Shout out to the N*avy Dads

When my talented friend Annie Shine asked me to do another podcast with her, I said yes without really caring about the chosen topic. First, it was a chance to hang out with her, which I will never pass up. Second, I knew it would be N*avy-related, and we all know I can’t find enough ways to talk about that topic.

Mile 0.

When she said it would specifically be about a N*avy Dad’s perspective, I was totally intrigued. I’ve written time and again that despite the uniformity of USNA, every Mid has their own path, their own reason(s) for being there, and their own ultimate goal. I’ve also encouraged parents to repeat this mantra – “your experience is the right experience,” because N*avy parents, too, each have a unique experience and perspective. It’s easy for those outside the military academy bubble to paint us with a broad brush, but we’ve all seen it – parents who are relentless cheerleaders while some wear out their hands with constant hand-wringing and those who vacillate between the two. Parents whose kids have the perfect USNA experience and those who feel like it’s a four-year ticket to trauma therapy while most live somewhere in between.

But it’s not only Mid-dependent. Each parent has a unique experience. The relationship between a son or daughter and each parent is inherently different. That’s not to say every daughter and father have the same relationship, but it’s almost a certainty that the daughter will have a different relationship with Mom than with Dad. Not better. Not worse. Just different.

I found a kindred spirit in the USAFA Class of 2026. Air Force parents do their Waldo hunting on a platform called Web Guy and he shared that he didn’t let the mom see all the photos of their Basic Cadet because he knew some would send her into a tailspin. That was one of my jobs during Plebe Summer – filtering photos. And my Plebe’s Mom isn’t on Facebook – thank GOD – so I could also filter the tidbits I was picking up from other parents. That was my job. The conversations our Plebe had with me were much different than he had with his mother. Not that he didn’t share everything with both of us, but our discussions would tend to go in a certain direction, while when he talked with Mom, they went in another. Both important (to both parties), but different.

I actually found it helpful to have the Mid Mom somewhat detached from the day-to-day (OK, let’s be honest, minute-to-minute) goings on. Sometimes having someone who understood the situation but kept it somewhat at arm’s length allowed me to get a clearer perspective. Being neck-deep can lead to some warped perspectives, especially given the strain I felt during Plebe year.

The added bonus that this discussion allowed me to share the mic not only with Annie but her amazing husband Jeff was truly the cherry on the sundae. There was only one real downside to the whole operation – it ended way too soon. I could have chatted with them all evening. While it was a joy for me, I hope that some of the Class of 2026 parents – especially the dads – find it of some benefit. And I hope I did well enough that I get invited to do another one. 🙂

Here’s the podcast in case you missed it (sorry, I tried to embed the podcast here but it kept disappearing): Or listen here

And if you can’t get enough of my incessant yammering, here’s another podcast Annie invited me to be a part of (sorry again about no embed)

I’m also humbled and proud to say she has joined me to help build my annual Herndon Playlist (and am so thankful to find someone else who loves Herndon as much as I do) – Class of 2026, I’m already working on yours, and, let me tell you, I’m really stoked!

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