The common question when you meet someone new is “where are you from?”. May seem like a simple one for some, but for a military child, it’s one that makes us cringe. Why is it so difficult? The question doesn’t come with a simple answer of a state or city. Nope, it’s more like a complicated answer like mine.
So, “where are you from?” Well, I was born in Idaho but was raised military so traveled around. I actually grew up mostly in Florida (the Sunshine State). However, I’ve moved around before landing back in Florida because both my father and husband were active duty military. Is there a simpler answer I can use? Of course! I could say I’m from Florida, but then people question that. I have never yet said I was from Idaho which is the state I was born. This is because I left there when I was only three years old and have no recollection of this state or even the northwest area.
As a military mom, does your child have the same difficulty when asked this question? What if your child was born overseas? The challenging question can even be harder to answer (or maybe more exciting too). It’s not even just the kids who ask; it’s the other parents, teachers and much more.
One day I remember a fun challenge coming through my Social Media feed regarding this same question. I decided to take the quiz. I’m not sure if it’s because I’ve never actually lived in one place too long as a child, but with my answers I gave, it said I was from the Great Lakes. This is QUITE FUNNY! I’ve NEVER been to the Great Lakes (or at least not that I know of).
I never realized until I began asking other people this is a question that stumps many. People today don’t live in one place and grow up near all their family and raise children and grandchildren within a 5-10 mile radius like they used to. We might be born in one state (or even country), move to another state or country to attend school then marry and move to another state or country due to a job change for you or your spouse. It’s not just the military child any longer.
Why not ask other questions instead?
We ask this question without realizing the difficulty in the answer. It may be more three-fold. I live in Florida, was born in Idaho, but grew up all over because my father was military. Remember how difficult this question is and find an alternative one going forward to open conversation. Some examples of my first conversational starters are:
- What do you do for fun?
- Where was your last duty station (if I know they are military)?
- Where is your family living now?
- Where did you graduate high school?
- Where do you like to vacation?
It’s not that I have completely stopped asking people where they’re from, it’s just not an easy question for me so I’ve gotten out of the habit of asking others. Another reason for me is simply common courtesy. It’s important to make certain we aren’t offending anyone or making people feel singled out. Let’s not even start with our grammatical perfectionists that will say this question is incorrect due to it ending with a preposition. Here I go sounding like I know what I’m speaking about. This is definitely not the reason for me as I won’t even try to fool you into thinking I was a good student in grammar.
So the next time you want to ask someone where they are from, just consider some of the options like I shared. You may even have fun hearing some of the answers given and probably find some common ground.