The adaptation of the family system to separation and reunion : an exploratory study of military families.
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Arts
Extended periods of parent-child separation is a stressor that some families face due to vocational factors, immigration, incarceration and other interruptions in family living arrangements. Research suggests that these families are at increased risk for child behavioral and academic difficulties, mental health issues, and other psycho-social challenges. Within military families, extended periods of separation are relatively common, but are also compounded by additional risks that accompany a military deployment. The present study employed a cross-sectional mixed-methods research design to examine adaptations that occurred across the deployment cycle in a sample of 28 military couples (with at least one child), who had recently experienced a deployment. Quantitative analyses showed that the military parents found the post deployment period more challenging than the pre deployment period, while the home parents rated the deployment period as the most challenging. Additionally, a number of interesting associations were found; for example, increased military risk during deployment was linked with higher relationship satisfaction and reduced mental health challenges after deployment. Qualitative analyses supported these interesting findings and provided examples of common resilience factors across these families along with additional indicators of how these military families adapted to separation and reunion. Results are discussed in regards to how they align with family systems theory and previous research in the area.