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Military nomadic life-worries about what babe will miss out on

(14 Posts)
whizzyrocket Mon 18-Jul-11 12:12:44

Hi there,

I'm currently 24 weeks pregnant with my first baby (a boy), living just outside High Wycombe on an RAF base with my husband. We've been here for the past year since we married and now are due to move (not far, just to RAF Benson south of Oxford) as soon as they can supply us with a decent house. I'm worrying about this move because the housing there is appalling and because I don't want to leave my friends here, but it has also brought home to me how unstable life in the military is and I'm worrying about whether it's unfair to bring up a child in this environment.

They'll miss out on all sorts, not just continuity of education, but also on time spent with other family (who are based near Folkestone), the opportunity to develop and keep friends... even just the ability to develop favourite places will be denied him. He won't grow up in one place and be able to call that place his hometown. He won't have people outside his family and our group of friends who will have known him all his life. He won't be able to go to local places and just know he belongs.

These are all things that have been important to me growing up. I'm still friends with a few people I went to playschool with for example.

What do you think? Is moving around and not knowing how long you'll live somewhere necessarily a bad thing? Can a child who has been brought up like that ever be particularly attached to a place and feel at home? I'd love to know if you've any experiences yourselves, either good or bad.

YBR Mon 18-Jul-11 12:41:25

I can't comment on Military life, but I know my husband and others who have moved frequently because a parent was a Methodist minister. He'd identify with
He won't grow up in one place and be able to call that place his hometown.
None the less he still has friends from many of the different places he has lived, and probably more than I have who lived in the same place until adulthood.

Not being able to catch up with family is not uncommon these days. Children cope, they generally learn to make friends quickly and so belong probably sooner than you do in a new place. I'm sure you'll find a load of other parents in similar situations.

It will be a very different life for your DS than you had, but please don't think that is either unique or necessarily harmful.

whizzyrocket Mon 18-Jul-11 12:58:01

Thanks. I know it's not a unique experience- there are thousands of military kids (they call them scaley brats apparently- goodness knows why) before you even consider people who move around a lot in the civilian world. But I do feel sad for my child and terribly responsible that I will be denying him some of the most basic experiences.

weenawoo Mon 18-Jul-11 13:24:13

Hi there, My dad was in the army so I moved around a lot. DH is in the RAF so dd is going to have the same expirience.
When I was younger I never liked leaving places but always settled quickly and I don't feel I've missed out on anything by moving around, a new place can be home very quickly! I get less phased by starting new jobs or moving areas than a lot of friends who have always lived in the same place and have always been confident in meeting new people.
Children see their reality as normal so if you grow up in this enviroment you don't think about it too much.

whizzyrocket Mon 18-Jul-11 14:05:12

What you say is reassuring and yes I know that children will see anything as normal and won't miss what they don't know, but I also know that children who aren't read to won't miss it because they're used to other things, but that doesn't mean they're not missing out.

Do you not think these instincts I have are here for a reason? Or am I being daft?

eurochick Mon 18-Jul-11 14:25:26

My BIL and SIL have a similar kind of lifestyle. He is in the army and moves around a fair bit (albeit so far staying in this country save for a stint in Afghanistan, obviously without the wife and kids!). He has a daughter and a stepson who both seem pretty well-adjusted. The army seems to look after the families quite well, giving the kids packs to send stuff out to dads abroad, etc and living on base they have a great community of people in similar situations around them.

One thing I will say though is that it makes things difficult in other ways. E.g. they wanted to start a family but needed to stay in one place for a year so she could get relatively decent maternity pay so they had to wait a while for that to happen.

silverangel Mon 18-Jul-11 16:01:48

Hi, I moved around a lot due to dad's job, not military, and I loved it. I was abroad and spent a lot of time in the middle east - most of my friends at school were military and they moved every two years. There will always be people in the same situation so starting new schools etc wasn't daunting (that may be different in the uk but presuming you will be on base there will be lots of military kids at the same school).

We used to come home every summer and stay with family which was great and I'm still friends with two girls I went to nursery with.

Also, keeping in touch is way easier now and quicker than it used to be with fb / skype etc.

It has left me with a desire to move around more, do a couple of years abroad but dh is absolutely not interested!

herbietea Mon 18-Jul-11 16:17:04

Message withdrawn

weenawoo Mon 18-Jul-11 16:38:48

You're not being daft, it's normal to worry about this kind of stuff. It's strange to think of bringing up your children in a drastically different situation to the one you grew up in.
There are life enriching things, we were in the Falklands at one point so dd got to go on regular helicopter trips and see loads of penguins, seals and stuff that she'd never of had the chance to see if it weren't for dh's job.

LaWeasel Mon 18-Jul-11 16:49:58

Hiya Whizzy, I understand totally why you are worried. As you say there are loads of kids who go through this, and I think it's probably more stressful for the mums than them!

There's a Forces Sweethearts section on MN and if you post there you will be able to get loads of advice on how other people cope.

If it helps at all, my DH grew up in an RAF family, he and his sister both went to boarding school at 11 to keep one thing 'constant' and DH loved it. There were lots of other forces children there, and quite a few of them are in the forces themselves now, though it wasn't a military school.

Every few years as you move around the different bases you run into the same children you met and played with before in different places - PIL are still moving around, and I can tell that the families put a lot of effort to stay in touch with each other, so even though it seems like it would be impossible they still meet up with and are friends with people they knew from the very beginning when their children were tiny.

nunnie Mon 18-Jul-11 16:57:48

I was a RAF child, didn't settle into a school until I was 10 when my Father left and joined the Police. It wasn't easy and I did have learning difficulties due to being in one school no longer tha 18 months at a time prior to being 10. However I have many many fond memories of my childhood and most are related to being on RAF camps and with a very large extended family.

We lived home and abroad but mainly for my schooling we lived abroad, which did make schooling difficult for me. I know many parents who opted for boarding school and their children were much more settled. However I did survive and have took myself off to further education albeit a little later than some but I did it. Like I said earlier alot of my fond memories are from living on camps and being surrounded by other children in the same boat.

whizzyrocket Tue 19-Jul-11 15:38:40

Thanks, I didn't know there was a forces section- I've only really poked around the pregnancy bit. I'll have to check it out.

herbietea, I was told the housing that we would be offered at Benson wouldn't be up to standard by one of the Defence Estates people as they've had a shortage of places in the sergeants' mess and so have been using the married quarters, which they don't seem to maintain while those guys are there. But when we were offered a place it was even worse than had been described (had both rising damp and a dodgey ceiling, ancient plumbing, suspect electrics, and a hundred holes in the walls for spiders to use as hang-outs) so we turned it down and went to the back of the queue. Since then I've spoken to some removals guys who say that Benson isn't great especially in terms of damp. So I'm not thrilled about the prospect of moving. Just out of interest, what rank are your friends or their spouses? That could have a bearing on the quality of housing. It shouldn't, but it could.

But going back to the former issue, it is interesting to hear people's experiences. I can understand that it will teach a child to be more adaptable, but my own experience of moving on from a place is that although fb etc. let you stay in touch in a way, you are no sooner out of sight than you're out of mind, except with a very few close friends.

I think I'm going to have to be strong about this and try not to be so negative. It'll be a few years before this starts impacting on him (babe) and by that time they may have decided to actually carry through that idea about extending the time spent at posts to save money.

redexpat Tue 19-Jul-11 17:25:03

We had RAF kids at our school. Whenever they came for tea they never knew how to hold the bunny. So I'd recommend days out at petting zoos to counter this.

whizzyrocket Wed 20-Jul-11 11:38:09

I won't worry too much on that front! We have a cat and a dog and he has an aunty who is very fond of rabbit and I'm sure she won't keep her house bunny-free for too much longer! I can consider giving up a long-term home, but animals? Never!

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