on raising army brats

I unashamedly call my 3 children the Army Brats.
Largely because that is what they are.
Army Brat (or Military Brat) is a term that most people are familiar with.
Sadly, in American culture it can have a negative connotation because of it’s association with the the term ‘brat.’
But when I say ‘Army Brat’ it really should be ‘Army B.R.A.T.’
It’s an acronym that is attached to whatever branch of the military the parent serves in.
I thought I’d give a little history on the term and some insight into how we approach this subculture we are raising our kid in.

The term dates back hundreds of years to the British Empire.
Family members of the the service member were called B.R.A.T.s which stands for “British Regiment Attached Traveler.”
So technically I am an Army Brat as well, although in the last 100 years or so the term has become synonymous with the children of service members.
{it also makes us sound like checked luggage…and sometimes it feels that way}
Anyone who travels along with the service member falls into this category and as a result a unique subculture has formed.
Most Military Brats actually embrace the term, it’s one of the few definers that apply to them as most of them can never claim a home-town or culture the way most other American children can.
For those outside of the military world, to look down on the term means they don’t understand it or it’s context.
To be called a “brat” is insulting, to be called a “military brat” is endearing.

To raise an Army Brat comes with it’s own challenges and blessings.
The military world, and the world of The Army within it, are a culture all it’s own.
To be a child raised in this environment is an incomparable experience.
Military Brats along with children of expatriates and missionaries are considered Third Culture Kids.

” A Third Culture Kid (TCK) is a person who has spent a significant part of his or her developmental years outside the parents’ culture. The TCK frequently builds relationships to all of the cultures, while not having full ownership in any. Although elements from each culture may be assimilated into the TCK’s life experience, the sense of belonging is in relationship to others of similar background.”
{thanks wikipedia!}

They are global nomads.
My kids will move every 2-3 years till college.
Hopefully we’ll land in places like Germany and Korea but even moving frequently all over the US will make them feel isolated.
The only real constant will be The Army and the various posts we live at around the world.
Where we live right now in Alabama couldn’t be any more different from where we were living in Hawaii yet the Army posts in both locations feel exactly the same.
That odd Army world will be one of the few things that will anchor my kids.

So with these unique advantages and disadvantages My Soldier and I think about and pray for wisdom on how to best parent our children growing up in this environment.
For us that includes embracing whatever local culture we find ourselves in, plugging into a local church, teaching them about global missions on the large and small scale, and imparting an understanding about our faith in God who is leading our steps.
My kids are still young but are already feeling the burn of having to leave friends scattered across the US.
We are already working on how to help them cope with the loss of friends and how to help them invest fully in where God has us right now.
We try to remind them just how blessed we are to have so many wonderful people walk in and out of our lives and that it’s OK and good to miss them when we have to move on.