April: The Month of the Military Child
Every year, military children from around the world take the month of April to celebrate the unique experience of growing up in a military family. This month aims to highlight the sacrifices made by children who have or previously had a parent serving on the front lines. This is done by means of:
Explicitly honouring the sacrifices made by military children;
Raising awareness about the lifestyle of military families, as it can sometimes be difficult for people outside of this world to understand; and,
Celebrating military children by highlighting their voices, stories and experiences throughout the month.
I am the eldest daughter of a retired dual-serving military couple. I have experienced postings, deployments and training missions. I have travelled, lived abroad and been blessed to adventure all around Canada. I am resilient, I take chances and I am brave. But most of all, I am here today because of my military upbringing.
I can wholeheartedly say that things were not always easy. For those of you who don't know me personally, I will be the first to admit that I was not the most well-behaved child growing up. I was always unsettled and never quite fit in but I was blessed with being a part of the most amazing military family.
My military family taught me the importance of bravery, connection and being intentional in our relationships.
We carry the stress and anxiety of not really ever knowing the whole story about what is going on but at the end of the day, we are brave and we show up for each other and that is all that really matters. We enjoy time together when we can and make sure it's spent making memories.
Since this month is aimed to educate a little bit, I thought I might outline some of the things that can be tough about being a military child:
Having a parent or caregiver away for long periods of time on deployment or training missions.
Experiencing frequent postings which results in changes related to their home base, friend group, supports, schools etc.
Possibly coping with living with a parent or caregiver struggling with a visible or invisible injury.
Anxiety related to the unknown.
And these are some experiences that make being a military child an amazing thing:
Spending intentional time with their military parent/ caregiver when they are home.
Developing unique attachments to their parent or caregiver who is serving on the home front (this parent/ caregiver is often solo parenting and "holding down the fort" in a way that deserves limitless appreciation.
Travelling and living all over the world.
Building unparalleled resiliency.
So, how can you support a military child?
Identify the unique needs of military families and do your best to meet them.
Operate from a space of openness and willingness to learn.
Be aware that military children will likely surprise you with their maturity, knowledge of world issues and awareness of their own needs.
Be patient. Creating connections for military kids can be tough.
Military children play a huge part in the bravery you see from their loved ones fighting on the front lines, they are just a little more invisible. So, this April, please take a little bit of time to thank a military child in your life.
I would like to dedicate this blog to Malcolm, Shawna, Alex and Kayla - my amazing military family. Connected souls never break, no matter the miles apart.
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