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Military kids grow up, but they are still military kids. I know because I am one. Others like me have been contemplating the nature of military childhood on the Spouse Calls blog:

I am the daughter of a veteran of three wars. I traveled, along with my father, mother, youngest brother and older sister, all over the U.S. and Europe. I always find it curious when any parent is concerned that relocating will uproot the children. I never felt uprooted, but I also never knew any other way of life.

Yes, I had to leave dear friends … Being sad meant we would miss them but always cherish them and our time together. It did not diminish our friendships; it enhanced them.

Family was my constant. Relocating taught me the value of family. We didn’t become less close by moving … we became closer. The military values loyalty … Somehow knowing we had each others’ backs meant we knew what we could expect from each other and that we could count on each other in difficult times or situations. People who do not have this quality are not people I invest in, because I know when the going gets tough, they would sell their own mothers to save themselves.

My older siblings feel the same way I do about all of these things. Even now, when we meet people who serve or have served in the military – we instantly understand each other and have similar expectations with regard to loyalty.

So please, parents, do not be worried about uprooting your children. Treat it as a great adventure. Use it as a tool to learn some very wonderful things about life, family, friends and … loyalty. It will serve them well. It will always serve you well, too.

— Jacqueline

I loved growing up in the military! I think families that move together are stronger. They have to be a tight unit; at least until new friends are made each place they go. I loved meeting new people, being the new girl ... I loved the safety of being on base ... (As an adult) I often wish I could just live on base without … having to have a military job.

Here’s the downside: Saying, “I loved to be the new girl,” was the truth, but it was also the problem. I was “new” everywhere we went. I could make a fresh start, be someone different, and never really have to work it out when problems pressed in. It has been a real adjustment to be stuck in one place for almost 10 years now, and not able to just disengage.

I’m learning how to really deal with hurts and hurting others. I can’t just walk away. I will see these people again, and again, and again. My husband and I are both military brats, and that 3-year itch — to move, to change friends — has reared its ugly head more than a few times.

We’ve also found that we’re not as equipped to tell our kids how to handle their relationship problems. I’ve had urges to pull my daughter out of her school and put in her in a different one just to get her some better friends; but then I think of my own attachment issues, and I stop myself.

(However) The military is a great place for making some very strong and lasting friendships. It provides a common bond … and just like the friends you meet at church, you always have a hope of seeing them … at a new home.

— Mikie

Terri Barnes is a military wife and mother of three. She and her family are stationed in Germany. Spouse Calls appears weekly in Stars and Stripes. Write to her at spousecalls@stripes.com and see the Spouse Calls blog at http://blogs.stripes.com/blogs/spousecalls.

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