Single Military Parents: Prevalence & Effects

first_imgBy Kacy Mixon, M.S., LMFTParenting demands can be incredibly difficult to manage, especially when coupled with work obligations. It comes as no surprise, then, that single parents who are juggling the day-to-day responsibilities associated with caring for their children can feel increasingly overwhelmed when faced with parenting demands. Circumstances surrounding single parenting roles can involve added responsibilities of household management and less time for themselves to socialize with other adults. One study found that 31% of single fathers felt that time was their major concern. Research has also shown single mothers report less satisfaction with their emotional support systems, more stress, and poor well-being including feeling lonely, strained, and tired [1]. There are around 73,000 active-duty single parents in the military [2]. These individuals comprise over 5% of the overall active-duty military population [2]. The image below shows the breakdown of single parents by military branch [2]:[Flickr, 130922-Z-OU450-266 by North Carolina National Guard, CC BY-ND 2.0] Retrieved on September 17, 2015Single military parents face the dual challenges of military family life and single parenthood. For this reason single military parents often need complex strategies for balancing their military career with family life [1].Beyond financial hardship commonly experienced by single parents, 53 % of single military mothers and 55% of single military fathers have reported difficulty managing work and family stress.  Research indicates few differences among single military mothers and fathers and occupational stress [1]. However, one difference shown for single fathers was that as the number of years in the military grew, the number of supportive people in their lives decreased. Within the civilian population, there are more single mothers [3]. In the military, however, there are more single fathers. In fact, for every single military mother, there are 2.8 single military fathers [1].Single Military Parents and Deployment: There are some beneficial military programs that assist with deployment and parenting demands of military personnel such as family readiness groups and some policies can help to optimize the length and timing of deployment to meet needs of families. For single military parents, relocation of children during deployment can be an added stressor causing additional family stress as relatives or child caregivers may be located hundreds of miles away. To relocate their children before they have to deploy, single parents may have to take personal leave time and pay for travel expenses out of pocket [4].The predominance of single parents in the military coupled with documented added stressors associated with this family configuration, mean that this is an important issue for professionals who work with military families to consider.  Awareness of common struggles faced by single military parents may be useful when coming up with strategies for prevention and intervention.References[1] Kelley, M.L. (2006). Single military parents in the new millennium. In C.A. Castro, A.B. Adler, and T.W. Britt (Eds.), Military life: The psychology of serving in peace and combat (pp. 93-103). Wesport, CT: Praeger Security International[2] Wilson, E. (May, 2010). Single moms juggle military, home demands. American Forces Press Services.[3] Blanchard, S. (2012). Are the needs of single parents serving in the Air Force being met? Advances in Social Work, 13(1), 83-97.[4] Goodman, P., Turner, A., Agazio, J., Throop, M., Padden, D., Greiner, S., & Hillier, S. (2013). Deployment of military mothers: Supportive and non-supportive military programs, processes and policies. Military Medicine, 178(7), 729-734. This post was written by Kacy Mixon, M.S., LMFT, Social Media Specialist.  She is a member of the MFLN Family Development (FD) team which aims to support the development of professionals working with military families. Find out more about the Military Families Learning Network FD concentration on our website, on Facebook, on Twitter, YouTube, and on LinkedIn.last_img

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