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On being a Military Brat: When the bright side is hard to see…

At Chameleon Kids, we encourage the “bright side” of life as a military kid. We believe there is always a positive lesson to be learned from life’s challenges. But what do you do in those moments when the life lesson seems far away or when the bright side is impossible to see?  Truth be told, many adult brats still struggle with the wounds they have from the many moves and separations.

That’s why it is important to unpack those hard moments instead of tucking them away so you have even more baggage to carry in your life as a military brat.

What can you do in the moments when military brat life is hard?

  • Find someone to tell. The chance to say “this is hard” is important. Get the words out of your head and into the world. Sometimes we aren’t even looking for advice and, if you aren’t, start off with, “I just need to tell you this. I’m not looking for an answer….” That way the person you are telling knows they are just a listener (not a solver). We’re looking at you mom and dad 🙂
  • Write it down. While our writers for MILITARY KIDS’ LIFE are military kids who share their stories with our readers, not everyone wants their thoughts out in the world for EVERYONE to see. But a journal is a great place to put your thoughts on a bad day or during a struggle. While social media is a great way to connect with people and can be a way to feel validated, it can also be very exposing. You may not get the reaction you want or need. If you do share a hardship on social media, make sure you do it with a supportive group, like a group of your fellow brats.
  • Go out and experience. In other words, get out of your room and get out into the world. It is very easy for the walls to close in on you when processing hurt or hard feelings. But, once you feel able or even a little before, take a bike ride, walk the family pet, or ask mom or dad to take you out to the movies or to swim at the pool. Look for things that make you smile and do things that get your body activated and engaged. When you are moving your body, your mind can sometimes process problems in a different way. You may find a different perspective from the top of a hill you hiked than in the valley you walked up from….
  • Ask others their story. We often find comfort in the stories of others. Seek out the stories of others who have made it through hard times. These stories can come from a parent or a peer, online stories or magazine articles, look for how others have overcome the challenges you now face. Look to sites like Wandering I and Brats Without Borders, and their associated social media sites, to read the stories of brats who have gone before you. Their stories combine adventure and heartache, with the perspective of adulthood.

While your heart may hurt from a hard day at a new school (or a not so new school), the distance between you and a loved one, or the challenges of just being a kid (with the extra challenges of being a military kid), remember that our military community wants to be there for you. While the word BRAT is not associated with a good thing in the civilian world, it is a much beloved word in ours.  



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