Experience of Military Separation/Deployment for Young Children

Experience of Military Separation/Deployment for Young Children


Name: Janice Agazio

Rank: LTC (Ret)

Presenter/Poster: Both

Year: 2018


Using a mixed method comparative descriptive design with embedded quantitative measures, the purpose of this study was to describe the experience of military duty-related separations/deployment for children ages 4-10 years of age compared to parental perceptions.
Background : To date, few studies have considered the effects of parental separation upon younger children who are part of a military family. Most military separation research has been with older school aged and adolescents.
Objectives: How do children aged 4-10 years of age describe the experience of military separations/deployment? What are parental perceptions of how their children experienced parental absence for military duty/deployment? What are useful strategies parents have found helpful in managing separations/deployments for their children?
Study Methods:. Parents completed demographic forms, FACES IV, and a parental stress scale followed by an interview to describe the child’s reaction to separation. Children participated in a draw-and-tell conversation and photo elicitation interview for their perceptions of the separation. Findings are compared between parental and child participants. Descriptive analysis for family stress and functioning.
Study findings: To date 30 families have participated. Data collection and analysis are ongoing at this time but would present preliminary findings. Interview data reveal a turbulent experience for families from frequent and repeated separations with active strategy utilization by parents. This presentation would focus upon interview data from children and their drawings that depict family cohesiveness and separation impact. Many reveal resilience and coping with strong reliance on the at-home parent. Relationships with the deployed/separated parent has been reliant upon ability to maintain frequent contact, adequate preparation, and continuation of usual activities in familiar environments.
Implications for military nursing: Being able to compare and contrast the different perspectives will provide new insights as to the strategies military families use to maintain stability during deployment and how children perceive the experience of a parental deployment from their perspective. Findings will be useful in providing anticipatory guidance and intervention strategies other families have found helpful during the experience.