My daughter is far from perfect. She can be loud, attention-seeking, and somewhat demanding. Now that I think about that, most children share these attributes. However, if you were to do a quick online search, some might say my daughter faces many disadvantages. According to the studies, she will be seen by others and likely herself, as weird, anti-social, bossy, selfish, lonely, and spoiled. Research says she will also have more mental health issues than other children. You see, not only is she an only child, but she is also a military child. However, she is so much more than either of these two stereotypes imply.
My Only Child
For every bit of unbecoming data on only children, there is just as much data to support the strengths and advantages they have in life. My husband and I waited seven years to have our first and only child. Our decision was a conscious one and was cemented in stone when an advanced maternal age pregnancy brought along with it several complications requiring hospitalization and bed rest.
We do not feel our daughter has less opportunity to live a full life. For the past two years, she has had a school assignment on families involving a family tree. I smile with a tinge of sadness each time she lists her furry black lab as her sibling. Honestly, she is proud to place her dog-sister on her family tree and doesn’t view herself as an only child. So, why should we, as parents worry about her only-child status. She plays well alone and also interacts well with adults. She is not anti-social. Quite to the contrary, she has many friends. Much like her father, you could say she has never met a stranger.
My Military Child
Approximately two million military children are serving alongside their parents in the U.S. Armed Forces. The majority of these are of school age. They will move every two to three years on average and change schools seven times before graduation. Military children, much like spouses, are forced to deal with constant change. They are given plenty of opportunity to fine tune their resiliency and adaptability skills.
Our military child is only six, has attended three schools, and moved three times. Her future is very uncertain due to the global pandemic. She is exceptionally fluent in saying goodbye to friends, houses, communities, classmates, and normalcy. Coping with each of these challenges teaches her how to tackle future roadblocks, disappointments, and life successes. By overcoming the negatives associated with the military lifestyle, she develops a healthy, resourceful, and confident self-image.
Again, my daughter is not perfect. She chooses to act out negatively with various changes. Her favorite way of protesting change is through sleep regressions. However, I have also seen this military child weather each storm of change, some faster than others, with determination, grit, and resourcefulness you may not see in most children.
My Child Who is So Much More
My daughter is so much more than just an only child or a military child. Her teacher recently described her as “a little firecracker.” One could choose to interpret this in many ways, both positive and negative. She continued by saying she is adapting well to online learning, is excelling in her core subjects, has a can-do attitude, and completes work with enthusiasm. Her life experiences up to this point have prepared her well to face and overcome challenges, change, adversity, and uncertainty.
As a parent, I am a firm believer it is my duty to guide my child through the inevitable disappointments, trials, hardships, and pain she will undoubtedly face in life. I hope to teach her how to cope, learn, and move forward despite what has happened in the past. I pray my daughter will know so much more about who she is and what she stands for in life. She has both visible and invisible flaws, which serve as beauty marks from her life, making her strong, unique, resilient, and so much more.
Many factors determine the future outcomes for our children. I used to worry a great deal about how my child would weather the military lifestyle without any siblings to share in the journey. I am no longer worried but rather proud that my child is indeed an only child, a military child, and so much more.