How Wartime Military Service Affects Children and Families

By Lester, Patricia; Flake, Eric | The Future of Children, Fall 2013 | Go to article overview

How Wartime Military Service Affects Children and Families


Lester, Patricia, Flake, Eric, The Future of Children


Summary

How are children's lives altered when a parent goes off to war? What aspects of combat deployment are most likely to put children at risk for psychological and other problems, and what resources for resilience can they tap to overcome such hardships and thrive?

To answer these questions, Patricia Lester and Lieutenant Colonel Eric Flake first examine the deployment cycle, a multistage process that begins with a period of anxious preparation after a family receives notice that a parent will be sent into combat. Perhaps surprisingly, for many families, they write, the most stressful part of the deployment cycle is not the long months of separation that follow but the postdeployment period, when service members, having come home from war, must be reintegrated into families whose internal rhythms have changed and where children have taken on new roles. Lester and Flake then walk us through a range of theoretical perspectives that help us understand the interconnected environments in which military children live their lives, from the dynamics of the family system itself to the external contexts of the communities where they live and the military culture that helps form their identity.

The authors conclude that policy makers can help military-connected children and their families cope with deployment by, among other things, strengthening community support services and adopting public health education measures that are designed to reduce the stigma of seeking treatment for psychological distress. They warn, however, that much recent research on military children's response to deployment is flawed in various ways, and they call for better-designed, longer-term studies as well as more rigorous evaluation of existing and future support programs.

**********

As the longest war in United States history, the conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan has placed extraordinary demands on children living in military families. Long separation from a parent is difficult for children of any age, but separation combined with the heightened danger of wartime military service is unique to military children.

As a matter of course, military children and their families negotiate the many transitions in military life that are familiar and expected--frequent moves, job reassignments, changing friends and communities, and new schools in different states and even different countries. These transitions may be rewarding, with opportunities for growth and adventure. But they may also be disruptive, with changes in routines and support networks for children and adults alike.

Over the past decade, however, U.S. military children and their families have also had to manage the cumulative stress of separation from a loved one in the context of danger. Children have said goodbye with the pervasive worry that their mother or father might return injured, or might not return at all. Multiple deployments mean that military children may experience this type of separation many times, from infancy to adolescence. Even if they themselves aren't directly affected, most military children know another child who has lost a loved one or seen a parent or sibling return injured from war. These children often know how hard it is to reconnect with a parent who suffers from traumatic brain injury, posttraumatic stress, or a serious physical disability. Deployment and its dangers can threaten children's sense of security in their primary caregiving relationship, a disruption that may not readily resolve even after the parent returns home. Perhaps more than any other unique characteristic of military life, deployment--and the way it shapes children's expectations of their caregiving relationships and their family's sense of safety--is central to understanding how parents' wartime service affects military-connected children.

In this article, we examine what we know and what we still need to know about how children react to military life and their parents' wartime service.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

How Wartime Military Service Affects Children and Families
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.