MoMC 2021 Blog
Military Kids are Mighty
April is Month of the Military Child. During this month, we recognize the strength and sacrifice made by military-connected kids like you.
We know military kids face unique challenges.
Living Military Ready
A big part of being in the military is maintaining military readiness. Service members have to be able to adapt to the needs of the military mission.
Military kids also feel the effect of "always be ready." Sometimes this means your parent's commitments, schedule, or future change quickly or unexpectedly. It can mean canceled events or rushed plans. You've probably seen how "always ready" means "always adapting."
Trying to be ready for anything can lead to a general sense of uncertainty. Anticipating change can make it hard to relax. Routines may not feel as comforting. Sometimes it can feel like no one can give you clear answers about what to expect.
You might feel like you're just...waiting. And then, suddenly, things are happening really quickly. That "hurry-up-and-wait" pace can be jarring.
Living military ready means you serve too.
You can often be separated from your military parents. Your parents can be away for weeks or months of training. This frequent time away means there's a "new normal" in your family every few months. Parents can be deployed into uncertain conditions. Sometimes military parents are assigned to an unaccompanied duty station, which means living apart from them for one to two years.
These separations can lead to:
- Increased responsibility at home
- Anxiety about your parent's safety
- Limits on how much or how often you get to talk to them
Military kids often grow up faster than other kids. You have worries other kids don't. You learn to be resourceful. That might mean finding friends and mentors to help out. It might mean becoming more independent or solving your own problems.
Separations mean you sacrifice too.
Military life often means moving because your parent has a permanent change of station.
Military kids move three times more often than most civilian kids. You could move six to nine times while growing up. Some kids move more than a dozen times!
Each of those moves can come with a lot of changes:
- New friends
- New teachers
- New neighborhood
- Different available activities
- Different weather
- Different food
- Varied countries and cultures
Moving can have its upsides. You might get to experience cultures other kids don't. Military kids often may be more open-minded to a diverse range of people and aware of cultural differences. This can help you as a leader, as you can understand and communicate with many different people.
You can also learn more about what you like and don't like. New experiences might open your mind to future careers or goals you wouldn't have considered.
But moving can also make it hard to feel rooted. You might struggle to get close to others because you know you'll be saying goodbye. You might hold off from getting emotionally involved. Or you might hold onto a core group of friends or family, forging a closeness and commitment others kids don't get.
Moving means you adapt and overcome too.
Celebrating Military Kids
Military kids are often self-starters, problem solvers, and leaders. These qualities are why, according to the Military Child Education Coalition, the dandelion is considered the official flower of the military child:
Pat Conroy, writing about his experiences as a military child, wrote about the need to "[salute military] children, their fine and resourceful children, who were strangers in every town they entered, thanking them for their extraordinary service to their country, for the sacrifices they made over and over again to the United States of America, to its ideals of freedom, to its preservation and to its everlasting honor."
In 1986, Secretary of Defense Caspar W. Weinberger designated each April as "The Month of the Military Child." It is a time to thank military children for their service, recognize their incredible strength, and offer them support in facing their unique challenges.
You serve, and you are mighty.
Wertsch, M. E. (2006). Military brats: Legacies of childhood inside the fortress. St. Louis, MO: Brightwell Publishing.