According to a study published in October 2010 by the Department of Defense, approximately 2.1 million service members were deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan at that time. Almost half of those deployed service members (44%) were parents. Of the deployed parents, 48% served at least two tours of duty. Deployment doesn’t always coincide with moving but, according to the National Military Family Association, children of deployed service members change schools an average of six to nine times over the course of their elementary and high school education.
That’s a tremendous impact on A LOT of children! But it’s not all doom and gloom. Many kids in military families are resilient and can see the benefits of frequent moves. Things like flexibility, variety of life experience, getting to “see the world,” are a few of the benefits kids report. The fact remains that change and transition, especially as frequently as experienced by military families, has an impact. But risk factors are not the whole story. Protective factors are key to helping kids, even those who don’t have a parent serving in the Armed Forces, thrive in adulthood.
How do parents and caregivers provide the needed support to their children? First and foremost is getting concrete support in times of need. Both parents and kids need support so find the organizations in your area that support kids. Beyond providing emotional support, parents must work to help children gain “emotional literacy”. Understanding and supporting the social-emotional development of children is a key protective factor in families that “beat the odds.” For more on emotional literacy, see previous posts here and here.
For more information about the Moving Families Initative, please visit www.movingfamiliesinitiative.com.