Military-Induced Separation in Relation to Maternal Adjustment and Children's Behaviors

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Abstract

Sixty-one mothers of 5- to 13-year-old children completed measures of depressive behavior, dysphoria, self-esteem, and children's behavior before, during, and after a peacetime or wartime military-induced separation. Maternal adjustment and child behavior differed as a function of the type of deployment. Maternal depressive behavior significantly decreased over time during a routine separation. Mothers of younger children reported lower self-esteem than did mothers of older children. Women whose husbands were deployed during the Persian Gulf War reported more dysphoria than did a matched sample of peacetime subjects. Internalizing and externalizing behavior decreased over time for children whose fathers experienced a routine deployment but stayed the same for children whose fathers were deployed during the Persian Gulf War. Results are discussed in terms of the additional stress facing families with a member in a combat (or potential combat) situation.

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