They’re called, “Military Brats,” somewhat derisively. To some outside the military lifestyle, kids who often have to move with their parents from duty station to duty station, and therefore school to school, cannot possibly be getting everything they need from their childhood. Those who have grown up in a military family, however, can attest to some key strengths that kids growing up in a military household tend to develop more quickly and keenly than their civilian-household counterparts. Here are five examples:
A Cosmopolitan Nature
When she’s twenty-one, your daughter may be sitting in a European history class in college, explaining to her peers how you took her through the Brandenburg Gate. Your son may explain to his world literature class how the parchment looked on the 1500-year-old haikus he saw displayed in the art museum in Okinawa.
It has long been known by those who travel that traveling broadens the mind and opens us up to new perspectives on life – something that those who do not travel may never discover.
And all of this is compounded when you consider the opportunities military children have to learn many different languages! The opportunity to learn and expand horizons is endless. Giving your children an early appreciation for the world is a huge benefit of military lifestyle.
Improvisation and Flexibility
A military family must be flexible. As adults, it can often be hard for people to “learn” to be flexible, but military kids are taught flexibility right out of the womb. It’s hard to get rigidly entrenched in a set of habits if your life circumstances don’t stay constant long enough for you to do so. The result is that military kids are more easily adapted to new and potentially stressful situations because they’ve been conditioned to be so resilient and adaptive – it’s all they know. This makes military children very skilled at coming up with creative solutions and improvising in tough or challenging situations.
Fortitude and Maturity
Nobody likes dealing with hardships, but as the old saying goes, that which doesn’t kill you can only make you stronger. Military kids have to deal with difficult situations often – like separation from family and friends, general uncertainties, and other concerns that other kids their age may not be facing. With the right support (and the right support is out there), your children can come away from these situations with a new sense of toughness and fortitude, as well as maturity.
Community and Social Skills
When you move from school to school, you need to learn how to make new friends quickly. This translates into the ability to navigate complicated social situations later in life with ease. Now, instead of being nervous when your son’s boss asks him to a holiday cocktail party, he’ll be confident, knowing that he can walk into just about any room and find someone to talk to.
Similarly, the military is its own tight-knit community, and military kids themselves often share a unique bond with one another.
A Sense of Civic Duty and a Commitment to Service
Children get their values from their parents. Now, while those values may change over time, their roots are often with us for life. Children of military parents see examples every day of people who wake up every morning and sacrifice for their family, their community, their branch of service and comrades in arms, and their country. Those children see first-hand the necessity of civic virtue, and of placing, as the Air Force’s Core Value states, “Service Before Self.”
So then, while growing up in a military family does have its challenges, it’s clear that there are also many benefits as well. Your child is a part of a very large community that takes care of its own and will develop some great character traits as he or she grows up as a “military brat.”