Archive for November 16th, 2011

November 16, 2011

Brat

Stumbling around on FB last week I came across a post from an acquaintance saying roughly (I cannot find the post again to save my life, it may have been taken down) that “Military Brat” is not a term of honor, “your kid is a brat because you’re not there to teach them not to be.”

Now, this struck me as odd, and as a misreading of a common term. I was put off, but ignored it.

But then this popped up:

I think it’s irresponsible to make babies and war at the same time. My dad was gone a lot when I was a kid, and my mom was busy, and I grew up feeling alone in the world, with the belief that nobody was there to take care of me. I wondered if my dad had another family in Germany, and I wondered if terrorists were going to kill my mom today, or if the bomb threats were just rumors.

I don’t want that for your kids. If you are unwilling to wait to the end of your contract to start a family, that’s your choice. But if you pretend your kids aren’t losing out by not having you around, you’re delusional.

I’m sorry, what?

I am not a child of the military, though several family members have served. I have many friends in various branches, some on contracts, some career. Some with families, some without. And that post struck me as insulting. (Judging from the response she got to it, I wasn’t the only one to feel that way.)

I mean, look, I get that because your dad was a military contractor he was gone a lot. And I can sympathise with being a little girl with a wildly active (and morbid) imagination. But guess what? For the first 7 years of my life I barely saw EITHER of my parents, because of their work schedules. I didn’t spend my entire childhood in the same house. And I’m fine. I wasn’t traumatized because my mother wasn’t there to help me with my homework, nor did I feel like I was missing out because my dad wasn’t around to play catch with me.

I guess what’s bothering me is the presumption that because she had a bad experience with being a military child, it’s ok for her to condemn military families as “irresponsible” or (as she later said in the comments) “selfish”. Because seriously, who the hell are you to tell someone when it’s ok for them to have children?

It’s a step off the whole “you can’t have kids until x” conversation that pisses everyone off so much. And I won’t stand for it. You can have opinions, but you sure as hell can’t go guilting someone for doing something you don’t like. ESPECIALLY when it comes to having/not having children.

And taking it a step further, it feels like a condemnation of single parent families. Which REALLY gets my blood boiling. You can’t presume to know the reasons/motives/situations that brought about any particular family unit. You can’t honestly believe that your experience is the experience of everyone in a similar situation.

And you certainly need to stop portraying your opinions as fact. That type of arrogance makes me lose whatever respect I had left.

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