In which Brianna investigates common assumptions about military children, through the lens of the television shows and movies their teachers have consumed. What assumptions have these works instilled, and how true are they?
Get ready: April is the Month of the Military Child
Since 1986, April has been designated the Month of the Military Child. This is a very special event for us, as both our husbands are Marines, and our children are unwittingly embarking on lives of service that they did not ask for. In preparation for this, we wanted to write an article about how teachers could incorporate the Month of the Military Child into their lesson plans. But then we spoke with some teachers and were reminded that the military-civilian divide is sadly a gaping chasm. In the event that a person has no contact with the military through a friend or family member (we're told that's about 99% of the country, so if it describes you, don't feel weird!), their impressions of military life are informed by the media. While there are many, many films about the military, few show the realities of military life for spouses, and fewer still for children. So what do we know about military kids? Which works have informed us of these truths? And how true are they, anyway? Let’s take a look!
Since impressions and assumptions about how “other” people live are formed in adolescence and early adulthood, we focused on television shows and movies that were popular when today’s teachers were teens or young adults. To come up with this list, we combined what teachers told us they watched at that age that they remember featured military kids, with shows that stuck out to us. In chronological order we examined Saved By the Bell, Recess, Cadet Kelly, NCIS, Molly: An American Girl on the Home Front, iCarly, and Army Wives.
Rather than go through what every program got right or wrong about military life (and it usually was a combination of both, because television is not real life), let’s look at some of the broad strokes they had in common.
Now that we have a nice list of what the media is telling us consistently about military life, let’s examine these assumptions.
Here are some key things to remember about military kids. First of all, they are kids. So they have the same problems, worries, and joys as other kids their age, plus a few others. Having a parent with a military career can come with a constellation of other concerns that overlaps with parts other parents’ careers. For instance, other kids have parents that have to be away for work, whether it’s over the road trucking, piloting commercial aircraft, or negotiating business deals in other countries. The children of first responders and deep sea fishermen also worry about their parents’ safety on a daily basis. And our shifting economy can mean that many families can, and do, have to make a move or two out of state for their careers while their kids are in school. Military kids are uniquely challenged with dealing with all of these situations at once. Now that we’ve done our own small part to set the record straight, we’ll come back soon with concrete tips for teachers to help military kids.
Special thanks to a special teacher who cares about her students and helped us out with this article! To our readers: did you learn anything from this? Have any questions you'd like us to address next time? Please comment below or email us. The buttons below are functional as well as pretty!
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Ariel and Brianna are friends who met while working in a library. Now they collaborate to develop life-enhancing book club experiences.
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