Link Between Deployment Factors and Parenting Stress in Military Families
Name: Abigail Marter
Organization: University of Virginia
Performance Site: University of Virginia School of Nursing; Naval Medical Center Portsmouth (NMCP), VA
Year Published: 2013
There are currently 200,000 military personnel deployed in a combat zone, with one third of U.S. forces married with children under the age of six. When a military service member is deployed, families are affected. If parenting stress is significantly increased after a parental deployment, this could lead to poor family and child outcomes. The primary aim of this study is to explore the relationship between deployment factors and parenting stress: a) in recently returned male active duty parents, and b) in female civilian spouses of the recently returned active duty parents. The secondary aim is to examine whether and to what extent social support and spirituality impact parenting stress: a) in recently returned male active duty parents, and b) in female civilian spouses of the recently returned active duty parents. The tertiary aim is to examine the possible moderating effect of social support and spirituality on the relationship between deployment factors and early childhood parenting stress. Demographic variables will be controlled for in all aims.
This feasibility study will use a correlational research design looking at U.S. Navy parent dyads. Major independent variables will be deployment factors (perceived threat of most recent deployment, warfare exposure of most recent deployment, length of time away from home related to deployments in the past five years, number of deployments in the past five years), social support, and spirituality. The sample will consist of at least 25 military parent dyads. Instruments to be used will be the Parenting Stress Index, subscales of the Deployment Risk and Resiliency Instrument (Deployment Concerns, Combat Experiences, and Post-Battle Experiences Scales), the Social Support Survey Instrument, and the Daily Spiritual Experience Scale. The dependent variable will be parenting stress. Hierarchical multiple regression will be used for analyses.
It is known that the mental health of the parent affects the mental health of the child, and that increases in parenting stress are associated with increases in child behavioral problems. If these processes can be identified early, interventions can be designed to assist parents, and children of military families will experience healthy environments for growth and development.