The lives of military children are marked by a unique culture and set of circumstances, oftentimes making them feel isolated from their non-military counterparts. The sacrifices these children make are easily overshadowed by the experiences of their active-duty family members. But make no mistake – a military kid has an inner strength like no other.
Coping with the deployment of one or both parents to war zones, frequent moves, living in cultures far different from their own – these types of experiences can set military children apart.
Studies show that there are some potentially positive outcomes of living a military life as a child. Military children tend to be very adaptable and resilient. They often have an increased cultural awareness and acceptance that can only come from connecting with various parts of the world first-hand. These kids tend to roll with the punches and shift gears with minimal stress because change is nothing new to them.
Of course, there are two sides to every coin. Along with the upsides of a military childhood come some potential struggles. The transitory lifestyle many military children live can hinder their ability to develop concrete relationships, which may be problematic both early on and later in life. Additional concerns can stem from the variations in availability of educational resources or even just educational paradigms within which military children must work as they move from place to place.
It’s fair to say that from a young age, this unique group of children faces challenges most civilians won’t ever have to navigate in their lifetime.
In an effort to honor the challenges faced and sacrifices made by our military kids, former Defense Secretary Casper Weinberger established April as The Month of The Military Child. Not only is this a month to focus on military child support via special programs and activities, it is a time to honor the incredible resiliency this group of young, unsung American heroes displays every day.
Where Can I Learn About The Month of The Military Child Activities and Events?
Many of this months’ events will be hosted or sponsored by military communities across the globe. Check with the Office of Public Affairs on base to get started. Military Readiness Centers, on-base Child Development Centers, and The Department of Defense Dependent School can also be great resources to learn how your community is celebrating.
Creative Ways to Celebrate the Month of The Military Child
Wear Purple – April 22nd is Purple Up! Day. This is the day for communities, military and non-military alike, to don purple in a show of support for military children. Purple indicates that all branches of the Military are represented.
Eat Purple – Similar to green foods on St. Patricks Day, prepare a purple meal to show your military kids that they mean the world to you. Food coloring can easily transform everyday foods or beverages into a special treat. Think purple milk, purple mashed potatoes, or purple rice. If you want to go the more natural route, try adding purple cauliflower, grapes, or berries to your military child’s plate.
Make a Video – Make a purple- or military-themed video in honor of The Military Child Month, and then share it on your social pages. TikTok is a fantastic platform for creating videos with all kinds of fun effects.
Use Facebook – Engage your community online! Ask your kiddo a military-inspired question and post his or her answer. Call on other military parents to do the same and ask them share their childrens’ answers in the comments. A few ideas:
- What does it take to be a hero?
- What do you love most about being a military kid?
- What does being a child of the military mean to you?
- What does honor mean to you?
Tap Into Hashtags – Don’t forget to tag your posts with the best military child hashtags around. Here are some to get you started:
Present an “Official” Thank You – Search the web for printable certificates in honor of Month of The Military Child, or just use this one. Fill in your military kid’s name, print, and present it to him or her in a creative way.
Decorate! – Celebrate your military child with a special space in your home. It could be his or her bedroom door, the kitchen bulletin board, a wall in your dining room or anyplace else they see regularly. Add photos of them with their military family member, mementos from different places they’ve lived, maybe even some military memorabilia that has meaning to them.
Resources for the Military Child (and Their Families)
Whether you are expecting your first or transitioning your last to college, there are a plethora of resources available to support military children and their families.
Military Kids Connect – A place for military kids to connect with each other. The site offers opportunities for children to develop and build relationships with friends who understand what it’s like to be part of a military family.
Focus Project – FOCUS (Families OverComing Under Stress) provides resilience training to military children and their families by teaching practical skills to help overcome common challenges. The program helps build on each child’s current strengths and teaches new strategies for communication, problem solving, goal setting, and creating a shared family story.
Military Installations New Parent Support Program – Helps military parents, including expectant parents, transition successfully into parenthood and provide a nurturing environment for their children. The program offers support and guidance for many of the unique challenges that face military families.
MilitaryChildcare.com – This secure DOD website provides a single location to find comprehensive information on military-operated and/or military-approved childcare programs worldwide. Once you create an account and household profile, you have access to all of these resources at any time from any location.
Military OneSource Digital Library – You’ll find ebooks and audiobooks on every topic imaginable. Also available are databases and reference books to help you learn a new skill and keep kids engaged.
Celebrate Your Military Child
There’s a reason that the dandelion is the unofficial flower of the Military Child. These incredible kids bloom everywhere the winds carry them. Regardless of how you choose to celebrate The Month of The Military Child, remember the goal is simple: remind military children across the world of how incredibly important they are to our country and to their families.