Military families are resilient, adaptable, flexible and prepared for uncertainty. The circumstances we regularly face provide many lessons that can benefit those outside of our community, if we're willing to share in a way that makes them want to listen.
Here are a few examples of how military families are good at finding silver linings, no matter how difficult the situation.
1. Navigating Deployments and Business Trips
Military spouses are quite familiar with their service member traveling for deployments, training, conferences and many other military-related needs. Civilians are used to their spouse traveling for business, but not unexpectedly and not often for long periods.
And then suddenly, that civilian spouse is facing a last-minute separation in a location with which they are unfamiliar. Worried about being lonely and the overall interruption of the family routine and dynamic, there is dread at the prospect of being the must-have parent for an extended period. No one wants to be left to handle sibling fights, homework and school projects, entertaining and caring for the children.
Military spouses can find the positives associated with the business trip based on experience with deployments. They can share knowledge with their new friend and show them the silver lining -- without feeling the need to compare this trip to a deployment.
Business travel may be the perfect time for the family at home to bond in new ways. It may provide a chance for this spouse to have uninterrupted time to self-reflect, or binge-watch their favorite show on Netflix. Kids can use this opportunity to take on new duties and learn additional skills. The separation can make the family appreciate each other more and grow in ways they didn't even imagine.
2. Making the Most of New Schools
Military kids move a lot -- sometimes as many as 10 times by the age of 12. A child may change schools six to nine times between kindergarten and high school graduation. Military children are well-versed in saying goodbye and are always the new kids in town and at school. Civilian children may be comfortable at school and settled in a community amongst lifelong friends and family.
A parent's career change, job transfer or promotion may bring a sudden and unexpected move into the civilian child's life. Along with moving come fear, confusion, frustration, anger and sadness.
But when the military kid meets a new friend who's in the same situation as they are, they naturally look to share the positives they've found in a new school based on their experiences. They can share their knowledge and show them the silver linings, like additional educational and extra-curricular opportunities.
The civilian child and family have the chance to make new lifelong friends and share their experiences with others. They also have the option to start fresh, away from any negative school experiences or bad influences.
3. Mastering Moving
Moving is nothing new to a military kid, yet each one is disorienting and brings new challenges. Your military kids may not remember their first move but, as they get older, it gets harder. Now, imagine a civilian family who has never had to move, doing it for the first time. Moving away from family and the only home they've known. It's overwhelming for them, just like it is for us.
The military family can find the positives associated with the move based on the countless times they've done it. They know that with each change comes a newfound ability to adapt and overcome challenges. The move allows them to make new friends.
Moving means travel to new places, seeing more of the world and finding a new sense of adventure. Packing and moving can help a family determine what they can live without and what they genuinely need, taking the opportunity to discard unnecessary items.
The military lifestyle is one of constant change. Along with change comes a wealth of knowledge, resilience and adaptive measures. Let's encourage friendship, cooperation and understanding amongst the military and civilian cultures, rather than creating a division between the two lifestyles.
Together, we can support one another and find even more positives in life.
Keep Up with the Ins and Outs of Military Life
For the latest military news and tips on military family benefits and more, subscribe to Military.com and have the information you need delivered directly to your inbox.
-- Sarah Benson is a seasoned military spouse with a background in sales, marketing and nursing. She writes about her life, career and military lifestyle in order to inspire other military spouses.