My eldest hates moving around. She longs for stability, long-term friendships, roots, a home, belonging.
A small part of me understands, but I’ve never felt like I belong anywhere. I grew up in the same house for my first 16 years, and the same state for 29 years. I couldn’t wait to get out of there.
Military life can be stressful, especially for children. There are a lot of unknowns and that’s scary. Deployments, TDYs, PCSes all add to the instability.
It’s always a conundrum when people innocently ask, “So, where are you from?” Do we answer where we were born, where we’re currently living, where our home of record is, or where our favorite “heart home” is?
Most kids don’t have to learn to say goodbye so often.
Change can be so hard.
I don’t like the term “military brat.” I think it has a negative connotation. I realize it’s an acronym: Born, Raised, And Trained. Or for the UK military: British Regiment Attached Traveler.
Kids are never brats. Children are always good. Many behavior issues arise from circumstances and environment. That’s important to realize as a military family.
The official flower of the military child is the dandelion. Why? The plant puts down roots almost anywhere, and it’s almost impossible to destroy. It’s an unpretentious plant, yet good looking. It’s a survivor in a broad range of climates. Military children bloom everywhere the winds carry them. They are hardy and upright. Their roots are strong, cultivated deeply in the culture of the military, planted swiftly and surely. They’re ready to fly in the breezes that take them to new adventures, new lands, and new friends.
My military kids are amazing.
They put up with so much with so few complaints.
How Military Life Prepares Kids for Success in Life:
Resilience and Flexibility
They’re able to adapt brilliantly to different circumstances with joy and ease and contentment. I wish I could say the same for myself! They don’t show their disappointment as much as I do. When our extension was denied, then granted, then denied after all, they took it all in stride and were great examples to me in my meltdown. They look to the positive at every duty station we have lived at, and are (almost) always optimistic!
They know we have to jump in headfirst. The kids organize their rooms for packouts. They set up their rooms in new places. They pack their suitcases and backpacks for travel. They run through a new neighborhood, looking for the playground to make new friends. They are eager to get involved at a new church and find their place in our new community.
They realize the importance of intangible things like travel experiences and fishing trips with Dad before he deploys. They appreciate their friends, even if for only a season. They cherish our unique experiences and the special memories we make. Stuff is just baggage to be packed up and moved every few years. They know not to hold on too tightly to things.
Their attitudes and points of view are broader for having lived in so many different places and for traveling so extensively. They have so many memories of neato experiences. Our family has inside jokes and memories that are so unique to our military lifestyle!
It’s easy to look on the downside of military life with its stresses and separations. But I can’t allow myself to do that very often. I have to maintain a brave face and stay positive to be a role model for my kids.
I realize that I am not in control. We don’t get much say in where we live or when we move. Deployments and TDYS and special tasks pop up suddenly and interfere with plans, with our lives. We can only adapt, stay positive, and pray.
My children appreciate their experiences, even with its ups and downs. For us, it’s just life.
Deployments put us in survival mode.
Goodbyes can be very sad and scary.
We’re due for another deployment this year.
PCS time can be exhausting and stressful.
Long travel and wait times, sometimes in the middle of the night.
Walking into the unknown as we make our way to a new living situation is scary.
My military kids have taught me a lot about life.
There are lots of books out there now for military families.
Some of these are not necessarily about military life or military families, but they’re super helpful during deployment, TDY, PCS, or any other time that books can comfort military kids.
Great Books for Military Families:
- Third Culture Kids by David C. Pollack
- The Kissing Hand Books by Audry Penn
- The Invisible String by
- Night Catch by
- All Those Secrets of the World by
- While You Are Away by
- The Fathers Are Coming Home by
- Lovely Books by Nancy Tillman
- Where Do the Tears Go? by
- The Wishing Tree by
- The Magic Box: When Parents Can’t Be There to Tuck You In by
- This Is Where You Belong: Finding Home Wherever You Are by
- Almost There: Searching for Home in a Life on the Move by