This article was originally published in our Winter 2013 Issue.
The Royal Military College of Canada (RMC) is a unique place challenging young officers and naval cadets to reach their full potential to become well-educated officers. Some of the greatest challenges are faced by the families who have cadets enrolled at RMC.
As an institution which celebrates 136 years of military training and academic study, some families are multi-generational at the college, with mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, grandchildren and great-grandchildren attending with pride and distinction. One of the parents who has had more than one cadet go through RMC is Angela Rosenkranz–her oldest son has already graduated from the college, and her younger son is currently attending.
Rosenkranz did not attend RMC herself but credits her sons’ interest in the forces to her husband Dirk’s service in the 1980s. “I think that the boys had some interest and intrigue with the notion of being in the military and that lifestyle,” Rosenkranz explained. “As a mother there is always an underlying mechanism that wants to keep your children from harms way and I had mixed emotions and fears during the process of sending them to RMC.”
Like most mothers, Rosenkranz feared for her children’s safety. “I didn’t want to discourage them from the opportunity of an excellent education and training however. Knowing the risks that are in our everyday lives, I justified that the training and education they received through the military would provide a very solid foundation for the future in many fields.”
In Grade 11, Rosenkranz’s eldest son received a presentation on RMC at his high school. When Max told his mother he was interested in attending RMC, Rosenkranz was extremely proud of her son. “I think there would have been the same anxiety about him leaving home and going to any other university setting because he was only 17 years old,” she said. “I actually felt he would be more comfortable at RMC because there are rules and curfews in place to monitor the first-year cadets.”
When Rosenkranz’s second son decided to go to RMC it was a little different.
“Thomas had attended a year at a different university and was 19 years old, so I felt he was more prepared,” she explained. “I still harboured the same underlying fear of the risk associated with the military, but having shared Max’ s journey as a family I think we were all more comfortable with the RMC way of life and the expectations of the military. I think the biggest challenge facing families is the separation anxiety. Knowing that their (your kids’) loyalties are going to be to the military is a huge hurdle.”
According to Rosenkranz, a strong foundation as a family makes it easier for the cadets, knowing that their family will always be there for them. She believes this bond makes it easier for the cadet and the parents during the first year apart. “I think the amount of responsibility and expectations that are put on the students worries some parents, but overall this is what moulds them into young adults that can handle a future of unknown challenges,” Rosenkranz proposed. “Perhaps financially it would be challenging for families who live out of the province as it is expensive to travel and get time off work etc. to visit the cadets.”
Rosenkranz said the positive impact of RMC on her sons’ lives was remarkable and said the environment and campus provides a healthy learning environment. “The training and the discipline they develop is absolutely beneficial in preparing them to deal with real life situations and accountability for their actions in the future,” said Rosenkranz, who added that the self-growth and confidence cadets develop within the first six weeks is very evident. “To see your child standing proud and smiling with that sense of accomplishment is what every parent dreams of.”
The environment at RMC is very challenging academically due to the combination of second language training and a gruelling sports itinerary. Rosenkranz believes RMC strives for developing the person as a whole and nurtures the process every step of the way by means of its high standards.
“I think that the children come out of this experience prepared with the best foundation to embrace the future as fine young adults and officers,” she said. Rosenkranz and her husband Dirk stay connected to the children by participating: cheering on varsity-level games and attending as many parades and ceremonies as possible. When they can’t be there in person, they use the phone and Skype and text messaging to stay in touch.
“It’s great to hear from the children whenever they can squeeze a call in to us! We are always open to listen to them or just catch up, day or night if need be.”
The family looks forward to time together at home or arranging holidays together when the opportunity arises and have embraced other cadets over the holidays that don’t have family living in Ontario. They enjoy making them feel part of their family too. Rosenkranz appreciates it when other families have had her sons over as well.
“It’s so wonderful to hear that the boys were welcomed to the parent’s, uncle’s or aunt’s house of a friend for dinner and a visit. Knowing that other families care about your child’s welfare is a huge comfort in times when you cannot be there yourself or if they need the support of a caring adult. That kind of support is great,” she added, describing the close network at RMC.
Rosenkranz also said that as intimidating as it is for a parent to hand over their child to the military and to RMC, the education, training and respect that they gain throughout their first year is a solid asset. “Watching these young adults progress through the school year lessens the fears of the initial choice of going to RMC. When you see the accomplishments that they achieve by the end of the first year of university and hear how tough it is, yet so rewarding, you almost wish you could do it all again yourself,” Rosenkranz explains enthusiastically.
“To have that opportunity to gain so much experience in such a highly respected environment is quite amazing. Watching your children present themselves to you and the community in uniform, and stand so proud is really a wonderful and moving experience.”
“I feel the foundation they have by the time they graduate is as good as it gets for them to enter the real world as independent thinkers yet team oriented and focused as well.
They have a sense of purpose and know they can contribute to life by making confident choices and standing by the pillars that RMC strives for – truth, duty, valour and love.”
By Captain Yvette Grygoryev
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