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How to explain war to a military child

May 25, 2011

How do we tell our kids or the kids in our extended family about war? How do we talk to them about what Mom or Dad, uncle, big brother/sister or in our case, grandpa is doing that take them away from our family for a year or more at a time?

A really good writer, Stephanie Himel-Nelson, who is also a friend of many of us on LF, wrote a piece in the New York Times Blog At War that asks those questions. Go over and read – and then read the comments and come back for a discussion here.  I’ll wait…

So – are you as irked as I am about the commenters who decided we as military families, need to tell our kids that their Dad’s not being there for their TBall game is because Dad is a tool of an immoral government; that Mom is blowing out candles on a cupcake in Afghanistan via Skype instead of at the dining room table is because she’s helping some big company become rich.

Isn’t it enough that our children are stressed, living through the unrelenting cycle of deployments, predeployments, reintegration, training/schools that is now life in our armed forces.  Isn’t it enough that our children who go to civilian schools, that our children who are Guard/Reserve kids are in schools where they are alone with their fears because there isn’t another kid there going through that cycle and their teachers have no conception of the fears they live with.

I think our kids are some of the strongest, most resilient, compassionate and involved kids in this country.  They understand that there really is more to life than what is found within our own borders, that we are all part of a larger world – after all their parent is over in another part of the world doing their job.  Do I want someone telling my grandbaby that her grandpa is doing something immoral because he’s doing his job to keep his soldiers safe?  No – and if someone does, they better run.  And run fast.  Really fast.  Do I want anyone telling her that this is all for nothing?  oh Hell No!

If someone feels that way – fine.  Do NOT say it to a military child.  I’ll argue with your, discuss the why’s and wherefore’s to a faretheewell. We can disagree at the tops of our voices and call each other names all damned day.  But don’t dare say it to a military family’s child.  Yes, our children will give their opinion to you, they love and are proud of their parent or family member and have every right and need to be.  When they are old enough, they’ll question us and how/why/where us like mad and we’ll argue and explain.


2 Comments leave one →
  1. May 25, 2011 3:27 pm

    First of all, why didn’t I know you were writing over here?!?

    Second…oh. my. goodness. NO. There is a reason I don’t read comments on most “public” forums…because people don’t think before they talk/type/write, and I’d have to take off some heads.

    Fortunately for us, Dad has only gone to a (relatively) safe place, but most of my kids are well aware of all that could go wrong. The older half are able to read for themselves, form their own opinions, and defend themselves rather nicely. The younger 3….well, Mama Bear doesn’t let the idiots very close….

  2. May 26, 2011 7:09 am

    Those opinions should NEVER EVER be expressed to a CHILD. I agree, I’ll debate with another adult all day, but don’t you dare tell my children that what their dad is doing is anything less than what they think – awesome. When they get older, they can decide for themselves how they feel about all the politics of it all.

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