A grounded theory of online coping by parents of military service members

Erin D. Basinger, Leanne K. Knobloch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Although parents of adult service members play a pivotal role in the dynamics of military family life, they tend to be overlooked in research on military families. We seek to shed light on their experiences by investigating online discourse about having a son or daughter serving in the U.S. military. We used grounded theory methods to create a model depicting the process by which parents communicated in the online forums. At the heart of the model was the central theme of parents coping with the stress of military life. Parents were troubled by losing time with their child and feeling alone because of his or her absence, which led them to feel chaotic emotions. They coped with their stress by seeking support, relating to others with similar experiences, and focusing on the positive. We consider both the theoretical implications of these findings for understanding coping and supportive communication and the practical implications for meeting the needs of military parents.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)702-721
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Social and Personal Relationships
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jun 1 2018


  • Computer-mediated communication
  • coping
  • grounded theory
  • military parents
  • social support

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Communication
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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