Lessons for My Military Children

ImageApril is the Month of the Military Child. In honor of military children around the world, especially the three special ones in my house, I am going to focus my writing this month on them.

As any parent would, I have several lessons I would like to bestow upon my children. As we begin to prepare for another possible move, I find myself thinking about the lessons I would like my three kiddos to learn, specifically from the life as a military family. 

Our Country & Our World

  1. Many people ask us why we do what we do (choosing to be a military family). I bet one day, you too will wonder why our family does what it does. Serving our country is important to your Dad and me. It’s not always easy, but it’s important to be a part of something that is bigger and serves more than just your self.
  2. While at your young age, our country and world seems totally huge and gigantic… it’s really not. We have one little planet and one human race to take care of; it is our responsibility to do our best. Being a military family is one of the ways our family contributes to the greater good.
  3. Our country and world are made up of a variety of cultures, incredible scenery, and amazing people… being a military family affords us the opportunity to experience so many unique parts of our world. Open your heart and mind to these cultures, environments, and people… you will be a better person for it!
  4. We may or may not always agree with the choices our government makes. We may or may not have voted for our leaders. But we are part of a democratic system… it is our responsibility to vote and our responsibility to accept that sometimes our choices might not win out. However, we should always be respectful. Always stand-up and be quiet during the playing of our National Anthem… and if your friends are being loud and disrespectful, nudge them with your elbow and show them what to do.

Moving

  1. Sometimes, moving is the pits: Saying “good-bye/see ya later” to dear friends is hard and it hurts your heart. It’s okay to feel sad when we leave good people and good places… it’s proof that we have lived life to the fullest. Cherish those friendships and memories. They are worth emails, phone calls and texts (when you are old enough to have a phone), FaceTime calls, and plane tickets!
  2. For anywhere between two weeks and a month (or more?!) all of our household goods are packed up into boxes and put on a truck. We won’t see them, or use them, or need them. This is kind of great. We have each other, we have food, we have enough clothes to get us through. The most important “things” in our life are not our things at all… the movers only have our stuff… we – our family- are our treasures.
  3. While moving is hard and sad, it is also an awesome adventure that gives us the opportunity to see new places and meet new people. You may have no idea what is waiting for you at our next home, but I guarantee that you have many good things ahead of you. Trust in the future and be bold!
  4. Not all families get to try on new houses, new neighborhoods, and new cities every three years or so. We get to try new paint colors, new curtains, and new bedroom layouts. We get to make new friends, plant new gardens, and enjoy new seasons. We get to explore new museums, eat at new restaurants, and be a part of a new community. Make the most of where our Navy path takes us; let’s leave a little bit of our family’s love in each new city and take a little bit of that city with us when we leave. Memories will last forever.

Separation

  1. Being a military child, means you have had to spend pretty big chunks of time away from your Dad. This is the hardest part of being a military family, and we (your Mom and Dad) know it’s hard for you too. We are proud of how well you handle this challenge and are impressed by your strong hearts.
  2. When you struggle with the challenge of Daddy being away and act out at school or home, we understand. While “being frustrated because I miss Dad” is not an excuse for poor behavior choices, we understand you are coping the best you can. Sometimes Mom and Dad are super frustrated and want to have a melt-down too…. Sometimes we actually do!
  3. When Dad is gone, you are stuck with just me… your mom. I know I don’t have all the answers to your many science-y, engineering-y questions. I know my wrestling, swing-pushing, and daredevil-allowing skills do not reach the supreme level of your Father’s. I know that sometimes it’s probably pretty boring and monotonous to wake-up and see only me all day long, every single day. I know all that, and I’m okay that I don’t measure up to being both Mom and Dad. I give you my very best Mom skills and Mom love, and I fill in as much as I can in the Dad skills and love too… but there is no replacing your Dad, and that’s okay. He’s pretty awesome.
  4. No matter how far away the Navy sends your Dad, he’s really not all that far away. There is a little bit of him in each one of you and as your Mom, it is a treat for me to see him shine through you! The Navy can’t really separate us from your Dad, because he is always in our hearts and on our minds… and your smiles, and the funny way you sniff your nose, and your laugh, and your dance moves…

Family & Friends

  1. The military life gives us the opportunity to have friends throughout the Unites States and the world. Not every civilian kid can say they have friends on the East Coast, Midwest, West Coast, Hawaii, Japan, and Germany…. But you can! That’s pretty neat. Enjoy having friends all over the world… keep in touch with them, learn from them, and visit them as much as you can!
  2. While the Navy has moved us many times, they have yet to move us close to our family. So while our blood-relatives are far away, we lean on and share our daily lives with our military family. These are the people who just so happen to be stationed with us, but who held you when you were first born, cheered for you when you learned how to ride a two-wheel bike, celebrated birthdays with you, listened to you talk about your latest Lego creation, picked you up from school, went to your dance recitals, shared meals with you, shared stories with you, shared memories with you… and so much more. Our family tree is more like a family vine… we have become so entangled with other branches that we can no longer tell where our family ends and theirs begins. We are so very blessed to be part of such an amazing military family.
  3. We always wish we could see our extended family more. The lucky part of living far away from our family, is that when we do get to see them, we get to have them stay with us! If we lived closer to them we might visit them during the day and then go home to our own homes. But when we are so far apart, they get to come visit with us and tuck you in bed and sing you goodnight lullabies. You get to wake up with them and eat breakfast with them. You get to share your entire every day with them. Visits from your grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and other family may not fully make up for all the time we don’t get to see them, but those visits are so very special and need to be appreciated.
  4. When it comes down to it, through the moves, the separations, the friends that come and go, OUR military family… the three of you… are the most important thing to your Dad and me. Although we may not be able to “put down roots” I pray that you will always know, without a doubt, that you are rooted in our hearts. No matter where the Navy sends us, you will always have a place to call home because you will always have your Dad and me.
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About blogheavenstobetsy

Me... a military wife (Go Navy!), a mom, and just me. Writing about the adventures our family has from the day-to-day to the amazing opportunities afforded us by my husband's career. Blessed beyond belief and trying to capture it all with words. View all posts by blogheavenstobetsy

18 responses to “Lessons for My Military Children

  • Kris

    We are getting ready to PCS so this was perfect to read today. Go Navy! 🙂

  • Jill

    I love this. Betsy! Good job.

  • Monica Boyce

    This is so well put and all very true! Thanks for sharing this with all of us. From one military family to another:)

  • Mary Elizabeth Tait

    You have captured military life with children in your blog. We still miss the lifestyle after 20 years and we are so thankful that we had a chance to serve our country as an Army family.

  • Dave Ward

    Hi Betsy and Oscar. Betsy, you and Jill Q have a real talent in conveying meaningful military perspectives from the family point of view. Congrats! Aloha from Psycho’s dad.

  • Jennifer

    This was very beautifully written. We have been a Navy family for 18 years and have 2 children(17 and 12) these points that you made ring true to many military families. I thank you for putting into words the thoughts that many of us feel and cant always express. We are only a few months from 20 yrs. and are looking to retire but understand that there are many young families out there that may be struggling to help their children to understand this life.

    • blogheavenstobetsy

      I am so pleased that my thoughts and words ring true for you and your family too. The military has given my family so much. Thank you for your 20 years of service… Good luck in your retirement adventure!

  • Steven L. Sayers, Ph.D.

    I really enjoyed your post. I work with Veteran families and know the strengths of military and veteran families. You may want to read about my perspective on this here:
    http://wp.me/p4gIY1-H

    • blogheavenstobetsy

      Steven,
      Thank you for sharing your writing on the stresses on military families. Thank you, also, for your work with veteran families too. The military lifestyle certainly has unique challenges and stresses! I appreciate your comment on this post.

  • Karen

    As a military brat and wife, I value the life that I have had. Yes there have been trials, treasures,separations. However, the opportunities, the friendships, getting to try new things are so much more than the “bad”. I miss the military life. We have now retired and actually settled in our last assignment. But the life us missed.

    • blogheavenstobetsy

      Karen, Thank you for your service as a child and a spouse! You have served your country well. You are right, the ups and downs of the military life are pretty incredible, but make for a pretty fun ride! Thanks for sharing.

  • grandma K

    I REALLY ENJOYED YOUR BLOG AS A NON-MILITARY GRANDMA. I FEEL I GOT SO MUCH INSIGHT INTO WHAT MY DAUGHTER AND FAMILY GO THRU WITH EACH MOVE AND FURTHERR SEPARATION–I AM SO PROUD OF ALL OF THEM FOR BEING ABLE TO ALL HANDLE THE ADVENTURES AND TRANSITIONS THAT THEY MAKE EVERY FEW YEARS/ ALL WE CAN DO IS SUPPORT THEM – HAVE A GOOD EAR AND SOUNDING BOARD WHEN THEY NEED IT – BUT THIS ALSO LETS US KNOW THAT “YOU” ARE A VERY IMPORTANT FAMILY TO THEM AND ARE THERE TO SUPPORT THEM THRU THEIR HIGHS AND LOWS. GOD BLESS YOU GRANDMA K

    • blogheavenstobetsy

      I’m so glad you enjoy the blog. It sounds like are a great support for your daughter and her family. Hats off to her for all she does and cheers to you for supporting her. Happy Mother’s Day!

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