Nearly 2.5 million service members have served on a deployment with a child at home since 2001. While deployment and reintegration (i.e., when the service member returns home) can negatively impact parenting practices, mindfulness strategies offer a new approach for coping with the stress and uncertainty associated with the deployment cycle. The objective of this paper is to further expand professionals’ understanding of how mindfulness can assist military parents. This paper explores the link between mindfulness practices and positive parenting outcomes, and uses the military reintegration period as a context for suggestions as to how professionals can incorporate mindfulness in their work with military families.
This comprehensive literature review outlines the research supporting the effectiveness of mindfulness techniques as they apply to parenting.
This literature review offered key practices of mindful parenting (i.e., listening with full attention, nonjudgmental acceptance of self and child, compassion for self and others, self-regulation in the parenting relationship, and emotional awareness of self and child). This information was then applied within the context of three challenges military parents’ encounter during reintegration: renegotiating family roles and responsibilities, reconnecting with children, and managing changes in mental health.
Military families live both on and off bases throughout the USA and internationally. It is critical that those professionals who work with these families understand the unique contexts that these families encounter and continue to incorporate new tools and resources (e.g., mindfulness) that best serve each of these families.