Type: Exploratory
Pages: 5 | Words: 1302
Reading Time: 6 Minutes

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.

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).

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