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24 April 2020

Posttraumatic Stress Disorder and Familial Relationships

Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a challenge that some military service members and their families face. PTSD can strain familial relationships and negatively affect family well-being. There is no need to fret, however, because I will tell you how strengthening couple/parent relationships may help minimize the strain PTSD may place on your family.

Research has shown that parental PTSD was associated with poor child well-being (e.g., self-esteem), increased parental supervision, and harsher parenting. However, there is still some good news. Although parental PTSD was associated with poor child well-being, research suggests that parenting behaviors are, at least, partially responsible for child well-being. This means that PTSD in and of itself does not mean doom and gloom for children, but instead the parenting behaviors you employ may improve child well-being.

But wait, there is more good news! Research has also shown that couple relationship satisfaction was associated with more effective parenting behaviors, which in turn was associated with greater child well-being. In other words, focusing on your relationship can positively impact child well-being.

So, how can you improve your parenting behaviors?

  • Focusing on the couple relationship may be the first step in addressing the negative effects of PTSD on parenting and child well-being. Plan a regular date night (e.g., movie night, explore local hiking trails, visit a museum together, attend a community event) engaging in novel activities that both partners will enjoy to bolster relationship satisfaction.
  • The management of PTSD symptoms through therapy or group programs may translate into improved parenting behaviors and thus better child well-being. Explore treatment options in your community through maketheconnection.net
  • Explore opportunities to improve parenting behaviors (e.g., problem-solving, discipline) through program participation.
  • Integrate more positive parenting behaviors like:
    • Praise for children acting appropriately
    • Follow through with consequences for inappropriate behavior
    • Regularly communicate with older children/adolescents about their friends, interests, and extracurricular activities

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