I would be lying if I said I didn’t question my decision to drag my son, and our future child/children, into military life on a weekly (if not daily) basis. And I’m willing to bet other military parents do the same.
Backstory: my husband was active duty when we met, went National Guard, then came back to active duty. So when it came to supporting his decision to go back to active duty, I think it’s safe to say I had a better idea than most spouses do of just what I was agreeing to. And yeah, it’s hard on me to solo parent and everything else. But I’m a adult and I made the decision for myself.
The hardest thing for me was knowing how much our decision would impact our kids. That part was terrifying. And, to be totally honest, it still is.
Between moving, deployments, and all the uncertainty that comes along with military life, it can feel like we made the wrong choice…or made our choice at the expense of our kids’ happiness. But even on the worst days I like to remember that there are some huge perks that come along with this life as well. And at the end of the day all I can do is my best to raise them to appreciate the good parts!
Seeing the World
Sure there will be duty stations we don’t like. There will be duty stations our kids don’t like too. But they get so mcc more opportunity to see the country, and even the world, than other kids their age.
My son just turned two and he has already been to 15 states. He has traveled more than a lot of people 20 times his age!
I love to travel and I am so appreciative that military life gives me the opportunity to share that love of travel with my kids. Hopefully it will help him grow up with the same enthusiasm for adventure!
Military life affords us financial security and the opportunity for me to be a stay at home mom with our kids. (Fort Hood finance office, if you are reading this we would still realllllly appreciate it if your could fix my husband’s pay. We aren’t that financially secure!) That is such a huge thing to me and helps a lot to offset my guilt about the instability of military life. My kids will grow up with me at home consistently. Even though they will change schools and friend groups more often than most of their civilian counterparts, they will at least have that consistency in the home. This may not be something they always appreciate in the moment, but I think in the long run it has a very positive impact.
No parent wants to put their kids in a situation where they have to learn to toughen up…but learning to be resilient is definitely a side effect of growing up as the child of a service member.
Through the changes and uncertainty, our kids will grow up knowing that they are strong and can get through anything. As a mom I wish I could keep my kids safe at all times, but they are going to grow up and face adversity. Military life will help them to become adults who are ready to take on the challenges they will face.
A sense of pride
Our kids will grow up knowing that their dad is pretty awesome and does a really important job. I hope to also raise them to be proud of the ways they are able to support him too. They may struggle with certain aspects of military life from time to time, but I want them to have pride in what their dad is doing for their country and what they are able to do for their dad.
This is probably a weird one to say about military life. We, by nature, must become transient. Even now when asked where I am “from” I don’t know the answer. In a way we don’t belong much of anywhere…at least physically. But there is a huge, amazing, loving, and supportive network of military families out there and I am so happy for my kids to belong to that community. It’s people who support others with no expectations because they have been there too. My kids will have friends who know what it is like to be a military child too. And the importance of being able to find that community where you “belong” is a really big deal. I’ve been so fortunate to have the love and support of other military spouses and I know my kids will grow up with a community of other military kids as well.
Appreciating the little moments
Military life has a way of making you appreciate the little things. Like the whole family being able to eat dinner together. Or spend Christmas/Halloween/Easter together. There is a lot I know I took for granted growing up and I wish I had been more appreciative. I think military life will provide our kids with the perspective to really appreciate that these little things aren’t guaranteed and, in turn, they will have a greater appreciation for them!
So I suppose the takeaway is that there are a lot of positive aspects of raising kids in this military lifestyle. There are still days where I wonder if we made the right choice, but that just seems so be part of parenting in general!
If you are raising military kids I would love to hear from you in the comments! What is your biggest fear for your kids growing up in a military family? What do you think the biggest positive is?