Prevention and Treatment for Parents of Young Children in Military Families

  • Ellen R. DeVoeEmail author
  • Ruth Paris
  • Michelle Acker
Part of the Risk and Resilience in Military and Veteran Families book series (RRMV)


More than 2.2 million parents of dependent children have served in the post-September 11th era wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Given the duration of these conflicts, it is likely that a majority of military-connected children and adolescents first experienced parental deployment during critical periods of early childhood development when parent–child attachments are being formed and strengthened. In the context of deployment separation and reintegration, very young children are especially vulnerable as they and their families cope with a multitude of stressors associated with the deployment cycle. As the needs and strengths of military parents and children have been increasingly documented, the adjustment of the at-home parent and children has been identified as a critical factor in the well-being of the service member in theater. Parenting programs have emerged or been adapted to respond to military populations to meet the needs of both the service member parent and the family. These prevention and intervention programs have been designed to mitigate the long-term impacts of deployment-related stressors on young children and to build upon the inherent strengths, creativity, and capacities of military families. In this chapter, we first review what we know about how very young children experience deployment. We then detail the roles and importance of parenting and coparenting throughout the deployment cycle, and describe selected parenting programs designed to support families with very young children. Finally, we make the case for relationship-based approaches when working with military families. A brief description of Strong Families Strong Forces is offered as a military-specific reflective parenting program aimed at improving parent–young child relationships and reducing parenting stress.


Military parents Parenting programs Attachment Reflective functioning Very young children 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Boston University School of Social WorkBostonUSA

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