Since the year 1986, thanks to Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger, April has been dubbed Month of the Military Child to celebrate these amazing kiddos located all over the world. Throughout the month, you can expect to see special activities at installations nationwide, online giveaways and contests, as well as tributes to these brave little people.
What makes military children so unique?
Military children are just like other kids in that they desire acceptance, love, and want to sink roots into their communities. Where they differ is that their presence in a community may not be more than three to four years at a time due to frequent moves in the military. They are forced to start over, make new friends, and settle into new communities constantly. They learn that the definition of “home” is more than just a structure. It is when their family is altogether.
Military kids often have to face life without one of their parents due to trainings, TDY’s, or deployments. These situations can cause major stress and anxiety in their lives. They miss their service member parent and worry about them while they are gone. They learn how to adapt and support the parent who is away as well as the one on the home front. They witness first-hand the strength of a family unit, because they pull together to make it through these situations until they are fully complete again when the service member parent comes home. The many transitions they encounter in the military lifestyle forces them to build strength and resilience. This allows them to persevere and accept their family’s unique way of life.
They have no choice but to stand strong in military life. It is not easy, but they make the best of it. Military kids adapt as best as they possibly can, which builds resilience in the process. Their strength and character is built upon many of these key situations that military families face. Military children embody so many admirable characteristics that make them so extraordinary. They are strong, resilient, flexible, brave, and the list could go on.
How can you help military children?
1-Acknowledge their feelings-Allow them time to process upcoming changes and listen to how they are feeling. Allow them the opportunity to express their feelings and help them find ways to cope.
2-Offer respite to the parent on the home front-By helping the parent, you are in turn helping the child. When a service member is absent, it puts stress on the entire family unit. If you are able to lend a hand in some way, it will greatly help that military family as a whole.
3-Cook their family a meal-When you offer a meal to a military family, it is such a tremendous help.
4-Include and invite them to activities-Due to the frequent moves of military families, they aren’t always aware of the many activities and resources that exist within their communities. Invite them out and help them learn about the new community in which they live. This can have a tremendously positive impact on the military kids.
5-Put yourself in their shoes-Military children support some of society’s bravest. Due to that, they are also looked at as being tough and brave, when in reality they are crumbling behind the scenes. Put yourself in a military child’s shoes so you can understand what life might be like from their point of view. That will allow you to clearly see what their immediate needs may be.
© Strength 4 Spouses LLC, 2019.
Wendi Iacobello has been an Army wife for three years and part of military life for five years. After struggling through pregnancy loss and infertility for three years, she and her husband are now expecting their rainbow military child this fall. She has spent the last nine years as an adult educator, has a Master of Arts in Educational Media, and a Bachelor of Science degree in Early Childhood Education. Her teaching career includes; Middle and High School Special Education, Correctional Education, and Community College Instruction in Early Childhood Education, Compensatory Ed, as well as Adult Basic Education. Currently, she is a blogger, freelance writer, instructional designer, aqua cycling instructor, and avid volunteer. In her free time, you can usually find her volunteering at USO’s story time, outdoors in the garden, exercising, or enjoying time with her husband and their adorable Beagle, Daizi. Wendi is extremely passionate about helping others find their inner strength by sharing her experiences, insight, resources, and inspirational stories on her blog Strength4Spouses.