4 Things I’ve Learned From My Military Family

4 Things I’ve Learned From My Military Family

Military families teach a lot of valuable things.

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My mother and father have both been in the Army, both before I was born. My mother got out after 4 years when she was pregnant with me but my father serves for almost 22 years. My older sister also decided to enlist in the Army, and I've found myself in Army ROTC after years of telling myself I'd never be in the military.

As I've grown up, I've come to realize just how many valuable things I've gained from living with military parents that everybody may not understand, or have been taught the way I have. I strongly believe that the military influenced the way I was raised and I'm pretty proud of that.

These are four things I've learned from my military family.

1. The first and foremost thing that living in a military family has taught me is discipline.

My mother and father both expected more of me than the average family, and I've come to greatly appreciate it. Growing up, I always hated the expectations that were put upon me by my parents to always give everything I did my 110%. There was no such thing as halfway doing something. If I committed to a class or a sport, there would be no giving up or no giving it only part of my efforts. In college I started to realize just how valuable this lesson is and I believe the level of discipline I received should be learned by everybody. Due to the way I was raised, I have a very good work ethic and I always stick to what I plan, even if I decide it's not for me. I don't quit and I'm often praised for my dedication especially to the things I love because not many people my age have that quality anymore.

2. Another thing my military family has taught me is to appreciate the times where we can all be together.

When I was younger, my father was away a lot either on deployments or in the field training or even at military qualifying schools. I remember birthdays where he was away and wasn't able to call until after I was in bed, or the fear I would sometimes get at night wondering what he was doing or if he was okay. My father is a strong man and never failed to come home, and every time he did so I realized even more just how lucky I am. Even now, going home to both of my parents is an immense privilege and with my older sister deploying soon, I take time everyday to tell my family how much I love them.

3. I have also learned the importance of true friendships throughout a lifetime.

Similarly, my father in particular taught me that true friends don't have to talk every day. Instead, they're there whenever you need them and vice versa. My father has a few people whom he considers true friends and he doesn't talk to them all the time, or very often to be honest. Two of my dad's true friends recently moved close to him and even after not seeing them for several years and talking to them very little, when they met again they picked up where they left off. The relationship he has with these friends exceeds anything anybody can understand.

The camaraderie between soldiers is something civilians couldn't understand. One of these friends has a son whom I've known since I was in kindergarten. When we moved away, I was still in elementary school and therefore had no means of communication with him and we lost touch for almost 10 years. When he moved to my town right before I left for college, our friendship picked up almost exactly where it left off and he's one of the people I would do anything for. He is a true friend and I value our relationship as much as I value my family.

4. The last thing I learned from my military family is how to be strong.

Since I was little, I had to face the fact that my father was protecting our home in a place that could be dangerous. As I grew up, I came to realize just how much he was willing to give up to protect his home and family, and just how much of a hero he truly is. It's difficult to put into words how much I look up to him and he's made me want to follow in his footsteps. Through him and his stories I've learned exactly what true strength looks like. He has always been my hero and my strength comes from him because I know he's one of the strongest people in the world.

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When You Give A Girl A Papa

She'll learn enough lessons to last a lifetime.
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When you give a girl a Papa she'll have the best adventures.

She'll run around atop his shoulders and learn to fly. Her imagination will never run dry and she'll always be down for a laugh. He'll tell her stories and wipe away her tears. When you give a girl a Papa she'll have memories to last her years.

Papa is German for Dad but in America, it has become a slang term for grandpa. And while it is just a word, for some, it has a deeper meaning. Papa isn't just a grandfather, he's a best friend, the instigator of mischief, a protector, a storyteller, a rock, the strongest man you know and, most importantly, a hero.

Papa can turn ordinary, everyday activities into an adventure. From a young age, I was running behind him as quickly as my little legs could carry me ready for that day's adventure. I was always down for anything Papa was doing, following him in his daily chores and mimicking his every move. Cuddling up and watching sports in his lazy chair was my favorite time of the day because he always told the best stories. Sitting there hanging onto every word he said because it was the most important thing I ever heard.

Papa is full of experience and wisdom. His wise words provide comfort every time I am sad. He can always make me laugh to fight the tears away. I'm not sure how, but he always knows what to say to make me feel better. Papa is a fearless force that never bows and is never broken. He can weather all of the storms while smiling and laughing. I can only hope to have that resilience when facing life's problems. And when Papa was struggling with his own battles, I will stand right next to him, ready to fight and do all I can for him.

Papa can do a happy dance via the phone so he is the person to call when something good happens. He is always there to celebrate life and all its joy. And, even though he tried to hide them, he cried happy tears the day of my high school graduation. I pretended not to notice.

Leaving Nana and Papa's house is always the worst part of the trip. Driving away waving my hand in the air with tears welling in my eyes because I can't wait for the next adventure. Disappointing Papa was the scariest thing you I could think of, but I knew that he would never stay that way for long. There was always a lesson to learn from mistakes.

He is the man I model all men after. If they don't treat me the way Papa demonstrated, they are not worthy of my time. If they don't make me laugh or have that twinkle of passion in their eyes and fire in their soul like my Papa, then they aren't the man for me.

Papa is my hero. I would give anything to be like him, to stand strong and hold the world together when it just wants to fall apart. To be able to make anyone laugh and feel right at home. To fight for what I believe in and work hard to achieve my goals. To have charisma and charm. To deal with people who wrong me with class and kindness. To follow my faith with questions because that is the only way to make your beliefs stronger. To be the person everyone speaks of with a fond memory in their eye.

At the end of it all, he is my Papa and no one can take his place. I can and will drop anything to be by his side. He has shaped me into the person that I am working to be. I will always call him for advice and kind words.

Best friends come in many forms, but my favorite will always be my Papa.

Cover Image Credit: Jessica Goddard

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Friendly Reminder To Give Your Parents A Break, Because They Make Mistakes Just Like Us

As far as I was concerned, the birth of my parents coincided with my own.

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As children, there is a very obvious fact concerning our parents that we either consciously ignore or, in most cases, are completely oblivious to. And this fact is that our parents are, like everyone else, only human.

Up until recently, I never thought about who my parents were before they became "Mom" and "Dad." As far as I was concerned, the birth of my parents coincided with my own. And in becoming parents, I thought they were immediately bestowed with all of the powers that came with that grandiose title: unparalleled bravery and wisdom, unwavering patience and confidence, unrivaled strength and leadership.

Throughout my whole life, I have unfairly and unreasonably held them to these impossible standards of perfection, and when they failed to meet them, I blamed them for their shortcomings: whenever they would raise their voice at me, I blamed them for being mean. Whenever they refused to let me go out with my friends at night, I blamed them for being unfair. Whenever they couldn't offer me the "right" advice for my petty pre-teen problems, I blamed them for being unhelpful and even useless.

What I failed to acknowledge was the fact that my parents were not always parents. They were, and still are, the children of their own parents, meaning they hold within themselves all of the traits that come with that title: fear and naivete, impatience and uncertainty, weakness and inexperience. And so, it turns out that my parents are just children who are taking care of other children. Whenever they yelled at me, it is because they were capable of losing their patience.

Whenever they refused to let me stay out too late at night, it is because they were capable of being afraid; whenever they couldn't offer me the solution to all of my problems, it is because they were capable of simply not having all the answers.

And so we must remember that just like us, our parents are doing the best they can do, and just as they accept our best effort, perhaps we should learn to theirs as well.

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