As a mom, I’ve honed the art of worrying about my kids. Twenty-three years of parenting and seven military moves have provided ample opportunity to raise my worry-skills to expert level. I’m not saying I’m proud of this–I’m simply confessing worry was my go-to emotion for parenting through the frequent transitions of military life.
For many, handling separations of deployments and getting settled in new duty stations are at the top of our list of military life challenges. Our kids would probably agree.
Belonging is important for the military family.
“Belong” can be a tough word for military families, frequently moving from one duty station to another. Military kids often struggle to answer the question, “Where are you from?”
Change seems to be the constant of our lives. The uprooting of belonging was hard for me as an adult; what was it doing to my kids? As a mom, I often worried about the impact change and transition would have on my children.
The day I had to physically pull my 7-year-old daughter apart from her first best friend, I fought back tears thinking, my heart is going to fall out, right here on the front porch.
Red-faced with hot tears streaming, my daughter sobbed, “Don’t make me leave, Mommy. Why can’t Rachel come with us? We belong together.”
So painful, this first experience of a child now old enough to understand the security of belonging. I worried about the impact this would have on her tender young heart.
Transitions are challenging for kids.
For the military family, belonging includes a new address every few years. It can be hard to let go of belonging when the moving truck is packed, the orders are stamped, and it is time to leave.
This is the life rhythm that our family has gotten used to. Yet as hard as it is to embrace change and risk belonging, we are all the richer for it.
Although transitions can be hard, moving has many positive benefits over time. Here are just a few of the good things military moves have given my children.
- They have learned friends are found everywhere God sends us.
- They have gone to amazing places and done really cool things.
- They can unpack and organize their room by themselves.
- They know the strong bond of belonging to our family is not tied to a particular address. This benefit of military life has made our family stronger and closer.
- Siblings become friends through the transitions of military life.
They have enjoyed the value of friends, yet each one has developed an independence and strength born of experiencing God’s faithfulness in many transitions