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Moving as a military child: Looking on the bright side

JOINT BASE ANDREWS, Md. --

(Editor’s note: Summer Teichert, the 14-year-old daughter of 11th Wing and JBA Commander Col. E. John Teichert, is a military child and is therefore an eminently qualified contributor during Month of the Military Child.)

One of the aspects of life that a military child like me faces is the inevitable moving from place to place. Imagine moving across the state, the country or even the world. Relocation may seem quite overwhelming, but the exposure gained from a move can be incredible.

Picture of resiliency
SLIDESHOW | 1 of 1 | Moving as a military child: Looking on the bright side A school art project by Summer Teichert, 14-year-old daughter of 11th Wing and JBA Commander Col. E. John Teichert, shows self-described personality traits in the shape of the Air Force symbol. Summer credits much of her resilience and open-mindedness to being a military child, which provided the opportunity to live in several unique places. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Michael S. Murphy)

Have you seen the maps with marks for every place a person has been?  Well, I have one showing the nine houses I have lived in and the 41 states I’ve visited!

Perhaps you’ve noticed a new student at school who quickly integrates into their new situation? I believe military kids should embrace moving because it builds resilience and brings unique experiences.

According to the book “Military Medicine” by Weber and Weber, resilience has been defined as the presence of protective factors to moderate the relationship between stress and risk on one hand and coping or competence on the other hand. In other words, resilience is simply the ability to be flexible with whatever life throws at you.

With the constant presence of change in our world, this characteristic is extremely vital. In fact, plenty of research has correlated tough experiences, such as moving, with effective development of coping and problem-solving behavior. Specifically, Wilburn and Lightfoot’s research in “Clinical Child and Family Review” indicates that the difficulties of moving promote resilience in adolescents.

When people move, they change nearly everything about their lives -- their school, their house, their routines. The adjustment from each move makes a person more resilient and creates adaptability. 

Other research might indicate how negative moving can be, but it’s not the whole story. The negative effects might be present at first and seem significant, but the struggles build strength, develop character, and teach people how to cope with challenges and learn from their mistakes. Yes life might be a little, or more like a lot, tougher in the short term, but in the long run things will play out for the best.

Additionally, moving provides new and different experiences as well as exposure to unique things. Resource material on MilitaryOneSource.mil encourages people to look at relocation as an opportunity to experience new places, people, and challenges.

Envision seeing the sky-high castles of Germany, breathing in the rich air of Alaska and tasting the cheesy goodness of Italian pizza. People around the world enjoy many cuisines and landmarks as they relocate. Don’t you want to be there? Don’t you want to be them?

Moving gives people exposure to cultures and places worldwide that many people may never see or experience.

There are many people who study and learn about exotic locations, but firsthand experience of distinct and different cultures is 100 percent better. Moreover, open-mindedness corresponds with helping people have multiple perspectives. For instance, take the world as a pair of glasses. You need the right prescription to see the entire picture.

Similarly, moving can open up peoples’ minds beyond only their perspective. Therefore, it is guaranteed that the adventure that comes from relocation can benefit anyone and everyone. See for yourself!

Although relocation is a tough event, moving can provide benefits for the whole family because it develops character through resiliency and creates openness to new experiences and unique aspects of our world. The benefits from relocating will last a lifetime and prepare you for all sorts of new situations and success. As a military child myself, I understand the hardships, but I know it is truly worth it. We live in a vast land of opportunity and we must seize it!

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