Health and Social Work
Although often eagerly anticipated, reuniﬁcation after deployment poses challenges for families, including adjusting to the parent-soldier's return, re-establishing roles and routines, and the potentially necessary accommodation to combat-related injuries or psychological effects. Fourteen male service members, previously deployed to a combat zone, parent to at least one child under seven years of age, were interviewed about their relationships with their young children. Principles of grounded theory guided data analysis to identify key themes related to parenting young children after deployment. Participants reported significant levels of parenting stress and identified specific challenges, including difficulty reconnecting with children, adapting expectations from military to family life, and coparenting. Fathers acknowledged regret about missing an important period in their child's development and indicated a strong desire to improve their parenting skills. They described a need for support in expressing emotions, nurturing, and managing their tempers. Results affirm the need for support to military families during reintegration and demonstrate that military fathers are receptive to opportunities to engage in parenting interventions. Helping fathers understand their children's behavior in the context of age-typical responses to separation and reunion may help them to renew parent-child relationships and reengage in optimal parenting of their young children. (Author abstract)
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