Serving in the military is a challenging experience which offers many opportunities for personal growth. Being the child of someone in the service can be just as rewarding, and just as challenging. Affectionately known as military brats, the day-to-day realities of life in the armed services put unique pressures on these children that teach them to rise to the occasion in surprising ways!
Interesting Ports of Call
As the military keeps its personnel on the move to where they’re needed, their children also find themselves in new places throughout their journey towards adulthood. Many military brats have been to several different schools, and even to other countries. Far from merely being fun, Dr. Jean Kim writes that travel disrupts your routine and introduces novelty to your brain in ways which improve memory recall and problem-solving skills. Kids will also meet a lot of new people they may not have had the opportunity to know otherwise.
How to Say Goodbye
By the time most children are out of diapers, they will have reached an age where they develop a deep need for the company of others their age. Learning how to make friends is an important step in their lives, but so is learning to let go. Being on the move helps military brats of all ages come to terms with the fact that people come and go throughout their lifetime, while also reminding them of how precious the time they have together is.
No one knows the meaning of hard work better than military parents. They must fulfill the heavy burden of duty and then come home to raise children. A day in the life of a soldier can find them tackling challenging engineering issues, or simply cleaning up after a muddy PT session. They bring home this important professional flexibility by teaching their kids the value of self-reliance and that no job is beneath them. These are not just nice things to teach a child, however. Chores and discipline are essential to learning the interpersonal skills military brats will need when they are grown, as well as for the well-being of their relationship with their parents.
The Value of Discipline
Being in a military family means participation in a culture which puts a heavy emphasis on duty and discipline, characteristics which are typically shared with the family. The study, “The Predictors of School Adaptation in Early Childhood” shows that adaptive discipline strategies can help children adapt to their academic environment successfully. This is especially important in a military brat’s life as they are likely to find themselves in more schools than the children of civilians. Likewise, the type of discipline that the military instills in parents can help their kids achieve better socio-behavioral competence so they will be able to have more fulfilling relationships with their friends and teachers.
The Importance of Sacrifice
While children in military families do benefit from their unique lifestyle, each lesson comes with a price. They will have to cope with moving far away from treasured friends, some who they will never see again. Sometimes the disciplinary style of their parents will be more strict than that of their civilian friends’. While finding themselves in new places to live is exciting, it is also stressful to go through the work of building a life in a new community. Military brats learn through these trials that the price of personal liberty is to embrace personal sacrifice for the greater good.
Military brats are a unique lot who enjoy the benefits of getting to see new places and learning the value of hard work. They share the burden of personal sacrifice with their enlisted parents when they say goodbye to friends they’ve made and embrace the virtues of self-discipline. Like their parents, they are heroes in the making.