Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Adult 'Brats'wander Military Lifestyle Becomes Ingrained

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Adult 'Brats'wander Military Lifestyle Becomes Ingrained

Article excerpt

Shortly after Bridget Brennan married, her new father-in-law handed her a check to put a down payment on a house. She had never been so frightened in her life.

"I remember my blood curdling," said Brennan, 33, who has since divorced. "I thought, 'I'm not going to settle down,' and I got really itchy, wanting to move and try something new."

Though she has not been attached to the military since, Brennan spent her entire childhood in an Army family. Before she was 16 years old, she had lived in New Jersey, North Carolina, Kansas, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Ohio, Hawaii and Texas.

Change became a way of life.

"I'm one of the few adults I know who actually likes change," said Brennan, who has lived and worked around the world. "Most of my friends hate anything that disrupts their routine, but I tend to see houses, jobs and even friends as disposable."

Wanderlust is rampant in these "military brat alumni," even decades after they enter the civilian world.

"It does give one itchy feet," said Samuel Britten, a Texas psychologist raised in an Army family. "I realized a while ago that my passport had expired and it drove me nuts."

Britten was a pioneer in studying children who are raised in constantly changing settings. He calls them third-culture kids, because the variety of environments that shape them are drawn from neither the mother nor the father.

And although they have adult lives as diverse as any group of people, he said startling similarities can be found.

"When you walk into their homes, their furniture is not going to match and up above the fireplace is . . . a painting they watched the artisan create in some other country," he said. "There's carved elephants and samurai swords and Israeli oil lamps -- an interior decorator's nightmare, but it's the broad range of experiences."

Their resilience and ability to acclimate themselves in new situations that they learned in their youth, they said, have grown stronger in their adult years. …

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