When a parent is deployed: Implications for military families service professionals

first_imgHuebner and Mancini (2005) emphasize the importance of educating youth-serving professionals and other support personnel about the unique situation of adolescents with deployed parents. Because a broad array of formal support organizations come in contact with adolescents in military families, all could benefit from receiving information about families and deployment.  They say it is important to:Ensure appropriate support systems for the at-home parent.Recognize signs and symptoms of depression and other mental health issues in adolescents.Support formal and informal networks of adolescents by intentionally developing networking skills among adolescents that include how to communicate feelings and how to develop bonds with other military adolescents.Recruit adolescents to participate in programs that include recreation as well as life skills development (e.g. stress reduction, cooking, car repair, babysitting, budgeting, etc.).Partner with other youth-serving organizations to increase the number of program options.Develop public awareness campaigns to educate local communities about issues facing military families.Recognize the range of emotions experienced by adolescents when a parent is deployed and tailor intervention efforts to deal with these complexities. Exploring Military Deployment Through the Eyes of Youth: Implications for Research and PracticeAt the Children, Youth and Families At Risk (CYFAR) Conference 2008, San Antonio, TX, Dr. Huebner discussed her research on the impact of parental deployment on teens in a research presentation entitled, Exploring Military Deployment Through the Eyes of Youth: Implications for Research and Practice. Heather Williams, a teen whose father was deployed three times in the Navy, Marines and Army, discussed her personal experience.In this archived video of their presentation, Dr. Huebner and Ms. Williams discuss implications for service providers working with youth in military families. When a parent is deployed:  Implications for military families service professionalsMilitary families are currently experiencing emotional trauma and issues of deployment at unprecedented levels. Many parents will be deployed for at least a year—and some will experience multiple deployments.Over 1.4 million men and women are on active duty in the U.S. military, and another 848,000 are serving in the reserve forces or the National Guard.  More than one third of these 2.2 million service members are married with children. Many of these families are young, newly married couples with infants and young children.  Many have limited financial resources.Although children will have different reactions, all children are likely to experience stress when a parent is deployed.  The National Council on Family Relations recommends an increase in prevention and outreach programs to promote resiliency among military families.But what, specifically, are the implications of multiple deployments for those who work with military families?  In their report to the Military Family Research Institute and Dept. of Defense’s Quality of Life Office, Angela J. Huebner, Ph.D. and Jay A. Mancini, Ph.D., (2005) focused on the affect of deployment on children. Their findings provide a context for exploring new ways to support children who have a deployed parent.  The following highlights their recommendations (p. 4-6):Develop educational materials for parents that include information about the importance of taking a developmentally appropriate and intentional approach to discussing deployment and subsequent family changes with adolescents.Recognize that adolescents’ behaviors and emotions may vary with different stages of the deployment cycle, each requiring attention from parents.Model appropriate self-care and stress reduction, so that adolescents do not feel responsible for parental emotional well-being.Focus on the importance of consistent expectations about school work and behavior when families are experiencing stress related to deployment.Emphasize the importance of maintaining family rituals and creating new ones to support family identity and continuity.Develop an awareness that adolescents often do not have adequate ways to discuss their worries about deployment, and that some adolescents do not speak with anyone about their concerns.Encourage adolescents to gain new life skills in areas such as stress management, cooking, budgeting, car maintenance, and lawn care—skills that can prepare them to take on more responsibilities at home. ReferencesHuebner, A. J., & Mancini, J. A. (June, 2005). Adjustment among adolescents in military families when a parent is deployed: A final report submitted to the Military Family Research Institute and the Department of Defense Quality of Life Office. Falls Church, Virginia: Virginia Tech, Department of Human Development. Retrieved September 17, 2011 at:  http://www.juvenilecouncil.gov/materials/june_8_2007/MFRI%20final%20report%20JUNE%202005.pdflast_img

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