Day 1 – IWS23 Recap: Cultivating Empathy in Early Childhood with Shermaine Perry-Knights

by | Sep 26, 2023 | Articles, Blog, Family, IWS23, Parenting, PCS / Moving

“I move a lot, and that’s okay!” 

Listening to Shermaine, a military child and now an adult military child, gives us such deep insight into what military children go through and how parents can help their families along the way. As a mom who never moved as a child, I find it difficult to understand what my military children genuinely feel and have to check myself to parent them from a different angle. Shermaine’s points started a beautiful conversation with my husband on what our teens are going through and how hard it is to be (in our case) one of the few military children in their school. 

Parents are often distracted and too busy with all the intricacies of the moves and the enormity of what is on their shoulders, so what the children are going through, really going through, often needs to be noticed and understood.

 As the author of the book series, all ending with “And that’s okay” (I move a lot, and that’s okay), a phrase that could not be more perfect, she takes children through all the ups and downs of a military move. It is a story told through the eyes of either Grace or Axel.

The insight from these books into possible moments that could be lost for many parents could be the starting point for finding a place of connection and communication in the family. Her books are, as she said, “the books I needed when I was a military child.” Her goal is for parents to use these books to start sharing and speaking with their children about what it feels like to be a Dependent in a world where they have very little control over their lives.

It is an excellent reminder that military children go through so many more emotions than non-military children. A tip was shared that parents can ask their younger children to draw how they feel instead of asking them to verbalize their emotions. Then, pause and take that picture they draw to see how they can support their children in what feelings are coming up throughout the process of leaving and arriving somewhere new.

Related Reading: Two Things Are True: Helping Children Know A Paradox Of Feelings Is Okay

She mentions how we could bring the children into planning the next step, giving them some part in the preparations and asking them for ideas. In my own family, I have always told my kids, “We are going on a family adventure,” and that has often gotten the little ones on board. But the idea to give them some control over their changing lives is a great one. 

She shares her ideas on opening the lines of communication more often during a highly stressful move. Whether you have little ones or teens, they all have to let go and grieve some part of their lives as they know it. It is crucial to create a space where they can express and share what they are going through. 

By the end of the conversation between Shermaine and Jen Amos, I felt that if this is what two adult military children grow up to be, I think we have some extraordinary people to look forward to.

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Joanne Holbrook is a mother of two and spouse to a United States Army Officer who has moved every two years for the past 18 years. She has lived and raised her family in South Africa, England, Germany, Australia, and across the United States, and is currently living in Hawaii. As a South African, combined with her world travels, including her 25 years of teaching in performing arts high schools, has allowed Joanne to observe culture and parenting from
multiple international perspectives.

She is the author of the four-time award-winning book “Your Passport To Parenting,” which has been translated into multiple languages, and a professional keynote speaker, parenting course creator, and facilitator who shares parenting stories to help build positive, values-based families worldwide.

Connect with Joanne: Social Media: Facebook Instagram LinkedIn TikTok

Sign up for her online course IGNITE – fire up your parenting spirit at


Day 1 – IWS23 Recap: Rediscover New Beginnings with Amanda Dodson, Doula
Day 2 – IWS23 Recap: Holistic Care for Teens with Dr. Amber Mattingly
Day 2 – IWS23 Recap: Parenting in Blended Families with Chaplain (LTC) Terrell Jones
Day 3 – IWS23 Recap: Adult Children and Extended Family Relationships with Corie Weathers, LPC

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