April is the Month of the Military Child, which means a time to celebrate the achievements and understand the sacrifices of military kids around the world. As the current 2018-19 National Military Youth of the Year, I talked with other military teens to compile a list of “advice” on how to be a military kid. Here’s what I found to be the most valuable:
There is no mold for military youth, so don’t conform: “All of our stories are different so cherish yours,” said Kah’ron C. Whether you have moved nine times or stayed in one place your whole life, doesn’t mean that your struggles, triumphs and opportunities as a military kid are any less than the military kid next to you.
Have a positive outlook: You need to have a positive outlook on the military lifestyle and what is yet to come. “As a military child, there are many hardships, including moving and deployments. However, what if we viewed moving as an opportunity to gain a new experience or perspective that will eventually be invaluable to you rather than a burden? Or if our parents deploy, what if we viewed those 6 months as a time in which we can grow as mature, independent and strong individuals rather than a time of loss and strain?” states David Z.. Instead of having a “woe is me” approach, try turning your struggles into an opportunity to grow.
Take advantage of your opportunities: Don’t let the experience you are given go to waste. “Immerse yourself in different cultures and learn something from each place you live whether it be a different country, state, or city,” says Katherine W.“We are very lucky in that we have the opportunity to see the disparities and similarities in so many different societies, so we can form a perspective of the world that encompasses a variety of cultures, attitudes, and customs and that is a very special gift we should be aware of.” Stay open minded and willing to accept new things that are not your own. Most importantly, use the experiences you have to show others what the world is actually like. By doing so you can break down stereotypes and help other broaden their perspective on those around them.
Find your people: Personally, the best advice I can offer is to find your people. Find other youth and adults who can understand your experiences and relate to what you have gone through because their guidance could get you through the toughest of times. Also know that it’s okay to ask for help if some days, some moves, or some experiences are just too hard to manage. No one will think less of you and no one wants to see you fail. The military is a giant family that will support you as long as you let them.
A military child is strong, adaptable, embracing and unique. During April, celebrate the life you have. This month is about us, so reflect on it and be proud of who you are and where you are going.