Life in Military-Connected Families: A Glimpse into Adolescent Men's and Women's Experiences during the Afghanistan Missions

Tuesday, 12 July 2016
Location: Hörsaal 41 (Main Building)
Distributed Paper
Patrizia ALBANESE, Ryerson University, Canadian Sociological Association, Canada
Military families resemble other Canadian families: their members care for one another, support each other economically, and raise children. However, military families are also different (Crum-Cianflone, 2014). While families in general experience a range of stressors, military families experience more than their share. Adolescents in military families face especially unique stressors whenever they experience a parental deployment.  The heightened risk accompanying Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) deployments over the last 15 years has also heightened the intensity of military families’ deployment-related stressors. We conducted two-hour interviews with 61 adolescents with parents in the CAF. The interviews covered a range of topics unique to military life, including geographical relocations, deployments, PTSD, family functioning, and participants’ perceptions of how their school was supporting them. This paper focuses on some of the experiences of youth growing up in military families living on or near a base that vigorously participated in the Afghanistan missions. We focus on the lives of youth while they assist often stressed and over-worked non-deployed parents (usually mothers). We present and discuss adolescents’ complex and gendered responses to the extra instrumental and emotional work that they assume during deployments.