Coparenting across the deployment cycle: Observations from military families with young children
DeVoe, E., Ross, A., Spencer, R., Drew, A., Acker, M., Paris, R., & Jacoby, V. (2020). Coparenting across the deployment cycle: Observations from military families with young children. Journal of Family Issues, 41(9), 1447-1469. https://doi.org/10.1177/0192513X19894366
Abstract Created by REACH:
Coparenting is a dynamic process that involves coordination among the adults who are responsible for the care, upbringing, and socialization of their children, which continues even during times of family separation (e.g., deployment). This qualitative study was rooted in social ecological theory and sought to understand the coparenting experiences of service members and their home front partners across the deployment cycle (i.e., predeployment, deployment, and reintegration). Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 39 Service members (mostly National Guard and Reserve) and 31 home front parents who had at least one child who was five years old or younger during a war-related deployment. Findings suggest that home front parents play a significant role in managing parenting tasks during deployment and in facilitating a positive relationship between the deployed parent and child(ren).
Branch of Service:
Active duty service member
Spouse of service member or veteran
Adulthood (18 yrs & older)
Young adulthood (18 - 29 yrs)
Thirties (30 - 39 yrs)
Middle age (40 - 64 yrs)
DeVoe, Ellen R., Ross, Abigail M., Spencer, Renee, Drew, Alison, Acker, Michelle, Paris, Ruth, Jacoby, Vanessa
Contemporary service members and their partners have adapted their coparenting to respond to the specific transitions and disruptions associated with wartime deployment cycles and evolving child development. This qualitative study draws upon interviews with service member and home front parents of very young children to characterize their coparenting experiences throughout the deployment cycle. Parents described varied approaches as they considered their children’s developmental capacities, the fluidity of demands throughout deployment, and the service member’s well-being during reintegration. A common theme was the key role of home front parents in facilitating the service member–child relationship through communication and maintaining the presence of the deployed parent in the child’s everyday life. Reintegration challenges included redistribution of coparenting roles, the pacing of the service member into family roles, and concerns related to the returning parent’s distress. Study findings highlight areas of coparenting throughout the deployment cycle that can be supported though prevention and intervention efforts.
Boston University School of Social Work, ERD
Fordham University Graduate School of Social Service, AMR
Boston University School of Social Work, RS
Boston University School of Social Work, AD
Boston University School of Social Work, MA
Boston University School of Social Work, RP
University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, VJ
military families, coparenting, family processes, deployment cycle, parent/child relations
REACH Publication Type:
This research was supported by a grant provided to the investigator by the Department of Defense, Grant #W81XWH-08-1-0230.