What thoughts and associations appear in your head when you hear about military families? Are they about strict discipline, restraint, patriotism, honor or tolerance, perhaps, or about soldiers’ loyal wives following their husbands all over the world? But have you ever thought about children in military families, so called military kids? Undoubtedly, they are part or even heart of such families and, thus, they have got extraordinary lives. It happened that I just was a military kid from a military family. Curiously enough, but all circumstances of my lifespan seemed common.
1. Getting Used to Regular Moving
How many times do ordinary people move? Well, once or twice during their life. Military families can move almost every year, changing the place of residence five to 15 times during their service. I was lucky because we moved only 10 times when I was a child. From the child’s point of view, moving is a real adventure. You can see and learn many new things! New countries, new traditions, new people, new superstitions…
2. Meeting New People
Officers’ children are much more sociable than children from average families. How many classmates did you have? I had more than 300 because I changed four schools in the USA and six ones in other countries before my graduation. Sometimes this can be rather stressful. Each time I had to adapt to a new team, meet new friends. That was a precious experience.
On the other hand, the frequent change of schools does not lead to success in your academic performance. I had to catch up the school program sometimes. For example, once I went to a new school, it was my fourth grade, where I had to learn French as a second language. In that school, French was taught starting from the second grade. I have never learned it before. It was hard for me to catch up. Furthermore, I had to learn some extremely important phrases in Spanish, Persian, Hindi and Turkish to find common ground with our neighbors. Another great problem was to get used to absolutely new non-verbal means of communication, customs and superstitions not only abroad, but even in other regions of our country.
3. Leaving Friends
Moving somewhere else means not only changing places, homes and schools. It means leaving friends and mates. It’s hard and even painful sometimes. I am not a robot. I am a real person with human feelings. And I am a kind of person who gets close to people in a very short period of time. How it was aching to leave them behind. My mother thought that I was only a little girl, and she told me with a cute smile: “You’ll meet other friends, even better than yours!” But it was not only about friends. My sorrow was about everybody: neighbors, shop assistants, hairdressers, drivers, etc. Only imagine: I had been building my own world for a long time, and suddenly it was broken – and I was building it again and again. For a kid, it’s a huge lump of work and force.
4. Waiting Can Be Hard for Kids
The saddest thing in my childhood was when my father had to deploy. This meant that I would not see him in the nearest month or even longer. After long goodbyes, I had the feeling that I would miss him very much, but I could do nothing to make him stay. It was an insurmountable fear of unpredictable events or news about my father, who was far away. The fear has increased since my friend’s father perished. Anyway, I’m sure that waiting for a parent is the worst thing for every military kid. Nevertheless, after long waiting, he would come back home, and in such moments I was fulfilled with happiness. I really do think that contemporary military kids are lucky, because of the advent of the Internet and Skype. They are able to communicate with their military parents across any distance. But for me as a child it was impossible, and I was very upset sometimes about the lack of chatting with my dad looking into his wise and kind eyes.
What are the Pros and Cons of Raising a Military Family?
Well, there are some privileges for military families. For example, if you are a military parent, your child may be able to attend college for free, or your life insurance will be very inexpensive. Moreover, your family can be shielded from certain taxes. In addition, you can have a special legal protection. There are several military education support programs and military childcare programs. You are able to choose one of them which can be suitable for your child. One more reason why military kids are lucky – they are proud of their military parents. It’s a real honor to be a member of a military family.
However, there are some disadvantages of raising a military family. You have to overcome risks all the time. Life is not constant for such families. You need to move regularly, meet new people over and over again. You have to become accustom to leaving your environment back with all people who became dear to you. And you have to go through many deployments. These things can be very stressful and harmful even for adults, not to mention kids.
How to Thrive and Overcome Risks?
I think that this question sounds rather rhetorical because for each family there is a unique formula for happiness. But I am absolutely convinced that military families need to pay careful attention to kids’ inner world. And I can say to all military parents: “Show concern about your children’s feelings, consider their opinions, spend more time together, and just simply express your love to them!”
All in all, till the world needs servicemembers and military families, and military kids need a special attitude of authorities and our society.
Helen Birk is a freelance writer from Connecticut. She has obtained excellent writing skills under the leadership of EduBirdie. As Kevin Nealon said, “When you discover that you are going to have a child, it stirs up memories of your own childhood.” Currently, Helen is writing a book for future military parents. She wants to tell them about advantages and disadvantages of being a child of a military family, explaining what such children feel, and giving advice and solutions to some possible problems. The book is based on her own life experience.
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