A qualitative examination of the reintegration experiences of Australian Defense Force families
The profound development that occurs during the first five years of a child’s life may contribute to military families with young children facing unique challenges during reintegration. Yet, little is known about the reintegration experiences of military families with young children, and less so from the perspectives of non-deployed parents and families outside of the US. In this qualitative study, we explored the reintegration experiences of Australian Defense Force (ADF) families with young children (five years and younger). Through written responses to open-ended prompts, ADF service members (n = 9) and their non-deployed spouses (n = 38) reflected on periods of reintegration and discussed their family’s adaption during this time. Using thematic analysis, six themes representing the reintegration experiences of these families were generated from the data. Four themes were generated from the combined experiences of service members and non-deployed parents, while a further two themes were generated from the experiences of non-deployed parents only. Relational and parenting challenges were at the forefront of reintegration experiences. These findings offer meaningful implications for practice and research to improve the quality of parent-child relationships and enhance outcomes for military families with young children during reintegration.
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