Constant moving can make kids adaptable

By null
© St. Petersburg Times
published April 25, 2003

My husband and I have two sons who are brats - military brats.

In the dictionary, the word brat is defined as a child who behaves badly. In the military, the term is lovingly given to every child with a parent in the armed forces.

It has always amazed me how resilient my own children are, having to move every two or more years. (Once after only six months and again after just one year.) Although I know it is difficult for them to leave their schools and friends to go to the next post or base and begin again, I believe they are compensated for the constant upheavals.

My older son, Jonathon, went to seven different schools, including three high schools, but has been able to live in various areas of the country and meet many diverse people from all walks of life. My younger son, Jordan, has already attended elementary schools in three states, but still has no problem making friends quickly and easily.

I am satisfied and grateful that this lifestyle has made my children more motivated, self-sufficient and adaptable.

Even though the kids cannot always live near or visit their grandparents or other relatives, we usually bond with other military families at each post and have developed a large extended family. When we travel throughout the states, there are always extra stops so that we can visit our (and their) friends from previous assignments. One great perk: It has made the need for hotels obsolete.

The kids and I have learned to cope with their father's frequent field exercises and deployments. They know that they are saddled with the yard maintenance detail since their mother is a "lawn mower accident" waiting to happen.

We have also bonded because of their father's absences. Tennis was the only sport I played growing up, but with two athletic boys I quickly learned the fundamentals of every sport.

Sometimes they feel apprehensive and sad whenever their father is deployed, but they usually bounce back quickly and get back to their busy schedules.

Our nuclear family remains close because of the constant moving. Our sons have learned to rely on each other during the transitions. Our boys may begin grumbling when they realize we will be moving again, but I also know they are very proud to have a father in the Armed Forces.

So I always smile whenever I hear the word brat. It is a special term that military members proudly call our children.

- Lory Johnston of Valrico chronicles the life of an Army wife. Her husband is assigned to Central Command.