Young children's understandings and experiences of parental deployment within an Australian Defence Force family
Military deployment is considered a stressful period for families (Palmer, 2008), typically lasting three to nine months for Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel. To date, insufficient research has been conducted concerning children who experience deployment (Siebler, 2015). This study seeks to provide valuable insights into young children's understandings and experiences of their parents' military deployment in an Australian context. An adapted research framework, based on the policies
... on the policies from the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNICEF, 2015) and Clark and Moss (2011), has been created to listen to and privilege the often marginalised child's voice. Employing a qualitative research approach known as Mosaic research, multiple methods of data collection are combined to gather various insights into children's experiences. Embracing an interpretivist epistemology, the researcher aims to create shared knowledges of children's understandings and experiences, progressively building insights into the child's experience and inviting discussions to take place about their experiences. The study found that young children's experiences of parental deployment included stressors, responses, adaptations and protective factors. Another major finding was that children's understandings of parental deployment were often underestimated by parents. Children's understandings were strongly influenced by time, place, acculturation, narrative, digital technology, cognitive development, adult reinforcement and the use of age and culturally appropriate resources. The central goal of Mosaic research 'is not to make children's knowledge unquestionable, but to raise it to such a level that children's knowledge about their lives is central to adult discussions' (Clark & Moss, 2011, p. 65). Such knowledge about children's understandings and experiences of deployment can inform effective support strategies for parents, educators and professionals who work with these children in the ADF and wider community.