Our children are strong and courageous, but I dare to say it’s because of the opportunities our service has given them. Being a military mom has its challenges and has amazing benefits for our children we rarely talk about.
April has been known as the month of the Military Child since the mid-1980s. It is a month where a grateful nation (and grateful parents) show appreciation for our children’s important role in the military community. We boast of their resiliency, courage, and strength for enduring a sacrifice they were born into. And we wear purple to support the different branches of service.
Benefits of being a Military Mom for our Children
At some point in our lives, we go from living for ourselves to focusing on the well-being of those we care about. Whether we are biological moms, godmothers, or aunts, etc.… what we do has a lasting impact on the children in our lives.
Kids learn more from watching than anything else. They see what we do and how we do it, and it shapes what they believe about the world around them. So, when they see their mom lacing up her boots in service to her country, the benefits impact them far more significant than we could have ever wished.
This is perhaps the first characteristic people think of when asked about military brats. And it’s true; military kids are resilient. When mothers serve in the armed forces, we are forced to bring our families along during challenging times. But each trial is an opportunity to strengthen our children. Every TDY and deployment serves as a reminder that our kids are strong and can manage without mom.
2. Experience diversitY
Military brats are more likely to experience a diverse upbringing than their peers. From PCSing across the states or over oceans, children notice that “normal” is subjective. They learn to be inclusive of those who look different, sound different, or believe differently than them.
3.Expanded meaning of family
When your biological family is too far to lean on, the term “family” takes on a whole new meaning. Neighbors become second dads when the primary dad is deployed. Friends become like a second mom, nurturing and caring for kids while moms are away. Kids learn to lean on and trust people not solely by bloodline or last name but by their willingness to be there for you.
4. Experience real-life history
Some people would say there is no greater education than to experience life. To see the devastating effects WWII had on Europe. To learn all about the Civil War and the issues that divided our nation. Children can visit, learn and explore history beyond textbooks and the internet. They can touch the wall of China and swim in the dead sea. They also experience history in the making. Moms are breaking down barriers every single day, and their children are experiencing history before it has been written. Nothing can compare.
Flexibility is one of the fundamental keys to life in the military. The only constant is change. And we model how to be flexible/adaptable every time we have to travel for work or experience something unexpected.
6. Love of travel and adventure
Travel and adventure are some of the hidden benefits of being a military brat. People don’t truly understand what they are missing out on until they have experienced it for themselves. Kids grasp a better understanding of the world by watching their moms and/or dads serve in the military.
7. Enhances world education
This benefit is a no-brainer. To learn about the world by living in different parts of the globe is priceless. The memories last a lifetime.
One of the greatest attributes we can exhibit is empathy for those we serve alongside. When we make a meal for someone who just had a baby or help with childcare for a mom struggling with depression, our children see empathy at work.
9. Sacrificial Love
The day I said “see you later” to my daughter was one of the most challenging days I’ve had as a mom. But as I look back, it taught me how to serve sacrificially. It’s easy to help others when it doesn’t cost us a thing, but how often will people serve when it’s uncomfortable or painful? Not many. Yet, our military children get to see this exhibited frequently.
There is a sense of pride every time we button our blouses and lace our boots. Pride when the National Anthem plays. Pride when our troops come home from serving overseas. When they experience the sacrifice required, pride becomes inevitable.
When time together is few and far between, you learn to appreciate what you’ve been given. Kids of the military get a better sense of appreciation while a parent is away. It may not feel that way when they are younger, but as they get older, it becomes more apparent.
12. Awareness of Gender “limitations.”
When mom serves in the military, when she flys a plane or helps build schools in Afghanistan, it teaches our sons and daughters that women are just as capable. Men and women may be biologically different, but our capabilities are of equal value and worth.
One day, when my daughter becomes a mother, she will see the challenges I faced as a working military mother. I hope that it will encourage her to be bold and courageous, proud, and willing to sacrifice, no matter the path she chooses.
Both of my children will grow up knowing women are more than capable of serving in the military. They will see women working in jobs their grandfathers weren’t able to see. And they will be stronger for it. Being a military mom means so much to me. I wrote this poem to encapsulate how I feel.
A letter to my Military Child
The day I decided to serve, I didn’t know what the future would look like. I had no idea a child would come into our world and flip it upside down.
The day I decided to serve, I wanted to serve for a purpose greater than myself. I was so sure and ready to sacrifice my life for our nation.
The day I decided to serve, I had no idea that I would make you sacrifice as well. You had no choice in the matter.
But sweet child, you were born into a family that was created to be bold and courageous. You were born into a family that loves our nation enough to lay down our lives so that others may live.
At such a young age, you have seen more of the world than most of your family and friends. You have missed the “normal” upbringing that you will continue to see on TV.
My sweet child, none of this is normal, and none of this is fair, but you weren’t created for normal, you were created for much more.
Unfortunately, this journey is hard. It will take you through rocky paths and thorny bushes. You will get pricked and scratched and may even shed a little blood. But a military child is resilient. You know what it means to hurt and miss, but you also know what it means to push forward and break ceilings, explore the world, and love others different than yourself.
I know you didn’t make this decision to serve. I know that often, you wish mommy didn’t have this job. But you are never alone, and I will walk this journey with you.
About the author
Cynthia Cline is a veteran of the U.S. Military, a Military Spouse, and a momma to two. She has a passion for books, coffee, and Jesus, and a desire to share her story to encourage women. You can read more from her on her blog, A Faithful Step, where she encourages and equips women in the area of Motherhood, Relationships, Military life, and Christian Spirituality. You can also connect with Cynthia on Facebook or Instagram.