Are you a military brat? Or do you have a friend who is one? A military brat, as opposed to what the name suggests, is actually a common term of endearment that is used to describe kids who are born to parents who serve in the armed forces. Either one or both the parents, are employed in one of the branches of the military. These kids seem to have all the things that one would need at their age, when you look at their life from the outside.
The adventure of traveling to new places, meeting new people, getting acquainted with new cultures, new languages, material comforts, etc... But as always, there are two sides to this coin. There are also many disadvantages of living the kind of life these kids do. Let us see the pros and the cons of being a 'military brat'.
Pros of Being a Military Brat
Foremost in the list of pros, is the immense exposure that these kids are subjected to. Traveling to new places, getting to know and absorb new cultures, traditions, cuisines, ways of life, etc., adds to their perspective, broadens their thinking, and shapes their personalities. And actually experiencing these things, as opposed to reading about them, can add a whole lot of depth to the knowledge.
Next is the social aspect. These kids get to meet so many interesting people of different states and nationalities, and make new friends, which gives them a social circle spread out over many countries. Interacting with people from different countries, is like getting first hand information about that country, and is much better than getting to know what is happening in that country through newspapers and television.
Social networking sites these days have made getting in touch with someone so incredibly easy, that distances seem not to pose any problems or restrictions when making and keeping in touch with friends all over the world.
Frequent traveling, meeting new people, getting accustomed to new things all the time, also toughens these kids emotionally. They have to learn to adapt to new places, cultures and people quickly, which helps them to be more accepting of continuous change and develop their ability to adapt according to their location, companions, etc. They are usually quick to form friendships as compared to other kids. Many of us hate having our routines disturbed, so can you imagine the strength these kids have, to be so accepting of change that it is second nature to them?
Another aspect in favor of military brats, is that they learn to take care of themselves at an early age. Since their parents are in the military, it is difficult for them to be there for their kids to blow over every scraped knee, and to hug every fear away. So these kids learn to take care of themselves, learn to handle small tasks, hurts and look out for themselves. They will not be the ones to cling to their parents when being dropped off at a new school, but the ones who will hop out and probably make a friend before they have reached their classroom.
The maturity of these kids at a really young age is also amazing. Hearing about war stories first hand, having to face the fear that your dad may not come home, looking out for siblings at home and in school, makes them grow up in a way that is just remarkable. You don't have to teach them every little thing about coping with little setbacks and counting their blessings. They usually learn manners, respect, patriotism, independence, obedience without having to be taught these things at school. They have it down pat.
And of course, there are the perks of being a military kid. The lunches, theater shows, special treatment when you wield your ID, admission to visit places that may not be open for civilians, can't be held back in school (although, this could turn out to be a con), and the list goes on. Most military brats will agree that they have been pampered. And who will complain against being pampered and spoiled? Not me, if I were one, that's for sure.
Cons of Being a Military Brat
Probably the hardest question that a military brat has to answer is, "Where are you from?" The continuous moving can leave the young kids confused and could cause an identity crises in some of them. Moving frequently can be tough on the kids if they are introverts, and make friends slowly. Just as they begin to settle down and start building friendships in one place, they have to shift to some other place and start the process all over again, and then all over again after a few more years and so it goes on. There is hardly any place they can call home, either every place is home, or no place feels like home.
If the kids are settling into important years in school, and the entire family cannot move to the new location, then at such times they have to put up with the separation which can be a few years long. It's not at all easy living away from someone you love, be it mother, father, siblings or friends. Specially if the kids are close to the family member that is living away, they are bound to be depressed for a little while at least, till they get used to the person's absence.
Being in some place for a small amount of time is not enough to form deep friendships and relations and once you move away, it becomes difficult to keep in touch with your friends emotionally. Sure you have Facebook and Twitter, so you know what your friends are up to in their lives, but what you get from these things is just a sliver of the cake, and often, they end up feeling emotionally isolated. Some prefer to keep their friendships superficial because they think they cannot put up with the loss of another friend when it is time for them to move away.
So in conclusion, it is a good life if you ask any military brat, and more often than not they will tell you that they wouldn't exchange their life for anything! It may get tough at times and at times it's horrible, and you just want to pull through. But in the end, it leaves you stronger and with many happy memories and cherished experiences that wouldn't have been possible if you weren't an army brat.