Finding meaning in times of family stress: A mixed methods study of benefits and challenges amongst home-front parents in military families
Kritikos, T. K., DeVoe, E. R., Spencer, R., Langer, D. A., Nicholson, J. V., Mufti, F., & Tompson, M. C. (2020). Finding meaning in times of family stress: A mixed methods study of benefits and challenges amongst home-front parents in military families. Military Psychology, 32(4), 287-299. https://doi.org/10.1080/08995605.2020.1754122
Abstract Created by REACH:
Benefit-finding (i.e., perceiving benefits in the context of extreme stress or trauma) is related to positive outcomes in various populations (e.g., cancer patients) but has not been thoroughly examined in military families. Guided by the Family Adjustment and Adaptation Response (FAAR) framework, this study explored how military spouses who are also mothers perceive benefits amidst the challenges of military life. Twenty-six women filled out a questionnaire on benefit-finding and participated in an interview designed to gain qualitative information about the positive and negative aspects of life as a military spouse. Most participants were spouses of Service members in the National Guard (73.1%) whose last deployment had been, on average, seven years before the study. Four common themes emerged regarding the benefits of being a military family: (1) financial and career benefits, (2) cultivating personal strength, (3) friendships and a sense of community, and (4) pride.
Branch of Service:
Spouse of service member or veteran
Adulthood (18 yrs & older)
Young adulthood (18 - 29 yrs)
Thirties (30 - 39 yrs)
Middle age (40 - 64 yrs)
Kritikos, Tessa K., DeVoe, Ellen R., Spencer, Renée, Langer, David A., Nicholson, Juliann Vikse, Mufti, Fatima, Tompson, Martha C.
Family stress theory explains how demands placed on the family system interact with capabilities to influence family adaptation. One capability that some military families may use naturalistically is that of benefit-finding, the recognition of value and benefit after a stressful or traumatic experience. In this mixed methods study, authors explore the perception of benefits associated with military service amongst 26 home-front mothers. Methods incorporate a self-report questionnaire adapted for this population and a qualitative interview aimed at understanding challenges and benefits associated with these women’s experiences as members of a military family. Results revealed that more women than not endorsed meaningful changes that they have experienced as a result of their family’s military service, despite a wide range of challenges and negative experiences. Four themes of benefits emerged from analyses: (a) financial, educational and career benefits; (b) cultivating strength; (c) friendships and community; and (d) pride. These findings illuminate the diverse ways in which women find meaning in their family’s military service and upon replication and elaboration of these results, have clinical implications for the development of future prevention and intervention work with military families.
Taylor & Francis
Boston University, Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, TKK
Boston University, School of Social Work, ERD
Boston University, School of Social Work, RS
Boston University, Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, DAL
Boston University, School of Social Work, JVN
Boston University, Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, FM
Boston University, Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, MCT
benefit-finding, family stress, home-front mothers, military, qualitative research
REACH Publication Type:
The Boston University Clara Mayo Memorial Fellowship provided financial support for this study.