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Children of the U.S. National Guard: Making meaning and responding to parental deployment

APA Citation:

Thompson, D. E., Baptist, J., Miller, B., & Henry, U. (2017). Children of the US National Guard: Making meaning and responding to parental deployment. Youth & Society, 49(8), 1040–1056. https://doi.org/10.1177/0044118X15570883

Abstract Created by REACH:

National Guard youth at a summer camp participated in an individual interview regarding their behavior during parental deployment. Participants described a range of responses, including assuming additional household tasks to maintaining typical routines. Some youth intentionally withdrew from family relationships to avoid conflict or minimize stress on the at-home parent.


Mental health

Branch of Service:

Air Force
Multiple branches

Military Affiliation:


Subject Affiliation:

Child of a service member or veteran
Guard/Reserve member
Military families


Adolescence (13 - 17 yrs)


Empirical Study
Qualitative Study


Thompson, David E., Baptist, Joyce, Miller, Bryant, Henry, Una


This qualitative study explored how 24 youths’ behaviors during deployment were influenced by their perceptions of their non-deployed parents. Interviews were conducted with youths of previously deployed National Guard parents. Analysis of interviews suggests that the youths’ interactions with their non-deployed parents strongly influence their behaviors during deployment. Examined through the lenses of family systems and symbolic interaction, youths appear to base their behaviors upon perceptions of their non-deployed parents’ abilities to cope and manage the changes brought about during deployment. The majority of youths report reacting in ways intended to help their parents and families—whether by stepping up and assisting their non-deployed parents, or withdrawing physically or emotionally to reduce the emotional strain on parents. Implications of findings are discussed.

Publisher/Sponsoring Organization:

SAGE Publications

Publication Type:

REACH Publication

Author Affiliation:

School of Family Studies and Human Services, Kansas State University, DET
Kansas State University, JB
Marriage and Family Therapy Program, Kansas State University, BM
Kansas State University, UH


national guard, deployment, qualitative, military-connected youth, symbolic interaction, family systems

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REACH Publication Type:

Research Summary


Kansas State University, College of Human Ecology, US

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