Communicative Experiences of Military Youth During a Parent’s Return Home from Deployment

Leanne K. Knobloch, Kimberly B. Pusateri, Aaron T. Ebata, Patricia C. McGlaughlin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The return home of a service member from tour of duty can be stressful for military families (Bowling & Sherman, 2008), but surprisingly little is known about how military youth communicatively experience a parent’s homecoming (MacDermid Wadsworth, 2010). This study draws on the emotional cycle of deployment model (Pincus, House, Christenson, & Adler, 2001) to examine the reunion period in military youth’s own words. Individual interviews were conducted with 31 military youth (age range = 10 to 13 years old). Participants identified four changes to family life (RQ1), including spending time together, experiencing emotional tranquility, returning to patterns in place before deployment, and having difficulty reintegrating the service member into everyday routines. Some military youth reported that the reunion matched their expectations (RQ2), but others noted that the reunion fell short of their expectations or that they did not expect the returning service member to be so tired or so irritable. Participants also described four issues of uncertainty (RQ3), including questions about the service member’s activities during deployment, reasons for joining and deploying, family life, and the possibility of future deployments. The article concludes by examining the theoretical and pragmatic implications of the findings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)291-309
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Family Communication
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Communication


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