Effects of Military Parents' Separation on Children


Name: Pamela Birgenheier

Rank: CPT, USA

Organization: Madigan Army Medical Center

Performance Site: Madigan Army Medical Center, Tacoma, WA

Year Published: 1993

Abstract Status: Initial


Family separation to perform military duties is a common occurrence for today's active duty soldier. During the 1960s, the military force was composed of 2% women; today it is greater than 10%. Additionally, 14% of the women and 4% of the men in the military are single parents (Magnusson & Payne, 1991). The traditional military family is no longer limited to single soldiers or an active duty male with dependents. With these changes, it is common for children to be separated from their mothers or fathers for varying periods of time. Some soldiers will spend months and even years away from their spouses and children in the line of duty. The purpose of this study is to provide the military and military community with valuable information on the experiences of children during periods of parental separation for military duty. Specifically, the study will answer the following two research questions: (1) When separated from a parent for military duty, do school-aged children from military families have more behavioral problems than military children not separated from a parent? (2) Do school-aged children separated from their mothers for military duty demonstrate different behaviors than those children separated from their fathers for military duty? In this descriptive study, 360 school-aged children will be divided into three main groups (father absent, n = 120; mother absent, n = 120; and no parent absent, n = 120) each containing four sub-groups (males ages 6-10, n = 30; females ages 6-10, n = 30; males ages >10-14, n = 30; females ages >10-14, n = 30). Achenbach's 1991 Child Behavior Checklist and Scoring System will be used to measure competencies and behavior problems in the children as reported by the primary care giver. Information obtained from the study will be used as a basis in the development of future nursing interventions aimed at enhancing military family relations during periods of deployment.