Robert Griffin III on the Unique Challenges That Face Military Children
Folks serving in the military must deal with separations, deployments, frequent moves, and the worry of potential harm—or worse—and so do their children. Today, there are more than 1.6 million American military children who face these unique challenges and experiences, and as many as 700,000 of them are under age 5. That’s why April has been deemed the Month of the Military Child. It’s a time to take a pause, celebrate, and support these special kids.
To help do that, Happiest Baby spoke to former NFL Rookie of the Year, Robert Griffin III (RG3), who happens to be a proud Army brat (and for anyone put-off by the word “brat,” know that Griffin assured us that for military families, it’s a term of endearment!). Before the age of 6, he called four different military bases home, thanks to his parents, both of whom were Army sergeants. His mom served for 13 years, and his dad put in 21 (which included two wars). And now RG3 is using his platform—and the Robert Griffin III Foundation—to help military families like his own!
Happiest Baby: Why do you think it’s important to have a month dedicated to military children?
RG3: It’s important to bring attention to these children who are oftentimes missing out on quality time with one or both of their parents because they’re fighting for other kids around the [world]. Think about it: A parent is sacrificing time with their own child just so [another] can have the freedom to spend time with [their children].
HB: What were the top challenges you faced as a military child?
RG3: My top challenges as a military child were all about the uncertainty of whether my parents would come back from war, the uncertainty of where I’d be living, and having to move away from friends—or having friends move away from me constantly.
HB: When you move a lot, it’s hard to have a “village” to help raise a child. In what way do you think that impacted your family?
RG3: It all depends on what you consider a “village” to be. A village can be your extended family, all living in one area and able to help. A village can be a consistent group of friends that you build relationships with over 10 to 15 years. But the village in the military is the military. No matter what base you move to or what city you’re in, you have those military families—and those military brats—who are all going through the same things as you to help you through it. So, there’s actually a big village for military families!
HB: Has becoming a dad of four (including to SNOO baby Gia!) shifted the way you view your own parents and the struggles or sacrifices they dealt with as military parents?
RG3: 100%. My parents always told me “You don’t know what love is until you have children.” They also told me how difficult it is to be a parent...but just like any challenge my parents faced in the military, you attack it head-on and always do what is in the best interest of your children at any given moment.
HB: Your nonprofit, the Robert Griffin III Foundation, helps support struggling military families. Why is that important to you?
RG3: The desire to help military families has a direct correlation to my being a part of one. Military families often feel forgotten. For example, they lose a loved one fighting for the freedoms of their country, and it feels like after the funeral no one cares about them anymore. So, I want those military families to know that they’re not forgotten—and it wasn’t just their mom, dad, aunt, uncle, or any other family member that made sacrifices for this country, but they did as well.
If you’re a military parent and you’re looking for ways to support your child, check out these resources:
Military OneSource: This is a soup-to-nuts resource center covering all things military family, including a new parent support program, relocation tips, help for families with special needs children, youth programs, and more.
Babies on the Homefront: The child development experts at Zero to Three have created an app especially for military and veteran parents that offers ideas for enhancing everyday moments with your little one, such as behavior tips, play time ideas, and self-care advice. There’s also a secure, private messaging system and a “return date” countdown for kids waiting for their loved one to return home.
Sesame Street for Military Families: For 17 years, Elmo and friends have been offering education and activities for preschool-aged “military brats” to help them cope with the challenges of deployment and build resilience in times of separation and change.
SNOO Military Discount: As a thank you for your service, Happiest Baby is proud to offer 20% off SNOO purchase for members of the military.
MilitaryChildCare.com: This go-to site helps families in any service branch find and request military-operated childcare at child development or family childcare programs, including before- and after-school care, as well as summer and holiday camps anywhere in the world.
Our Military Kids: Through grants, this organization helps military kiddos from age 3 to 18 participate in extracurricular activities—like sports, fine arts, camps, and tutoring programs—when their parents are deployed or recovering.
Military Families Share Their Stories:
- Military Life Felt Isolating For This New Mom
- This Military Mom Doesn’t Know What She’d Do Without SNOO
- SNOO Gave This On-the-Move Army Family a Helping Hand
- “My Partner Was Scheduled For Deployment On My Due Date!”
Have questions about a Happiest Baby product? Our consultants would be happy to help! Submit your questions here.
Disclaimer: The information on our site is NOT medical advice for any specific person or condition. It is only meant as general information. If you have any medical questions and concerns about your child or yourself, please contact your health provider.