November 06, 2003

Military and family

Soldier chooses family over Army - Synopsis: husband and wife are both in the Army; he’s called up first, then she; their seven kids are with their paternal grandmother; ex-wife files for custody of two of the seven (her biological kids). Wife defies Army to stay with kids and prevent the custody transfer.

It's natural to side with the wife in this case -- she's just protecting her kids, right? (The article doesn't make clear whether any of the seven children are biologically hers, if that matters.) And there's likely a whole lot more going on behind the scenes -- custody fights are rarely cut-and-dried. Similarly, the choice to work versus raising kids can be extremely difficult.

That said, I have a slightly different view: why were both parents in the military in the first place? It's not a surprise they were called up to duty elsewhere, that's a basic part of the job. It's boggles my mind that people think they can have seven (!!) children and continue to both work in such a job. In this instance they made a choice (even if it wasn't explicit) between their careers or raising their children. Since the kids were already there when this woman married into the family, the choice is fairly obvious -- either she or her husband should have stayed home.

This kind of hits a sore spot for me. My dad, a Navy pilot, was gone a lot when I was a kid. It didn't bother me at the time because I didn't know any different, but when I got older I realized how much I missed. (Not even counting all the moving around.) And that's with my mom being around all the time raising my sister and me. I can't imagine what it would be like with both parents gone.

Did my mom and dad think about how his military career would affect us? Would it have been better for us if they'd waited until he was out of piloting to have kids? You can look at this situation and say, "Qut your whining, that's not so bad." We didn't starve, we had a roof over our heads, we got to travel and gain a wider perspective on the world. (Sorta.) But when you think about the choice to have children and the alternative ways of growing up (stable area to grow up in, having friends for more than a couple of years, not relying on yourself so much) it's another perspective. And many people don't think about having children as a choice, it's just something you have to do when you're married.

I don't really have any conclusions to this mess, just something to get off my chest.

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