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    4 Lessons My Military Kids Have Taught Me

    Once upon a time, I grew up in the same town my whole childhood. Once upon a time, all of my grandparents and many of my aunts and uncles lived minutes away. Once upon a time, I had no concept of what my military friends experienced as a normal part of their lives.

    The lives my own children have now lived for their entire growing up.

    With April’s Month of the Military Child upon us, I’ve been thinking about not only how special our military kids are, but how much I’ve learned from them. While I can’t distill every lesson I’ve learned into a quick list, a few qualities come to mind when I think about my awesome "military brats."

    Patriotism, openness, and flexibility come to mind. What else would you add to this list?

    4 Lessons My Military Kids Have Taught Me

    1) How to start over.

    Again and again and again. While I’m not going to gloss over the hardships they’ve faced in their short lives (repeated separations from their dad through deployments and TDYs, moving every few years), I’m always amazed at my kids’ ability to start over again and create a new life for themselves, wherever we are.

    Related: Helping Military Kids Get Through Multiple Deployments

    While some of it’s born out of necessity, I’m not sure I would have been as easily adaptable at their age. To be honest, I know I’m not as easily adaptable as they are even now, as an adult. On that note, they’ve also taught me…

    2) How to be a friend.

    My kiddos recognize and treasure genuine friendship when they see it. They don’t hesitate to reach out and talk to the “new kid,” because they’ve been the new kid more times than they can count.

    Another trait I’ve noticed about most military kids I’ve encountered is the lack of racism and judgment. They’ve lived all over world, usually around more people that are unlike them than are, and have a knack for simply accepting people for who they are. In fact, they seem mystified by those who focus on silly outward qualifiers in order to be friends with another person, whether it’s the latest trend, skin color, or where they’re from. They’re true children of the world.

    3) Resiliency.

    While this is an emphasis and something of a catch phrase in the military world, I think we need look no farther than our nation’s military kids to see a true picture of resiliency. How much is asked of these who have no choice in the matter! They make me want to be a better person.

    4) Appreciate the little things.

    “Mommy, wook!”

    This was the delighted squeal of my three-year-old daughter every time she turned on the light switch and it responded with--wait for it--actual lights turning on after our time stationed on a small island in the Pacific.

    We’d been through several typhoons complete with weeks-long power outages and near daily unexplained power failures as a matter of daily life. It made me giggle every time she did that, and her appreciation lasted months after we'd moved. Her joy at something so simple made me realize how much I take for granted!

    Everyone has their own set of challenges. My kids have taught me to forge on in the face of unwanted circumstances, to be brave in times of uncertainty, and to “fake it till you make it” with a good attitude when nothing seems to be going right and military life takes a toll.

    I’m so glad I get to learn from them.

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    Jen McDonald


    Jen McDonald

    Jen McDonald is the Content Editor for MilitaryByOwner Advertising. She's a longtime writer, the author of the book You Are Not Alone: Encouragement for the Heart of a Military Spouse, the host of the Milspouse Matters podcast, and has been published in several books and numerous national publications. She was a military spouse for nearly 30 years and is the mom of four (including one son in the military). One of her happiest roles now is being a grandmother. She and her newly retired Air Force husband have been stationed all around the world from Europe to the Pacific and won’t count how many houses they’ve lived in because that would be too depressing. Her passion is encouraging young military spouses and regularly sharing about topics like military life, parenting, homeschooling...and now grandparenting! See more from Jen at her site, Jen McDonald and find her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram , and Pinterest.

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