Parenting School-Age Children and Adolescents Through Military Deployments

  • Anita ChandraEmail author
Part of the Risk and Resilience in Military and Veteran Families book series (RRMV)


This chapter explores the parenting of school-age children and adolescents in military families, with particular attention to the dynamics of parent-child relationships before, during, and after military deployment; the role of the deployed and at-home parent; and the potential supports offered from parent or family-focused interventions. The chapter provides insights from a longitudinal study on the impact of deployments on families, calling out key data on parent–child relationships during this developmental period. The chapter also identifies questions that are unanswered about parenting this age group in military families, with specific discussion of opportunities for both research and practice.


Parenting Style Child Relationship Service Member Effortful Control Child Communication 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



Study findings presented in this paper (noted under the pilot study section), are based on a project supported through an unrestricted grant from the National Military Family Association, via funding from the Sierra Club Foundation and the Robertson Foundation. Analyses conducted by study team members, include Anita Chandra, Sandraluz Lara-Cinisomo, Rachel M. Burns, and Juliana McGene.


  1. Amato, P. R., & Booth, A. (1991). Consequences of parental divorce and marital unhappiness for adult well-being. Social Forces, 69, 895–914.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Aranda, M. C., Middleton, L. S., Flake, E., & Davis, B. E. (2011). Psychosocial screening in children with wartime-deployed parents. Military Medicine, 176, 402–407.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Arbuckle, J., & Wothke, W. (1999). AMOS 4 user’s reference guide. Chicago: Smallwaters Corp.Google Scholar
  4. Baker, D. G., Heppner, P., Niloofar, A., Nunnink, S., Kilmer, M., Simmons, A., & Bosse, B. (2009). Trauma exposure, branch of service, and physical injury in relation to mental health among U.S. veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. Military Medicine, 174, 773–778.Google Scholar
  5. Bandura, A. (1977). Self-efficacy: Toward a unifying theory of behavioral change. Psychological Review, 84, 191–215.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Barker, L. H., & Berry, K. D. (2009). Developmental issues impacting military families with young children during single and multiple deployments. Military Medicine, 174, 1033–1040.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Baumrind, D. (1971). Current patterns of parental authority. Developmental Psychology Monograph, 4, 1–103.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Biblarz, T. J., & Gottainer, G. (2000). Family structure and children’s success: A comparison of widowed and divorced single mother families. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 62, 533–548.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Brody, G. H., Stoneman, Z., Flor, D., McCrary, C., Hastings, L., & Conyers, O. (1994). Financial resources, parent psychological functioning, parent co-caregiving, and early adolescent competence in rural two-parent African-American families. Child Development, 65, 590–605.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Bronfenbrenner, U. (1979). The ecology of human development: Experiments by nature and design. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  11. Buchanan, C. M., Maccoby, E. E., & Dornbusch, S. M. (1996). Adolescents after divorce. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  12. Chandra, A., Burns, R. M., Tanielian, T., Jaycox, L. H., & Scott, M. M. (2008). Understanding the impact of deployment on children and families: Findings from a pilot study of Operation Purple camp participants. RAND report (peer-reviewed). Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation.Google Scholar
  13. Chandra, A., Sandraluz, L. C., Jaycox, L. H., Tanielian, T., Burns, R. M., Ruder, T., & Han, B. (2010). Children on the homefront: The experience of children from military families. Pediatrics, 125, 16–25.Google Scholar
  14. Chandra, A., Sandraluz, L. C., Jaycox, L. H., Tanielian, T., Han, B., Burns, R. M., & Ruder, T. (2011). Views from the homefront: The experiences of youth and spouses from military families. TR-913 (peer-reviewed). Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation.Google Scholar
  15. Chartrand, M. M., Frank, D. A., White, L. F., & Shope, T. R. (2008). Effect of parents’ wartime deployment on the behavior of young children in military families. Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, 162(11), 1009–1014. doi: 10.1001/archpedi.162.11.1009.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Cicchetti, D. (1995). Perspectives on developmental psychopathology. In D. Cicchetti & D. Cohen (Eds.), Developmental Psychopathology (Vol. 1). New York, NY: Wiley.Google Scholar
  17. Coleman, P. K., & Karraker, K. H. (2000). Parenting self-efficacy among mothers of school-age children: Conceptualization, measurement, and correlates. Family Relations, 49, 13–24. doi: 10.1111/j.1741-3729.2000.00013.x CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Davies, P. T., & Cummings, E. M. (1994). Marital conflict and child adjustment: An emotional security hypothesis. Psychological Bulletin, 116, 387–411.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Drummet, A. R., Coleman, M., & Cable, S. (2003). Military families under stress: Implications for family life education. Family Relations, 52, 279–287.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Erel, O., & Burman, B. (1995). Interrelatedness of marital relations and parent–child relations: A meta-analytic review. Psychological Bulletin, 118, 108–132.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Everson, R. B., Darling, C. A., & Herzog, J. R. (2013). Parenting stress among U.S. army spouses during combat-related deployments: The role of sense of coherence. Child and Family Social Work, 18, 168–178.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Flake, E. M., Davis, B. E., Johnson, P. L., & Middleton, L. S. (2009). The psychosocial effects of deployment on military children. Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, 30(4), 271–278. doi: 10.1097/DBP.0b013e3181aac6e4 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Ge, X., Conger, R., Lorenz, F., Shanahan, M., & Elder, G. (1995). Mutual influence in parent and adolescent psychological distress. Developmental Psychology, 31, 406–419.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Gibbs, D. A., Martin, S. L., Clinton-Sherrod, M., Hardison Walters, J. L., & Johnson, R. E. (2011). Child maltreatment within military families. In S. M. Wadsworth & D. Riggs (Eds.), Risk and Resilience in U.S. Military Families (pp. 111–130). New York, NY: Springer.Google Scholar
  25. Gorman, G. H., Eide, M., & Hisle-Gorman, E. (2010). Wartime military deployment and increased pediatric mental and behavioral health complaints. Pediatrics, 126, 1058–1066. doi: 10.1542/peds.2009-2856 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Hall, L., Williams, C. A., & Greenberg, R. S. (1985). Supports, stressors, and depressive symptoms in mothers of young children. American Journal of Public Health, 75, 518–521.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Hetherington, E. M., & Clingempeel, W. G. (1992). Coping with marital transitions. Monographs of the society for research in child development (Vol. 57). Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  28. Hillenbrand, E. D. (1976). Father absence in military families. The Family Coordinator, 25(4), 451–458.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Hosek, J., Kavanaugh, J., & Miller, L. (2006). How deployments affect service member. Santa Monica, CA: RAND.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Huebner, A. J., Mancini, J. A., Wilcox, R. M., Grass, S. R., & Grass, G. A. (2007). Parental deployment and youth in military families: Exploring uncertainty and ambiguous loss. Family Relations, 56, 112–122.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Jaycox, L., Stein, B. D., Paddock, S., Miles, J., Chandra, A., Meredith, L. S., & Burnam, M. A. (2009). Impact of teen depression on academic, social and physical functioning. Pediatrics, 124(4), 596–605.Google Scholar
  32. Jensen, P. S., Grogan, D., Xenakis, S. N., & Bain, M. W. (1989). Father absence: Effects on child and maternal psychopathology. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 28(2), 171–175.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Jensen, P. S., Martin, D., & Watanabe, H. (1996). Children’s response to parental separation during operation desert storm. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 35(4), 433–441.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Kelley, M., Herzog-Simmer, P., & Harris, M. (1994). Effects of military-induced separation on the parenting stress and family functioning of deploying mothers. Women in the Navy, 6, 125–138.Google Scholar
  35. Lara-Cinisomo, S., Chandra, A., Burns, R. M., Jaycox, L. H., Tanielian, T., Ruder, T., & Han, B. (2012). A mixed-method approach to understanding the experiences of non-deployed military caregivers. Maternal and Child Health Journal, 16, 374–384. (Online first, 2011).Google Scholar
  36. Lester, P., Peterson, K., Reeves, J., Knaus, L., & Glover, D. (2010). The long war and parental combat deployment: Effects on military children and at-home spouses. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 49, 310–320.Google Scholar
  37. Levai, M., Kaplan, S., Ackermann, R., & Hammock, M. (1995). The effect of father absence on the psychiatric hospitalization of Navy children. Military Medicine, 160(3), 104–106.Google Scholar
  38. Maholmes, V. (2012). Adjustment of children and youth in military families: Toward developmental understandings. Child Development Perspectives, 6, 430–435.Google Scholar
  39. McCubbin, M. A. (1993). Family stress theory and the development of nursing knowledge about family adaptation. In S. L. Feetham, S. B. Meister, J. M. Bell, & C. L. Gillis (Eds.), The nursing family (pp. 46–58). New Bury Park, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  40. Minuchin, S. (1974). Families and family therapy. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  41. Mmari, K., Roche, K. M., Sudhinarest, M., & Blum, R. (2009). When a parent goes off to war: Exploring the issues faced by adolescents and their families. Youth & Society, 40, 455–475.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Morris, A. S., & Age, T. R. (2009). Adjustment among youth in military families: The protective roles of effortful control and maternal social support. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 30, 695–707.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Ogbu, J. (1981). Origins of human competence?: A cultural ecological perspective. Child Development, 52, 413–429.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Patterson, J. M., & McCubbin, H. I. (1987). Adolescent coping style and behaviors: Conceptualization and measurement. Journal of Adolescence, 10, 163–186.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Piaget, J. (1977). The development of thought: Equilibrium of cognitive structures. New York, NY: Viking.Google Scholar
  46. Pincus, S., House, R., Christenson, J., & Adler, L. (2004). The emotional cycle of deployment: A military family perspective. Retrieved December 21, 2005, from
  47. Repetti, R. L. (1987). Links between work and family role. In S. Oskamp (Ed.), Family Processes and Problems: Social Psychological Aspects (pp. 98–127). Newbury Park, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  48. Rossi, A., & Rossi, P. (1990). Of human bonding: Parent–child relations across the life course. New York, NY: Aldine de Gruyter.Google Scholar
  49. Seal, K. H., Metzler, T. J., Gima, K. S., Bertenthal, D., Maguen, S., & Marmar, C. R. (2009). Trends and risk factors for mental health diagnoses among Iraq and Afghanistan veterans using Department of Veterans Affairs Health Care, 2002–2008. American Journal of Public Health, 99, 1651–1658.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Segal, M. W. (1986). The military and the family as greedy institutions. Armed Forces and Society, 13, 9–38.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Shucksmith, J. (1995). Models of parenting: Implications for adolescent well-being within different types of family contexts. Journal of Adolescence, 18, 253–270.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Sobolewski, J. M., & Amato, P. R. (2005). Economic hardship in the family of origin and children’s psychological well-being in adulthood. Journal of Marriage and Family, 67, 141–156.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Speck, K., & Riggs, D. S. (2011). Differences in the parenting styles of military and civilian mothers. Presented to the third MFRI International Research Symposium on Military and Veteran Families.Google Scholar
  54. Varni, J. W., Burwinkle, T. M., & Seid, M. (2006). The PedsQL™ 4.0 as a school population health measure: Feasibility, reliability, and validity. Quality of Life Research, 15, 203–215.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Wiens, T. W., & Boss, P. (2006). Maintaining family resiliency before, during, and after military separation. In C. A. Castro, A. B. Adler, & T. W. Britt (Eds.), Military life: The psychology of serving in peace and combat (Vol. 3, pp. 13–38). Westport, CT: Praeger Security International.Google Scholar
  56. Willerton, E., Wadsworth, S. M., & Riggs, D. (2011). Introduction: Military families under stress: What we know and what we need to know. In S. M. Wadsworth & D. Riggs (Eds.), Risk and Resilience in U.S. Military Families (pp. 1–20). New York, NY: Springer.Google Scholar
  57. Wright, K. M., Burrell, L. M., Schroeder, E. D., & Thomas, J. L. (2006). Military spouses: Coping with the fear and the reality of service member injury and death. In C. A. Castro, A. B. Adler, & T. W. Britt (Eds.), Military Life: The Psychology of Serving in Peace and Combat (Vol. 3, pp. 64–90). Westport, CT: Praeger Security International.Google Scholar
  58. Yeatman, G. W. (1981). Parental separation and the military child. Military Medicine, 146, 320–322.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.RAND CorporationArlingtonUSA

Personalised recommendations