need advice

hi all,
spent ages on the net finding a forum that could maybe offer me some advice. my 18yr old son is just about to finish his first 6weeks training for the rifles at catterick. (forgive me if my army knowledge is crap) anyway i went up for a parents day and at the end my son was given 24hrs leave, to which he came home. i need advice basically because he has changed is it normal for their emotional state to be up and down like a roller coaster, he seems depressed but happy to be fullfilling his ambition. he has admitted it is 100percent harder than he imagined. he seems to be doing fine there tho, but he is anxious about not being up to scratch i.e doing his drill so he can get his beret??? i had a long talk with him last night and am really concerned into his wellbeing, in the last 5 weeks alone he has been seriously toughened up, i hear his stories about camping out in -10' c, his stag, his bollockings all of which he has rose to the challenge and accepted it. he has admitted he is very homesick, yet when he came home he felt anxious to get back and couldnt relax, he genuinely seems depressed. can anyone who can relate to any of this please advise me on the best way to handle his quietness and emotional swings, and let me know if they have thier own personal experiences to share with me. i just want to support him cos i know he will make a great soldier.
thanks guys
I wouldn't worry too much. Just think on, he has just left home for the first time, he's gone through basic training and will have learnt a lot about himself and grown up fast at the same time. Lots of people say that basic is designed to "break you, to make you". Just make sure he knows you will be there for him. A text a night?

Hope it all works out OK for you.


Firstly, great to hear your son is joining the Army, particularly the Infantry and it's good to see that you are very supportive, he's lucky to have supportive parents.

It's a hell of a thing to go through at 18 and the first 6 weeks are the most traumatic, I think most of us understand exactly what he's feeling right now and probably nothing for you to worry about. The process of becoming a soldier is emotionally and physically draining. Whilst the training regime is quite tough, I think most of the stress is self induced - the fear of letting yourself down but also the fear of letting your section down. He has probably got a lot going on in his head at the moment, a combination of being physically and mentally drained, elated and proud of getting through the first bit, worry and anxiety about what he is facing in the next phase, self doubt and anxiety about whether he will make it and worry about letting himself, his family and his section down if he doesn't make it through.

It's normal to see a change in people after the first 6 weeks - normally, they walk taller, have something about them, pride, self confidence. They are also usually a bit less cocky, a little more humble and more mature. It's also normal to have a heavy burden of anxiety on your shoulders all the way through training - I still get anxious butterflies and a shiver down my spine when I drive past the gates of where I did my training, years and years later! :)

Of course, do keep an eye on him, make sure that he knows you respect and support him but also that if it's not for him and the emotional stress is REALLY too much, it's okay to leave and you will support him with whatever he does. However, in a few months, training will be over - it doesn't last forever, it gets easier and I'm sure he'll feel a lot better on his next leave weekend.
hi guys,
thanks for the messages and the positive feedback, its reassuring to know my sons feelings and state of mind at this time is pretty normal to what he has been going through. thanks for the advice on how i can support him through this also it is very much appreciated.
great site as well, i have been reading a lot of the posted items and it has certainly increased my knowledge and awareness on a vast amount of subjects, cheers everyone.
you dont need advice you just need reassurance, that's obvious from your posts.
Is Catterick hard? of course it is, its where we have to change boys to men.
Sorry if that's harsh but, the private soldier is the life blood of the infantry, he does all the work, puts in longer hours, and must be prepared for constant fluidity in his environment as well as be permanently aware of the responsibility placed upon him.
You cant really comprehend whats going round his head at the moment, I understand that, I'm both soldier and parent of soldier so forgive me for sounding conceited.
His head is a bowl of soup with discipline, physical training, drill, weapons, deportment, abbreviations, acronyms, little reminder ditties etc, which frankly, instructors are made to enforce the need for all of these to sink in and be recalled as an instinct.
Hell seem tired, drawn but in a more physically robust kind of way, down and up, hes proud of what he sees around him, (career soldiers the best we have, all displaying the imaginary badge that says "I am proud of being the best there is" )and also the rest of the recruits, he needs to get away from any of them who is constantly down or saying their leaving because "its harder than I thought" that will drag him back, but at the same time hopefully there are some more guys going to the same regiment there with him, as right now he is making bonds that will last a life time,
these men as they emerge become part of the best military machine in the world, will stick together through thick and thin, when the chips are down will save each other, and for many years to come be so very proud of what they are, AN INFANTRY SOLDIER
oh yes and as for yourself, your just being a good supportive mum.

all the best to you and the lad H-S
All the posts above are spot on, this is speaking from someone still serving after 20 years and who's son has just finished a year at the AFC. It is a god thing him wanting to get back sharpish to ITC as it shows he's got good ties and is thinking of his section and training to come, it would be a lot harder for him to go back otherwise. Speaking to my lad one of the biggest stresses his mates spoke of is having to go round visiting friends and relatives (grandparents etc) when they only have a short time at home and get asked the same questions over and over. One little thing you might be able to help him with next time is to get all the family to visit him on a certain day on his next leave, this takes pressure off of him. As all parents will find even though your lads 18 you do find it hard to let go, just keep showing him the good support your obviously giving him and look at the other 18 year olds out there who arent trying to do something with their lives and be proud of him.

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