Most military parents share fears about how the military lifestyle will affect their kids. What if the kids hate moving? What if they fall behind in school? Is it better to ‘geobach,’ or move to a remote assignment and risk being the new kid yet again?
SpouseBuzz to the rescue! We consulted a panel of (rather young) experts. Who better to report back on being a military kid than military kids themselves?
The Real Experts on Life as a Military KidAmber, 20
As an older military brat, Amber admits frequent school changes are a challenge, especially when she’s lost credit hours for classes she’d already completed. But while moving makes things difficult, she credits the military lifestyle with her open-mindedness—plus her penchant to dive into new foods.
Amber also said her dad’s lengthy deployments, though difficult at the time, certainly didn’t ruin her life.
“Even though he isn’t here much,” she said, “he still takes care of the family. I’m more proud of him as a dad than as a man in the military.”
Zane’s mom worries that talking to her 4-year-old son about their upcoming move or his dad’s deployment might make him feel sad if he wasn’t already thinking about it. When she tested the waters, it turned out he is thinking about it anyway.
“I feel sad about Dad being gone,” Zane says. “I really miss Daddy. I know I’ll see him again, but I don’t know when I’ll see him.”
When asked what helps him feel better, his answer is quick: visits from his out-of-state cousins. “That makes it better!” he says enthusiastically.
He knows what his dad does is important: “He is protecting us.” Zane is also looking forward to moving because he gets to watch extra TV while the movers pack the house, and when moving to the new duty station. “I like watching cartoons in the car all day when we’re driving and driving,” he said.
As for the friends, teachers and classmates he’ll leave behind when the family moves this summer, he acknowledged he’d miss them, but his real concern was for a smiley brunette in his class: “Carla isn’t going to see me anymore,” he says shyly before running off to play.
Annika is already anxious about the family’s next move, even though it’s two years away. “When we move, I’ll be sad, because I’ll have to break up with Jackson,” she tells her mom, Mary.
Staying put is an option for the family, but Annika is the one who wants the family to move back to their previous overseas post in Japan.
“She’s torn,” says Mary. “She wants them both, equally!”
Annika says the new places she’s visited because of her military family lifestyle is fun: always “nice and adventurous.” And besides visiting Tokyo Disney and her friends, the other things she misses might surprise you: “I miss all the sumo wrestling,” she says. “I miss a lot of that.”
Annika is proud of what her dad does, both because it makes him happy, and because it makes her happy: “I really like that he’s in the Navy, because we can move to different places, and we can explore new things!”
When her dad’s deployed, Annika says it feels like she has a great family, just not a full family. “It feels awful,” she says. Still, she knows it’s important—and ok—to have fun and spend time with friends. And once he’s home, she knows he’s safe. “I feel proud,” she says.
So if you’re worried about how the military lifestyle is affecting your kids, talk to them! You might be surprised what you learn.