Why are they called military brats? The military children I have seen are the best behaved and resilient. They move every few years and have to make new friends and try out for new sports teams. They have to establish themselves in the new clique at school. I grew up with military peers. I always gave the going away party. I felt that I was left behind. One friend went overseas, another to Arizona, another to New England. We would always write at first, because long distance was too much at that time and their was no email or Facebook. Friendships fade from a lack of personal attention.
I am working with navy families that are blended. Every summer at the airport children are put on the plane to see their other parent and learn a new routine. Sometimes the military parent is deployed in the summer and the child misses out on visitation that summer. Face time replaces real-time as they communicate with mom or Dad on a ship or an overseas base.
Then we have dual military families. The struggle of coordinating deployments so that one parent is home while the other is gone. Technically you are a married single parent and the routine is always different with the other parent. The marriage has issues with the long separations from each other. Then one parent is transferred to Kansas and the other parent does not. Where do the kids go? Is it the middle of the school year? Sometimes one parent gets out of the military so they can go with their spouse, stalling their military career. Sometimes both deploy and the children have to stay with relatives. This can be more challenging is two kids are his, one is hers and one is both. Is one relative willing to take them all?
When you look at all of these issues, how can you call these children brats? They have a right to be lonely, angry, anxious, afraid. What if the news kids don’t like me? Maybe if I act goofy in school, and make them laugh I will get friends. Oh this school is ahead of my old school, I better be quiet so no one knows I am stupid. I was the star on the team last year and I didn’t make the team this year at this school and jocks rule this school. If I get suspended I won’t have to be bullied anymore for a few days. Maybe I should stay with the other parent for a while, but I miss my siblings. Dad has a new wife and he is deploying for a month. Why do I have to stay with her? Maybe if I act like a little butthead, I will get to stay with my grandparents. What if my parent dies? Where will I go? I will have to leave the base and my school and friends.
How are we supporting out military families? Are you aware that a lot of them qualify for food stamps? We aren’t paying them enough for what they do. We don’t have enough support for the children.
There is one place to call 1-800-342-9647 Military one source or militaryonesource.mil for information, crisis counseling, referrals and resources 24 hours a day 7 days a week. I am a provider for this wonderful organization and so are many others around the country. We give 12 sessions to military families at no cost to them. If you are in the Portsmouth area, ask for the Human Element. We understand the problems with your “military brat“.
The local kids in this area have Air Force at Langley. Navy little creek, Oceana, the shipyard and the Navy hospital. Coast Guard is in Portsmouth VA craney island. The Army is at Fort Eustis. We also have Reserve and Guard here as well.