The relationship of parental psychological distress and negative family interaction to co-parenting within military families
Overseas deployment and subsequent reintegration of service members into the family is a difficult process for both service members as well as their spouses. Service members and spouses may experience elevated rates of psychological distress, higher rates of marital dissatisfaction, problematic interaction patterns (behavioral withdrawal, emotional unavailability, or coercion and reactivity), and difficulty with the co-parenting relationship compared to families in the general population. Six different models were tested in the present study to expand our understanding of this topic by examining the role of service member and spouse psychological distress on negative interaction patterns and co-parenting behavior, as well as investigating treatment effects in families that have completed a parent management training program. The study sample includes 184 National Guard and Reservist service members and their spouses. Baseline data were used for cross-sectional analyses and 1-year follow-up data were used for longitudinal analyses in the present study. Significant associations were found between psychological distress and negative interaction in spouses. The relationships between reported PTSD symptoms and partner negative interaction patterns was also significant. Targeting individual symptoms of psychological distress may be helpful in improving communication patterns between partners. Significant associations were also observed between treatment status and co-parenting behavior. Completion of the parent program led to an increase in positive co-parenting behavior at 1-year follow-up. Holistic services are increasingly being provided to military families, which may lead to increased positive interaction and a smoother transition during the reintegration period following deployment in military families.
Thesis (Ph.D.)-- Wichita State University, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Dept. of Psychology