The researchers also found that the children of parents who reported struggling with their own emotional or mental health issues also fared worse.
"If the non-deployed parent was reporting more challenges, the kid was reporting more challenges," Chandra said.
Girls in particular reported more difficulties adjusting to the deployed parent's return home. Boys had more behavioral issues than girls, whereas older children tended to struggle more than younger children.
However, in many ways the children were resilient, Chandra said. Their levels of academic engagement, such as completing homework and maintaining their grades, and social functioning were comparable to non-military kids.
Kristin Henderson, the wife of a Navy chaplain who is serving in Afghanistan and the author of "While They're At War: The True Story of American Families on the Homefront," said that the findings fit with what she's been hearing from families and teachers.
"Teachers at schools on military bases say they could often tell who had a deployed parent by the child's behavior, and they could always tell who had a caregiver who was struggling at home," Henderson said. "Adults are good at hiding it if they have a problem at home. Kids are not."
But the study may not fully reflect the extent of the struggles, Henderson said. The average age of women surveyed was 38, older by military standards. Many were the spouses of mid-level and senior enlisted personnel. That would mean that study participants would tend to have more financial resources and life experience to help them through.
"Part of what makes deployment so challenging is that the military life is a mobile one," Henderson said. "Younger families tend to not know what resources are out there for them, and they typically don't have family to fall back on because they're in a new town. Older famili
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