Month of the Military Child


April is Month of the Military Child.

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Military children are pretty great! There are approximately 1 million active duty service members in the United States and about 2 million military children. One of them lives at my house.

While being a military spouse can be quite stressful, spouses are adults with (theoretically) better coping strategies and planning skills than kids. Also, spouses tend to be people who have chosen this lifestyle. Military children, however, did not choose to live the military lifestyle. Yet, they make sacrifices just as the rest of the family does.

Kids who have a parent (or parents) in the military move often. My daughter is six and has moved twice. She has lived in three different states. She hasn’t had to switch schools yet because she is so young but most military children do have to switch schools, usually more than once, and often every couple of years. As a young child, this may not be so tough. But the older you get, the harder it is. My husband, who was also a military child (his father served 30 years), moved a whopping 8 times before he turned 18. I have no doubt that my daughter will switch schools at least once while she is in elementary school.

Military kids often have to deal with long periods of time apart from their parent or parents. Many active duty folks are deployed for six months and some serve a year or longer away from their family. Even if Dad or Mom isn’t gone that long, there are often times when they are training for weeks or months away from family.

Even if the family is fortunate to avoid deployment or time apart, military children are often separated from extended family. My daughter has never lived in the same state as her grandparents. Many families live overseas, putting them even further away from family and the comforts of home.

And, of course, the sad fact is many military children never see their parent return home. Some kids have to deal with very serious issues when a parent does return home from deployment, such as physical injuries and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). These are difficult things for adults to handle; putting that burden on a child and family life is all that more challenging. It can be a lot for young hearts to handle.

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But don’t feel sorry for my Air Force girl! She is adaptable, as are most military children. Although she misses her old friends, she makes new friends easily. She has traveled a lot for someone her age. She has flown on a plane many times and slept in many a hotel room. She knows what it is like to live out of a suitcase and thus live with less here and there. She is, as she puts it, “a girl made for adventure”. I’d have to agree.

Like any lifestyle, there are pros and cons, ups and downs. My little girl will probably be under 10 by the the time her dad can separate from the military, which is pretty young. This means we will hopefully settle down somewhere at that time and she will go to the same school for a while and live in the same house for longer than a few years. My hope is she will make friends she will go to high school with. I am thankful for the opportunities and experiences our time in the military have given our family, but I will admit that once you have a child, your desire to put down roots becomes stronger. At least, that has been the case for me. Still, I am very proud of my little trooper and I know the experiences she has had in her young life will stay with her for a lifetime.


Interested in learning more about military kids? Here are some resources on helping them cope with some of the stresses they might face.


Were you a military child? Or maybe you have one yourself? Tell us about it in the comments.

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Eileen has been married to her husband, Eric, an Air Force officer, since 1998. A pharmacist by trade, she worked that gig for ten years until her promotion to full time stay-at-home mom in 2009. Eileen and Eric have one daughter, Little E, who is a feisty little girl obsessed with Octonauts. As a military family, they move every 3-4 years, most recently from Southern Virginia to Arizona. They have lived in the Phoenix area since July 2012 and love the southwest! Hopefully they have found their “forever” home. Eileen’s passions and hobbies include photography, reading, travel, cooking, doing creative projects with her daughter, hiking and working out. She can often be found sipping a latte at Starbucks, looking for the next great read at Barnes and Noble, or browsing Ulta for the latest beauty find.



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