School for Social Work
Children of military personnel, Children of the mentally ill, Post-traumatic stress disorder-Patients-Family relationships, Adult children, Father and child, Military, Military dependents, Combat trauma, PTSD, Secondary trauma
This study was undertaken to explore potential impacts occurring in adulthood stemming from individuals' childhood experiences of growing up in a household with a father who sustained combat-related trauma during the course of their military service. Numerous studies in recent years and decades have researched how military wartime or combat-related trauma can affect the lives of the soldiers who sustained the actual trauma, as well as exploring secondary traumatization and its effects on the family system upon their return home from combat. However, there has been little attention paid to the adult stage of life for individuals raised by a traumatized combatant father. Eight such individuals volunteered to take part in an interview exploring their perceptions of how they have been influenced and impacted by their unique childhoods. Four major themes were identified. The first two themes support previous research: 1) their fathers were more prone to developing avoidant and withdrawn personalities post-combat and had difficulty engaging in meaningful parent-child interactions, and 2) their fathers demonstrated a reluctance to discuss their combat experiences. The second two themes may be considered new data: 1) upon finally learning about their fathers' trauma, participants expressed forgiveness and a significant change of perspective of their childhoods relating to their father's personalities, and 2) all participants demonstrate increased intersubjectivity, place high value on the importance of communication, and show greater insight into their own thoughts and behaviors in their adult lives.
Smith, Robert N., "Adult chldren of male military combatants : impacts into adulthood" (2013). Masters Thesis, Smith College, Northampton, MA.