The Impact of a Parent's Military Deployment on Children

JOPLIN, MO-- When military parents deploy, the absence can be tough on the kids they leave behind. A look at the potential impact.

"Especially with the younger ones, their identity is really formed by their interaction with their parents. They go to protest first like 'Hey, where'd you go?' and then they move to a sense of despair like they're protesting. But nobody is responding. So then they go to detachment." But Dr. Kimberly Fielding with Will's Place says the impact is different for young school age children. Parents normally help them understand social rules. "Here's what your manners are, but also what you interact with people. So when that parent isn't present during that age span that child feels really insecure, has difficulty really knowing what's expected. We notice it a lot in academics."

For adolescents, it's learning their role in the world. The parent is often a role model. "By adolescence, that kid might be disconnecting and having a hard time with intimacy. Not romantic type but really knowing how to share their heart, how to share their feelings." Which can lead to anger, irritability and depression. It's not necessarily an issue for short periods, but could be an issue if it lasts over time. "By period of time, if you've got a month, and the behaviors and emotions are at what you'd consider an extreme, I'd definitely get some help."

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