I don’t know about you, but sometimes I feel like a terrible parent to my MilKids. Sometimes I find myself at a complete loss as to how to explain to them certain aspects of military life. Sometimes they need more answers, more reassurance than the old standby “because it’s daddy’s job.”
That’s why I’m so happy when I stumble upon resources like Military Kids Connect. This Defense Department website is the perfect place for military kids ages 6 to 17 to learn more about the life they’re living through fun activities and from other kids who are living the same life and asking the same questions.
The site is broken up into age groups (kids, tweens and teens), with age-appropriate games, activities, videos, resources, tips and message boards. When I introduced the site to my 8-year-old son, it took him only a few seconds to push me aside and take control of the mouse.
“Daddy has told me a lot about Iraq and Afghanistan,” my son explained as he clicked on the animated map. “I want to learn more.” Before I knew it, he was participating in an online lesson in Arabic and taking notes so he could practice later.
Then I watched him try out different games and read the Deployment Daily titled, “Do we have to move again?” He seemed almost surprised that there were other kids out there who were bummed about having to move again, just like he is.
And that’s why I love this website. There are only so many explanations we can give to our kids about military life. Sometimes they need to hear it from someone their own age.
You know what else is awesome about Military Kids Connect? It’s not just for kids. The site recently added new features for parents and educators. For some families, it can act as a conversation starter. After only one visit, my son and I were chatting about military “stuff” that was on his mind that he’d never shared with me before. The site can also be a resource for parents who, like many of us, have no clue how to talk to our kids about certain issues and what kinds of coping strategies we can offer them.
But, parents, don’t just stop there. Pass this website along to your children’s teachers. As a former teacher who earned a degree in a military town and taught in military towns, I was always shocked by the lack of training new teachers were given on dealing with the unique needs of military children. Thankfully, I could fall back on my own experiences, but what about those teachers who don’t come from a military background? Wouldn’t it be nice to find a way to give them a glimpse of what our children go through? I think so too. And Military Kids Connect is a good starting point.
I don’t know if my son will ever be fluent in Arabic, but I do know that he has found a special connection with this website. And that makes me feel like maybe I’m not such a terrible mom after all.
What other resources have helped your military children?