For many years military children have been encountering many challenges that are due to combat deployment of their parents either overseas or within the country. These challenges are expected to be mainly arduous to newborns, kids, and preschool children due to their emotional and cognitive immaturity. This also results from their dependence on mysterious thinking, and their belief upon their parents for healthy development. In this context it is important to note there are exceptional needs of military children and the ethnically informed services that are compulsory for them to overcome these challenges.
There are over 1.5 military children in the United States and especially in public schools. This occurs as a result of deployment of one of their parents in the military. Also, there are significant complications especially for those children whose parents have overseas deployment. This implies that the academic expectations, social life, family, and community articulations of these children are generally and emotionally vulnerable. Military children are affected by deployments that are defined in the scope of scheduled training exercises or missions and planned peacekeeping rotations, overseas duties, and combat. Deployment can be seeing as one of the defining part military life and is experienced by most military children.
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Research has been on what can be done to protect military children and families from the adverse effects of deployment. The need for various intervention approaches to these problems cannot ignore because parents play an integral part in the growth and perception of their children. Britt, Adler & Castro (2006) found out that military deployments and duty related separations are one of the defining experiences for military service members and especially children. Although studies indicate that deployment can indeed strengthen military children in their families the impact of deployment is to largely affect the children whose parents have been deployed especially overseas.
Leavitt & Fox (1993) says that children of Vietnam veterans for example exhibited an enmeshed parent child relationship whereby it was noted that the children had difficulty in separating where to begin and his dad ends. Leavitt & Fox (1993) says that when the son reaches or attains adolescence it was noted that his normal efforts to reach individualization was more disruptive to the family. There is therefore a need for an approach that would adopt a more traditional, child-centered approach in order to deal effectively with traumatized children. One of the most important approaches can be gained from the enriched knowledge that people gained from the Gulf War. Leavitt & Fox (1993) says that “one of this approaches is to consider a broader contextual view of the study of people, in general and children, particularly who have been exposed to stressful circumstances” (p. 349).
Deployment causes display distress, emotional or behavioral problems and risk taking behaviors (Wadsworth & Riggs, 2010). The impact on these children is aggravated by the lack of effective parenting which in turn helps the children to adjust to changes in family relationships and circumstances. Wadsworth & Riggs (2010) noted that a military child lack constructive communication within families and also with service providers in cases were both parents have been deployed. Poor child adjustment and stressful life events are normally associated with high rates of mental health symptoms and negative outcomes for children. Wadsworth & Riggs (2010) learned that separation from parents especially after deployment causes negative changes in family functioning following trauma and maternal preoccupation are related to poor child adjustment (p. 262). This therefore implies that there is a need of adopting intervention models that help to reduce distress and improve family and parental functioning so as to support the health and wellbeing of children (Wadsworth & Riggs, 2010).
Children whose parents have been deployed in the military experience behavior problems. Wadsworth & Riggs (2010) says that military child experiences internalizing and externalizing problems coupled with greater somatization and lower life satisfaction. According to Wadsworth & Riggs (2010) military child also experiences higher levels of distress and greater difficulty in relating interpersonally and managing their lives especially in situations where both parents have been deployed. In the child’s development perspective deployment will change the schedules of the children and routines of their lives because the physical and emotional unavailability of one or both parents. Wadsworth & Riggs (2010) says that this causes many changes in the child’s emotional tenor (anxiety, interpersonal abruptness, irritability) of their households. In addition, Britt, Adler & Castro (2006) says that the experience of deployment can be distressing for military children due to changes in familial relationships, loss of companionship, and parental support for military children.
Military child are faced with unique developmental challenges related to deployment. Wadsworth & Riggs (2010) says that at the times when the teen are expected to be independent and less reliant on family, they are faced with increased chores and care for younger children or their siblings. The apparent lack of both parents means that military child will not cope with developmental conflict. Wadsworth & Riggs (2010) further says that “military child especially those with preexisting emotional, behavioral, developmental, or medical conditions of their own require close monitoring” (p. 265). The implication is that children with preexisting health condition face challenges of health care or educational needs as a result of deployment.
Fulco & Liverman (2008) says that “young families are at greatest risk for coping with children who are distressed by deployment of one of their parents” (291). They further indicated that military child face a great distress may be related to anxieties or worries about separation from a parent. Fulco & Liverman (2008) argues that “generally boys and younger children appear to be more vulnerable to symptoms of depression related to the parent’s deployment. Several studies indicate that there is a great association between deployment and adverse psychosocial effects on children (p. 292).
Military children become overwhelmed by continuing deployment experiences. Carlton-ford & Ender (2010) Indicated that some of this children who initially react poorly to parental deployment, but they eventually develop strategies to cope with parental absences. According to Carlton-ford & Ender (2010) “research on the impact of deployments on children have found that they suffer emotional, behavioral, sex-role and health problems that manifest as changes in academic performance, personality changes and parent conflicts’ (p. 284). In their further studies, reactions of children to deployments of fathers include behavioral problems, emotional distress, and depression, difficulties in school work as well as relations to peers and family members and suicidal threats. Carlton-ford & Ender (2010) noted that the absence of mothers has the same or similar results but the children have greater susceptibility to anxiety and sadness.
Military children show variations in terms of gender and age difference in how they react to deployment and separations from their parents. Carlton-ford & Ender (2010) established that “the developmental impact of a life transition or event is contingent on when it occurs in a person’s life” (p. 284). In this context we expect that children’s adaptation to a deployment would be correlated to their age during deployment. Further studies show that boys and young children appear to be more susceptible to deployment effects (Carlton-ford & Ender, 2010). Children who do not have active existence of a parent face major challenges and trauma including feelings of isolation and apprehension but it has been noted that most military children negotiate with these challenges successfully (Carlton-ford & Ender, 2010).
In addition, Fulco & Liverman (2008) indicated that boys had more dysfunction than girls despite the girl’s parent deployment status and boys with deployed parent were more likely to have increased dysfunction than boys with non-deployed parent. On the other hand deployment on its own rarely provoked pathologic symptoms in otherwise healthy children. For example a study on the children whose parents were deployed in the gulf war expressed sadness and had eating and sleeping problems among other symptoms of distress Fulco & Liverman (2008).
To justify the need for this research problem, it is important to critique the existing literature and research for the purposes of delineating gaps in knowledge regarding military children and also strengthen the argument. Much of this research conducted so far is basically centered on the impacts upon the soldier’s as well as the mothers. Although some researchers have gone to the extent of investigating the adverse effects of deployment on children in general it is important to narrow down the study in terms of age groups and gender. With such information at hand the research will be conclusive, and will increase our understanding of this critical subject.
What’s missing in existing research?
The existing research gives a great deal of families whose fathers and mothers were deployed for war. According to Speziale, Streubert & Carpenter (2010) says that these previous research exhibits unique level of stressors the degree to which the children experience stress. Speziale, Streubert & Carpenter (2010) further say children’s previous experience with deployment, emotional development, and stability of the marriage, and developmental stage of the military child greatly determine the level impact and effects on deployment.
Existing research had collected data on children before the start of the war or the wars beginning and therefore as a result they were unable to prospectively evaluate the impact of deployment on the same children because this was perceived to appear later (Speziale, Streubert & Carpenter, 2010). Also, it is fundamental to learn that the existing research had a gap in establishing the comparisons between father deployments and mother deployments and further establish if the opposite will hold true.
What do you want to explore
The purpose of this study will be to investigate and describe the perceptions of military children in regard with separation from one or both the parents over the route of the deployment experience during wartime. Some of the questions the research will seek to answer include:
- Behavior changes on military child after deployment?
- The most affected age group?
- Which gender experiences great impact after the deployment?
This research will be limited to findings for the children based on reports from their mothers because in most cases their fathers are likely to be deployed unlike their mothers. It will be important to determine the direct and indirect reactions to the deployment on the part of children that differed (Carlton-ford & Ender, 2010). The research will explore personality changes in military children from ages of two years and above. Carlton-ford & Ender (2010) says that it will important that the research does investigate issues related to child isolation, existence and emergence of antisocial behavior or if the children carry out attempts of harming themselves. The behaviors of these children will be observed and compared with other research on deployment.
According to Carlton-ford & Ender (2010) it will be fundamental that the research explores how children suffer emotionally and behaviorally in relation to deployment. Other aspects that will be investigated will be military child personality changes. In this context, age will be significant because certain ages will be capable of coping well with deployments. Since deployment of fathers has same impacts as deployment of mother the research will also explore how deployment of mothers still affects the military children.
Gender is also an important feature in this study. This is because it is perceived that boys will react differently from girls whose one of the parents has been deployment. The research will also determine the scope of rebellion exhibited by boys as compared to the girls especially in association with deployment of their father. Speziale, Streubert & Carpenter (2010) says that the research should not ignore the comparison between normal life of military children and civilian children. This will help in determining the psychosocial functioning in military children.
The following assumptions will be made in the research problem. The first assumption will be that deployment separations are experienced differently by military children according to their age and gender. The second assumption will be that deployments are stressful to military children and the third assumption is that children will always desire to reduce the stressful nature of deployments for themselves and get assistance from other family members.
The methodology will entail features related to the participants, procedure, measures, data analyses, and finally the results. There will be a need to define the appropriate time period for collecting the data and at the same time determine the representation. The method will also help in defining the target population for data collection (Flake et.al, 2009). At this step it will be important to come up with the questionnaires and then obtain the completed surveys from the eligible respondents providing an overall weighted response (Carlton-ford & Ender, 2010).
What do you need to collect?
According to the journal by Flake et.al (2009) the research will collect data from army spouses with a deployed service number and at the same time have a child aged between 5 to 12 years of age. Flake et.al (2009) further says that it will be important to limit the sample to elementary school aged children so as to reduce the extraneous variability of behavioral responses associated with younger and older age groups.
In the process of data collection, age of the child will be put into consideration. Carlton-ford & Ender (2010) says the most appropriate age to consider will be 6.4 years. The gender of the child will play a critical role in data collection hence this research will assume a 50% representation for both male and female children. Another important feature that will be collected is the perceived stress scale, so as to evaluate stress levels. Carlton-ford & Ender (2010) says that the spouses will be asked about their children’s emotional experiences and reactions in the month before actually taking the survey.
How will you collect it?
Participants will be presented with validated surveys that will be short questionnaires focused on screening their child’s psychosocial morbidity and family stress. Carlton-ford & Ender (2010) says that it is important that every survey respondent will be asked to indicate whether the child most affected by parent deployment had experienced an increase or decrease or no change in behavior. The respondents will respond to all the items in the survey so that they can be included in the analysis.
Some of these items will represent negative behaviors or attitudes for which increases indicate poorer coping with parent deployment. Carlton-ford & Ender (2010) says that the items can be coded in such a way that an increase in the behavior will receive value 1. The other item can be used to represent positive behaviors or attitudes for which increases indicate better coping with parent (father or mother) deployment. Each of these behaviors can be summed to form a problem behavior scale and the scores can range from 0 to the maximum number of the survey questions. Carlton-ford & Ender (2010) says after that the average score sample will be determined.
What might you do with this collection of data?
After data collection obtained data will be analyzed using analyzes tools such as MS Excel, and SPSS. According to Flake et.al (2009) categorical variables will be analyzed using X2 testing while continuous variables will be tested using unpaired t-test. Flake et.al (2009) also said that it will be important to conduct linear and logistic regressions to help in determining the specific factors predictive of military child after deployment.
In conclusion, military children call for special requirements that put into consideration their discrete needs. Inadequate cognitive capability, dependence on magical thinking, larger reliance upon parental sustainability and involvement, coupled with emotional immaturity requires that military children receive unique support in accommodating to parental deployment. As parents work on adjusting their behaviors, dealing with physical and deployment trauma related issues, and plowing in newly identified parental roles, military children need to be supported in coping with the cognitive and anxiety challenges in ways that support their healthy adaptation. This research paper shows that military children undergo various experiences as a result of deployment which needs to be dealt with in cautious manner.
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