Military families face a unique and difficult set of challenges. Service members with kids quickly learn that a predictable family routine is one of many things they need to sacrifice in the name of duty. While advances in communications technology have allowed military dads to keep in touch with family members half a world away, they’re still, well, half a world away. They miss the daily occurrences other fathers take for granted. Like watching their kids savage a bowl of Cheerios. Or consoling them after they strike out in Little League. These fathers must work harder to be part of their children’s — and spouse’s — lives.
Fatherly spoke to a variety of military dads about their service, their families, and how they managed to balance the two. Here, Army Colonel Kirt Boston explains, in his own words, the pros and cons of raising a family of army brats and how he stays in touch with his family while on his current deployment.
You can say I am an Army Brat. I grew up on Army bases all over the world and had traveled and changed homes more than 14 times before I ever joined the military on active duty. I call North Plainfield, N.J. my hometown because that’s where I finished 10th through 12th grade and met my wife. I knew from an early age I always wanted to join the military, a combination of wanting to be like my father and to serve my country. I have found a tremendous amount of job satisfaction serving in an organization where I can contribute to some larger good beyond what a single person could ever achieve.
I have three children: two boys, 17 and 9, and a daughter who turns 16 soon. The structure, discipline, lifestyle, and selfless service that military service requires has probably transcended to how I parent. With the time I do have with my family, I try to make the most of it.
The Army has given our family the opportunity to travel. We make the most of our time together and our assignment location by traveling as often as possible. My family has been fortunate to spend several years in Europe where we exposed the kids to many different cultures, sites, and languages.
The best part of having kids in the military is watching how resilient, flexible, and proactive they become as young adults. Although they do not wear a uniform, they are in the military with me.
The most challenging aspect of having children in the military is the frequent requirement to move to new locations. Many of our military assignments are only one-to-two years long. This frequent changing of locations, often to other countries, means switching homes, schools, making new friends and, as young children, this can be tough.
The best part of having kids in the military is watching how resilient, flexible, and proactive they become as young adults. Although they do not wear a uniform, they are in the military with me. The result, as they grow into young adults, is that they have developed good habits, strong positive characters, and are not afraid to try new things.
My wife and I try to set up a time where I can see them face-to-face online at least once a week, no matter the time zone difference. Additionally, I try and call home or send a letter for special events like birthdays, holidays, sporting events, or music recitals.
Despite that I may not be physically located with them, I am still connected and very much a part of their daily life. They know they can always reach me and I can get to a phone or computer to connect with them to see how their day is going and that every day they are foremost on my mind.