent do?
First and foremost don’t panic. Things will be ok. 
Pre-visit: Odds are that your child wants to be just like or similar to his recruiter. Physiologically we recruit in our own image, I’ve put more MP’s in the Army than anything else. Find out what interests your child and work from there. Make a list of things you want to talk about (education benefits, continuing training, career progression expectations, and day to day for example). Be prepared but listen to your child. Maybe he only wants infantry now that doesn’t mean he will want it down the road. Make a list of career fields he is interested and ask questions about those. Plan the visit out for a specific date and time I can prepare much more detailed information based on your child if I have a heads up. If you fail to plan expect the recruiter to follow suit. 
During visit: I will always want you to come to me. It’s simple I have an advantage on the home turf. I also have the added benefit of my friends in the office that can help with their experience lines up with something that interests your child. Ask your questions, this is an information session. No recruiter can put your kid in the service from their office so stop thinking your child is enlisting right now. Have a conversation, find out about the recruiter what he has done and seen. Talk to the center commander as well. Take notes, ask for handouts explaining the things that are important to you. Ask questions and get into detail about the differences between Active, Reserve and Guard. Make sure you understand how each program works and what they are guaranteeing, not just promising. 
Post visit: sit and talk. You may not want this to happen ever but if your child does enough it will, nothing you can really do about it. Ask questions of where he is and what he liked and didn’t. Validate the information you were given through a secondary means. Shop around, that’s ok just don’t buy into the crap that they sell (I.e. The USAF is the smartest, USMC is toughest, that IS a recruiting pitch. No one is stronger or smarter than anyone else and everyone matters). Evaluate the information for your child and let them drive the conversation. Be supportive not discouraging, if your son wants Airborne Ranger and you talk him into being a computer guy it’s not the recruiter he will be upset with. 
Decision time: Pick the service that is best for your child. Don’t believe the hype of smart/strong make a decision based on the facts. When a decision is made notify the recruiter. 

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