Very Young Child Well-being in Military Families: A Snapshot
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Since the September 11th attacks on the U.S., more than 2 million children have experienced parental deployment during their early years, with potentially lasting impact. When a parent is deployed, a number of factors may affect the well-being of the service member and his/her family. One parental factor—posttraumatic stress disorder or distress—might be particularly powerful in its effect on young children and the family system. We analyzed baseline data from an intervention development project which focused on supporting military families with very young children during post-deployment. The purpose of this research is to understand the relationships between parental mental health status, parenting stress, couple functioning, and young child well-being. The effects of mental health status of home-front and service member parents and the role of couple functioning on parent–child interactions and behavioral problems of young children were examined in a sample of military families during the post-deployment period. Findings suggest that service member posttraumatic stress symptoms are associated with higher parental report of child behavior problems. Higher quality of the couple relationship appears to lessen the impact of parental posttraumatic stress but is not related to parent perceptions of child behavior concerns. Implications for future research with military families are discussed.
KeywordsPosttraumatic stress Parenting stress Military families Young children Deployment
E.R.D.: Designed and executed the study, wrote the paper. B.E.A.: Conducted data analysis and wrote methods and results. T.M.K.: Collaborated with the design and writing of the study. G.K.K.: Collaborated with the design and analysis of study. R.P.: Collaborated in the execution of the study.
This research was supported by a grant provided to Dr. Ellen DeVoe and Dr. Ruth Paris by the Department of Defense, Grant #W81XWH-08-1-0230. The views expressed in this presentation are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of the Department of Defense, or the U.S. Government.
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Conflict of Interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
All procedures performed in this research involving human subjects were in accordance with the ethical standards of the Boston University and U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command (USARMRMC) Human Research Protections Office (HRPO).
Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants in this research.
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