Effects of Military-Induced Separation on the Parenting Stress and Family Functioning of Deploying Mothers

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In this study we examined the responses of 118 U.S. Navy deploying mothers on the Parenting Stress Index (Abidin, 1990), the Maternal Separation Anxiety Scale (Hock, McBride, & Gnezda, 1989), the Parenting Dimensions Inventory (Power, 1991; Slater & Power, 1987), and on two subscales of the Family Environment Scale (R. H. Moos & B. Moos, 1981). Parenting and family functioning were affected by point in the mothers' deployment cycle and marital status. Women anticipating a deployment reported significantly higher levels of parenting stress and more sensitivity to children than those who had recently returned from deployment. Single mothers reported more separation anxiety, less family cohesiveness, and less family organization than did married mothers. Results are discussed in terms of the additional stress accompanying the predeployment phase and the unique challenges faced by single parents, as well as the distinctive concerns of deploying mothers.

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