Military life is tough on everyone involved. With frequent relocations, school changes, deployments, and long-term absences of at least one family member, it can be a real challenge to build a stable life.
And that’s just for the adults. For the children in those military families, life is even more challenging . Statistically, 42% of kids with at least one active duty parent are under the age of five. Another 31% are between six and 11. These are, without a doubt, formative years in any young... person’s life.
Even though it seems nearly impossible to give these children a “normal” childhood, there are a lot of great things associated with being a “military brat.” The unique lifestyle that military children experience can provide them with a variety of opportunities and experiences that will stay with them throughout their life.
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They Have a Knowledge of Diverse Cultures
On average, a military child will move six to nine times over the course of his or her family member’s military career. As a result, military kids are exposed to a variety of cultures, both within and outside the United States. Whether that involves different types of food, languages, dialects, history, or customs, military kids usually adapt quickly and learn to live like locals wherever they go. This cultural education will give them a unique—and very valuable—perspective that will benefit... them as they become adults.
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They Have Language Skills
Children’s brains are like sponges for new languages, especially in elementary school. Whether they’re stationed in Europe or some another location, military children will usually have a chance to immerse themselves in the language of the country they’re living in. According to the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages, learning another language has a number of great benefits. These include higher academic achievement, improved cognitive performance (including memory and IQ), and... a more positive attitude about others who speak the language they’re learning.
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They Make a Lot of New Friends
Military children will naturally make friends with other military kids (after all, no one knows better what a military brat is going through than another one). But they also tend to make friends with local kids at each duty station. They may have only a few close friends, and it may be hard to leave those special few, but they value the new friendships in their lives just as much. Throughout the course of a military career, military kids are exposed to all types of friends. This helps them to be... more open and more empathetic, and have a more developed worldview than their civilian counterparts.
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They Develop a Special Bond with Other Military Kids
Being a military kid is not all rainbows and butterflies; there are quite a few struggles. And nobody understands those feelings quite like another military child. Shared experiences, fears, joys, and friendships bind these kids together wherever they go. To support these relationships, the National Military Family Association sponsors an Operation Purple Camp for children of active duty military kids.Continue to 5 of 11 below.
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They Develop Confidence Early On
Military children become very accustomed to being “the new kid” every few years. They also learn that they don’t have a lot of time to make new friends. Many military kids adapt to this by becoming outgoing and proactive about meeting other kids in the area. Yet another skill that will serve them well in adulthood.
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Military Kids Are Helpful
When those orders come in, it’s all hands on deck. Military kids learn early on that they play a vital role in their family’s ability to function. When a parent deploys, military kids know that they need to step up and help the family any way they can.
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Military Kids Adapt Easily
In military life, the only certainty is change. While deployments and extended trainings can be frustrating and even sad. military kids almost always learn to adapt. They learn quickly how to find and use the resources at their disposal to make their lifestyle work in school, in their social life, and at home.
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They Love to Serve Others
For military kids, most of their parents joined the armed forces to serve their country. That mentality is often passed down to the children. As a result, military kids hold sacrificial service in very high regard. They have deep respect for other servicemembers and their families. If they have the opportunity to help another family, they’re eager for the chance.Continue to 9 of 11 below.
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Everything Is An Adventure
While military kids may struggle from time to time when things get particularly rough, many of them turn an otherwise-dreaded event into an adventure. More importantly, they’ve learned that they have two options: remain unhappy, or find the positive in a difficult situation. It’s not about finding the adventure; it’s about creating the adventure in the moment.
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They Know The Value of Goodbye
Military kids have to say goodbye more than your average child does, whether it’s saying goodbye to a good friend or to a parent who couldn’t come home. Despite the nature of the lifestyle, military kids learn to find peace in goodbye in a way that their civilian counterparts may never understand.
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They Know How To Live For Today
Military kids don’t focus on the length time they have to be away from their loved ones. Instead, they focus on the precious time they have with their friends, their family, and their servicemember. Instead of counting the days until mom or dad has to leave, military kids focus on the time they’ll have together. The unique bonds they form along the way define who they are, and make them better able to thrive.
There are many other great things about military kids. From an adventurous spirit to the desire to help others, there is a great deal that we as adults can learn from our resilient younger counterparts.