When A Parent Is Deployed: The Challenge Of Being A Non-Deployed Parent
Current research has revealed that children of deployed parents are experiencing heightened levels of emotional and behavioral problems. To learn more about the challenges facing military families, I had an opportunity to speak and correspond with Dr. Anita Chandra, who is a Behavioral Scientist and the Manager of the Behavioral and Social Sciences group at the RAND Corporation.
Dr. Chandra and colleagues have conducted a number of studies to examine the effects of deployment on families. Some of the most important findings concern the challenges facing non-deployed spouses and changes in family functioning. Here’s what Dr. Chandra had to say:
Our research shows that non-deployed parents are facing new household responsibilities, changes in employment (e.g., going back to work full time), and new ways of co-parenting with a parent who is overseas. These stressors are not only affecting parent well-being, but that stress is having an effect on how children are doing.
Dr. Chandra also suggests that when under stress, many parents often “put themselves last” and worry more about their children. That said, she emphasizes how important it is for non-deployed parents to try to find ways to take time out for themselves and find ways to de-stress.
One way to do this may be to lean on neighbors and communities for help. Consider these thoughts from Dr. Chandra:
Most military families live in communities and not on base or a military installation. It is important that military families feel that their neighbors understand what life is like for them, and lend a hand when they can. You may not know you have a military family living next door, particularly as many parents serve in the National Guard or Reserve. Schools, community organizations, and churches can all show their support for families, particularly when a parent deploys. Some families may not want help, but others may benefit from help with things as simple as mowing the lawn and other household chores. For teachers and other school staff, just knowing if a child has a parent (or parents) in the military can help you anticipate any potential emotional, social, and/or academic changes and be proactive in reaching out to family.
These excellent suggestions are especially important to keep in mind as the deployment time continues – the stresses do add up and there will be an increasing need for friends and community to offer both practical help and psychological support.
In my next post, I will discuss Dr. Chandra’s insights based on her research on children of deployed parents.Add a Comment