Child Psychiatry & Human Development

, Volume 47, Issue 6, pp 938–949 | Cite as

The Impact of Deployment on Parental, Family and Child Adjustment in Military Families

  • Patricia LesterEmail author
  • Hilary Aralis
  • Maegan Sinclair
  • Cara Kiff
  • Kyung-Hee Lee
  • Sarah Mustillo
  • Shelley MacDermid Wadsworth
Original Article


Since 9/11, military service in the United States has been characterized by wartime deployments and reintegration challenges that contribute to a context of stress for military families. Research indicates the negative impact of wartime deployment on the well being of service members, military spouses, and children. Yet, few studies have considered how parental deployments may affect adjustment in young children and their families. Using deployment records and parent-reported measures from primary caregiving (N = 680) and military (n = 310) parents, we examined the influence of deployment on adjustment in military families with children ages 0–10 years. Greater deployment exposure was related to impaired family functioning and marital instability. Parental depressive and posttraumatic stress symptoms were associated with impairments in social emotional adjustment in young children, increased anxiety in early childhood, and adjustment problems in school-age children. Conversely, parental sensitivity was associated with improved social and emotional outcomes across childhood. These findings provide guidance to developing preventive approaches for military families with young children.


Military deployments Parenting Family adjustment Child social emotional adjustment Parental sensitivity Military parent behavioral health 



This research was supported by contract W91WAW-10-C-0062 issued by the Department of Defense to Shelley MacDermid Wadsworth and Sarah Mustillo.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Patricia Lester
    • 1
    Email author
  • Hilary Aralis
    • 1
  • Maegan Sinclair
    • 1
  • Cara Kiff
    • 1
  • Kyung-Hee Lee
    • 2
  • Sarah Mustillo
    • 3
  • Shelley MacDermid Wadsworth
    • 2
  1. 1.Nathanson Family Resilience Center, Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human BehaviorUCLALos AngelesUSA
  2. 2.Military Family Research InstitutePurdue UniversityWest LafayetteUSA
  3. 3.Department of SociologyNotre Dame UniversityNotre DameUSA

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