An Introduction to Military Family Life

Updated April 30, 2021
Happy female soldier with her family

Military families are—like any–other family, but with some varying characteristics. Learn about general overviews regarding what military family life is, how their lives typically look, and what common roadblocks they face regarding their family raising and careers.

Testing for em dashes and how they are formatted. —

What Is a Military Family?

A military family is a group of immediately related persons, either through blood, marriage, or adoption, with one or more of the family members serving in a branch of the armed forces. Military families can have one parent in the military, both parents serving their country, or be comprised of a family that had a death in the family, specifically linked to military duty.

Common Occurrences in Military Families

While military families are much like civilian families, they face several common occurrences that civilian families don't have to face. Many of the happenings in a military family's life are not necessarily pros or cons; they are just part of the game.

Military Families Are Planners

When you are running a military family, considerate planning is a major part of your life. With constant moves and possible deployments forever occurring, military parents have to create plans to ensure the well-being of their dependents throughout all possible situations and scenarios.

Families who face deployment create family care plans for the kids that they sometimes must temporarily leave. They sometimes create military parenting plans when families are no longer nuclear families and are functioning in two separate homes.

Military families know the importance of planning.

Deployment Is Part of the Deal

When Kristin McCarthy is you are a military parent, you go into the career knowing that you may have to leave your family at one point or another. Deployment can certainly be hard on parents and kids alike, but military families find ways to make the transitions between civilian life and active duty smoother for all.

Preparing Mary White kids and spouses for leave is crucial. Making sure everyone knows the details available is key. While military life is full of unknowns, families who have at least part of the picture often feel safe and more at ease. Having set ways to keep in touch also helps everyone know that while they may be separated by distance, they can still stay in contact. Military families must learn to cope with a deployed family member and learn many ways to do this. Healthy coping strategies keep everyone feeling loved and connected.

Thankfully, deployment doesn't last forever, and when military parents return home, everyone is thrilled to reconnect. Military families are pretty creative when it comes time to greet deployed family members back home. Being reunited is always the best part of this life.

Father and son playing video games

Community Is Crucial

Military families move about often, and sometimes they move to parts of the world where they know no one. Life as a military spouse or child can be lonely, but not if you learn to lean on your community. Many military bases offer supports and community events to help families feel as if they are a part of something bigger.

Communication Gets Creative

If one parent is overseas and another is holding down the fort, communication can become difficult. Military families learn to get creative with their communication. Thankfully, technology develops and improves each day, making it easier than ever for families to hear one another's voice and see each other's faces. Technology also allows for military parents who are separated from their families to remain involved in the parenting of their children virtually. They can virtually attend conferences, concerts, view clips and snippets of sporting events, and see pictures of recent birthday parties over a screen. Sure, it isn't the same as being there in person, but military family members are grateful for a secondary option.

When communication via technology is not possible, care packages and special letters and mail can sometimes make families feel loved and connected during their separations.

You Celebrate Togetherness

All families love and appreciate each other, but military families truly understand how to appreciate loved ones when they are around. In the military family world, families spend more time than most apart, so when they are all together, that togetherness is sacred. Celebrating family and enjoying quality time together is a foundational cornerstone of military family life. Many military bases worldwide and around the country know that families that play together stay together, and family events and activities are reflected in the base amenities. From lakes to playgrounds, to movie and game nights, military bases make sure that families get to capitalize on their time together.

Military Families Are Proud Families

Military families are proud of their service members and their civilian family members. It takes grit, determination, faith, trust, and courage to be a military family. These families are tested at every turn, and it isn't always easy to stay together. Divorce is not uncommon in military families, likely in part because of the high-stress stakes and demands and the constant separation.

These families fight for their country and their fight for the health of their family. It is easy to see why military families are so proud of the lives that they create.

An Introduction to Military Family Life