Chin up, Military Brat! I know that we glossed over quite a few things that make it hard to be the child of an Armed Forces parent, but there are some definite bonuses to growing up in the military. Let’s take each point of what makes it hard to be a military brat and find that silver lining.
Be the child of an active duty parent and expect them to deploy.
First things first: honor your parents for serving in the military. Does this mean you need to cook all of their meals and provide foot massages when they demand it? No…just love them and let them know you understand they’re doing something important and you’re proud of them for it. You may not believe it, but parents do care about what their kids think.
As for those deployments, they are a given now. If you’re lucky, your parent will only be deployed for half a year…others will not have Mom and/or Dad for a full year or eighteen months. The upside is that you get to spend extra time with Grandma and she’s awesome because she likes to bake cookies for you when she knows you’re upset. Plus, it feels good and builds character to help Grandma around the house. Chores are gender-neutral and we all appreciate having help around the house. So roll those sleeves up and help Grandma clean the gutters–then you can have that cookie.
Do not have long-term childhood friends…but make new ones and stay connected!
Leaving your friends is probably one of the hardest things to deal with. However staying connected with friends is so much easier now than it used to be. Social media is a great way to keep in contact. Is it the same as getting to hang out in person? No…but the cliché “something is better than nothing” applies here and military brats are good at adjusting to new norms, remember? As you move from place to place, email, social media, and our reliable postal service will keep you connected to all your friends, old and new.
Be ready to grieve the loss of anything familiar…but get ready for “Dampfnudeln”!
Yes, it’s unbelievably hard to leave your family, friends, and familiar surroundings and lifestyle. But the tremendous upside is you get a whole new world of experiences. You might learn to ask in Japanese, Italian, or French, “Where is the bathroom”? It’s fun learning about the culture and habits of your adopted country and one of the best parts is experiencing the holidays their way. Don’t believe me? Go to a Christmas Market in Germany and follow your nose to the “Dampfnudeln” stand. Life. Changing.
We’re not done yet! The Love Fest for the military brat way of life continues in the next segment…
CJ Heath is a military brat. She has lived in several different states and experiences tours in Okinawa and Europe. Although she never learned to ask, “Where is the bathroom?” in Japanese, she’s had far more than her fair share of Dampfnudeln.