Adolescents' Perceptions of the Relationships with their Parents in the Context of Parental Military Deployment: A Systems Theory Perspective

TR Number
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Virginia Tech

This study sought to explore how adolescents' relationships with both of their parents changed over the course of parental military deployment. Participants were 9 adolescents, 12-13 years old, that participated in a focus group. Family systems theory was the guiding lens for qualitative data analysis, which included constant comparative and open and axial coding. Two dominant patterns emerged: 1) process that promoted relationship closeness and 2) process that promoted relationship distance. Processes that promoted relationship closeness included clear communication, connectedness with the at-home parent, togetherness, and flexibility of roles. Processes that promoted relationship distance included restricted communication, at-home parent disengagement, deployed parent disconnectedness and lack of role shifting. Findings suggest processes evident in adolescent relationships with their parents during deployment indicative of adjustment outcomes. Clinical implications and future research are discussed.

Parent-Adolescent Relationship, Role, Communication, Adjustment