April brings with it many reasons to celebrate, but one of our community’s favorite reasons is a no-brainer: The Month of the Military Child. Raising well-rounded children that are ready to contribute greatly to society is no small feat and a goal of any parent. Though every child is special and unique in their own way, there’s no mistaking: The military child learns hard life lessons early on in life that prepares them for adulthood.
When you’re in the middle of raising children, it’s messy and hard and nobody feels like they're doing it right. I don’t know anyone, even incredibly amazing parents, who is in a constant state of “I totally rock at this parenting thing.” Add that at any given moment, our children are usually either in a transition period or about to begin a transition of some type, and we parents are often wondering if we’re doing more harm than good.
To that I say: We are preparing them for the real world, and they’ll be better for it.
Think about it, a military child's entire life is one big teachable moment. In honor of The Month of the Military Child, here are 5 ways the military child is uniquely prepared for life as an adult:
1. They know true patriotism.Like the good ole USA, what we consider patriotism comes in many different forms. Anyone can fly a flag or stand for the National Anthem and call it patriotism. Our kids grow up seeing true patriots, up close and personal. That saying, “Real Heroes don’t wear capes” is never truer than for those who send their Mom/Dad off to fight in what seems to be a never-ending state of war. Military kids understand that at the end of the day, their parents are called to protect the freedoms of ALL Americans -- even the freedoms that we don’t agree with or find to be disrespectful.
2. Life’s not fair and things rarely go as planned.Birthdays, holidays, school plays, recitals and sports make up a large part of a child’s life and are that much more special when those you love can celebrate with you. No matter how much we plan and prepare, sometimes duty calls and plans change. Military kids learn early on that just because a person isn’t there physically, doesn’t mean their heart isn’t with you.
3. This is our childhood, it’s not that serious.We all know, unfortunately, that kids are capable of being mean. As they get older and their days are spent at school with outside influences, there will be many drama-filled instances and hurt feelings. Military children have a sense of “this (relationship/friendship) probably won’t last forever and I can end it whenever I’m ready." That attitude gives them the ability to put trivial matters (and people!) aside at a young age; a perspective which will serve them well as an adult.
4. Out of sight doesn’t always mean out of mind.On the flip side of number three, our kids have a leg-up in continuing important friendships and connecting with family. Thanks to technological advances, a deployment no longer means they won’t see their parent’s face for several months on end. It also means they can cultivate the friendships from their last duty station and “see” their extended family often. So while they understand early to walk away from toxic relationships, they also have an acute awareness to make the most out of the relationships that mean a lot to them, even if they're time zones and oceans apart.
5. Bloom Where You Are Planted.The ultimate childhood lesson that military children receive is adventure is everywhere, around every corner. Moving away from their home, school and friends is a major life event most of America never experiences. At some point in growing up as a military child, while it still saddens them to leave all they know behind, they approach the move with a sense of what is being gained, rather than what is being lost. It’s beautiful and exciting to witness them adapt to their lifestyle. As a parent, it may be one of your proudest moments to see your kid embrace such a challenging situation and remain positive. Sure, there’s risk and it won’t always go smoothly...
But that's life -- it’ll never be perfect. And knowing that your military children can seek out the good in trying times? It's one of those small moments that lets you know…you may be “totally rocking at this parent thing” after all.