What We Can Learn From Military Families

Future of Children author Ann S Masten writes that the lessons we can learn from military families can potentially help many families inside and outside the military. Military families face unique challenges, but they also share many challenges in common with other Americans, such as finding adequate child care, making ends meet, and educating and disciplining children. With these similarities, military families are uniquely positioned to participate in research that will contribute to basic knowledge about stress, competence, resilience, and child development. Specifically, longitudinal research (that is, research that follows people over time) and intervention research, such as randomized controlled trials, can help us understand how to promote positive adaptation in the context of moves, loss, separation, injury, disability, and other hardships Americans might face.

Furthermore, Anita Chandra and Andrew S. London note that future studies should begin following people before, during, and after military service, and include people who have not served at all. At the very least, military status should be flagged in studies to help researchers better account for military or veteran subpopulations.

What we learn from military families will benefit non-military families, and vice versa. It will be a win-win endeavor. To learn more, see the Future of Children issue on Military Children and Families.