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Growing Up in the Military

By Perry Lockhart for LIFELines

"Children of the world,
blown to all corners of the world,
we bloom anywhere!"
- Diane Townsend Davis

A few years ago, a debate emerged on an Internet newsgroup for military brats about what kind of flower military children of military parents were most like. The consensus became the dandelion.

Anne Manning Christopherson wrote, "How about the dandelion? The plant puts down roots almost anywhere. It is almost impossible to get rid of. It is entirely usable except for the little puffball thingy. An unpretentious plant, yet good-looking (except for the habit of being where you least expect it). It's a survivor in a broad range of climates. And even when those who are so inclined would apply poisons, they have to do it one plant at a time, season after season. This just illustrates my motto, which is Bloom where you're planted."

Growing up in the military can be quite challenging. Constant relocation, adapting to new schools, new cultures, new friends, new houses, new rules all become the way of life for the military child. Add the uncertainty and separation from their deployed Sailor or Marine, grandparents, uncles, aunts, and other relatives, and the deck seems to be stacked against the military child.

But over and over, children of the military have grown up to become successful, worldly, educated adults with a unique perspective on the world and its people. Forced to adapt throughout life, these worldly citizens learned how to make the best of change and to relish new experiences.

Growing up in the 21st century is bringing its own set of challenges (whether a child is in the military or not) — more availability of alcohol and drugs for young people, increasing rates of violence in schools, neighborhoods, and in the home, higher divorce rates, the trauma of terrorist attacks, the increasing stress of heightened alert status, and a society troubled with waning morals and ethics.

Coping with these issues along with the normal stresses of military family life can mean significant problems for the child, the family, and the military. Today's children need an abundance of support from parents and the military establishment.

Military brats, as they fondly call themselves, have traditionally learned from an early age that home is where their heads are, that a good friend can be found in every corner of the world (and in every color), and that education doesn't only come from school. They live history. They learn that to survive means to adapt, that the door that closes one chapter of their life opens up to a new and exciting adventure full of new friends and new experiences.

Their stories glow of widened horizons, new starts, and a willingness to take chances, reach out, and make new friends.

Like the dandelion, military children bloom everywhere the winds carry them. They are hardy, resilient, and upright. Their roots are strong, cultivated deeply in the culture of the military, planted swiftly and surely. And ready to fly in the breezes that take them to new adventures, new lands, and new friends.


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