Trying to Understand the Military Child

Military children are very unique. They are also known as Military Brats. BRAT stands for Bold, Responsible, Adaptable and Tolerant. I’m not a Brat myself, but I have two of my own. Here’s what I see in them:

The military child is bold because they have to be. Their parents only make up one percent of the population so course they are going to take on some of those unique qualities. Don’t get me wrong though…they know how to be their own independent person while having the quality of being very passionate about their hobby or cause, and and you can often see them researching and practicing this topic to the umpteenth degree. Maybe this gets their mind off of their friend leaving and their parent being deployed. They also use this boldness to make new friends when they move. Even more shy military children are more likey to befriend the random person that talks to them at recess than your typical civilian shy child.

The military child is of course more responsible than a typical child. They are asked to deal with more adult situations like deployments, moving or living on a military installation. If you really think about it, even living on base has so many rules, those of us that have done it for a while, so we don’t think about it; for example: stopping when the music plays or knowing when to listen to the Big Voice (the base speaker system). They are not completely responsible since they’re still children, but we do ask and expect more of them simply because of the job their parent picked. The nice thing is ….

This makes the military child adaptable. They can adapt to what they don’t like and to good changes as well. They are just like regular children, but they also have to deal with different stressors even many adults never have to face. A conselor once told me moving can be more trumatic than a death. For my family and I, it’s just another Tuesday. This is something to think about though because it can affect how our children interact with the world. Many times these moves can be good in that they see and understand more of the world, it’s cultures, and appreciate America more. The downside is sometimes they may find it hard to make lasting, meanful relationships because they feel nothing is permanent. This is why it’s important to talk to our kids and let them talk to conselors if needed. The great thing is the military has abundant resources for this through the chaplains, Military Family Life Conselors (MFLCs), Family Advocacy and Military OneSource. These are all free to use when military children and/or their families are having a difficult time or need to learn new coping strategies. So yes, while it’s important to know these kids are more adaptable than many, they still need support systems and guidance as well.

The military child is tolerant. You will see this a lot at DODS schools. They invite the new kid (which for them is 2 weeks or less) at their lunch table or in the recess football game. They usually accept everyone for who they are and whatever belief they might have. They are the masters at not letting you know if they don’t necessarily agree with you but still being cordial. I believe this is because they can be more knowledgeable about geography and history. My kids knew more about the US geography than many adults by age 10 because they had been to many of those states. They also eventually learned about Europe and the Middle East as they got older and we had more experiences through the Air Force. They know of the experience of eating a baguette in Paris, seeing Old Faithful in Yellowstone and hearing Big Ben chime in London. My son especially likes history and knows an insane amount about the World Wars. It’s hard to hate things if you have an understanding of them.

If you have the privilege of running into a military child, thank and support them. They didn’t chose this life but they all do an amazing job of being important members in their families and letting us borrow their parent on occasion.

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