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1 BOUNDARY AMBIGUITY AND THE NON DEPLOYED PARENT: A QUALITATIVE STUDY By EMILY L. DIEHL A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA 201 4
2 201 4 Emily L. Diehl
3 To my parents
4 ACKNOWLEDGMENTS This study would not have been possible without the guidance, assistance, and support of a numb er of people. First, I express gratitude to my committee chair, Dr. Silvia Eche varria Doan. Your gentle guidance and support for the ideas within these pages have been so welcomed and appreciated since the beginning of my doctoral journey. Thank you for encouraging my ownership of this research, and f or the freedom to actualize the personal growth that accompanied that ownership. Dr. Mirka Koro Ljungberg I was so grateful to know that, from the beginning, you were always ready and willing to help nudge the creative potential of the design of this study to the next level. Dr. Radunovich, thank you for your thoughtful questions and for sharing your knowledge pertaining to military families throughout the development of this research. I appreciated your o penness to encountering the methodology, and your input was meaningful to the success of this study. Dr. Daniels, through my doctoral journey contributions to this resear ch have been no exception to that trend. Thank you for offering to come aboard the committee mid way through the process. Dr s. Jason With and John Carton, it was in your undergraduate classes in Hearst Hall that I first encountered what it truly means to be passionate about the pursuit of knowledge. Both of you planted the seeds of this dream, and have nurtured its fruition with the kindest encouragement over the years. I continue to aspire to the level of in vestment and commitment you pour in to your stu dents, and I hope to one day emulate the passion for teaching you bo th embody through pictures and words, none of this would have been possible. Thank you for your h onest
5 and candid thoughts, for your warm laughter, and for allowing me the opportunity to learn so much from your experience. You are one amazing mama bear! (Soon to be Dr.) Ana, your unwavering positive energy and laughter sustained me through each of th e exhilarating and not so exhilarating milestones of our shared doctoral process. Thank you for setting an impressive work ethic that kept us pushing hard to reach for r nex t accomplishment friend! would have never been possible without having my radio always tuned to 88.7. Your depth and breadth of knowledge about music is humbling, and I thank you for keepin g my ears and my brain always piqued with your incredible playlists. Jane Bird, thank you for sharing your gifts in graphic design to create the recruitment flyer for this study. Mom and Dad, my passion for learning and the courage to accomplish this incr edible goal can only be attributed to the way I was raised by the two of you. None of this would have been possible without your support and love not only as my grandparents. You have provided so much and in so many ways, and I would not have been able both so much! Nonie so often throughout this process you selflessly gave your time and energy to support me and Noel in the most important ways. There are no words to e xpress the gratitude for all your help along the way. Thank you a million times over, and I love you. Noel, I cannot imagine how any of this would have been possible without you in my life. There were so many times when I felt like calling it quits with the whole Ph.D. thing, but you never let me give up on my dream. I know the sacrifices and compromises have been too many to count, and I am forever indebted to your patience and endless support that nourished my soul
6 we go together next. I love you. And finally, Miles, my muffin mom is finally finished! Your inquisitive and brilliant mind has inspired me each an d every day over the past seven years, and I have a feeling that this accomplishment of mine is going to pale in comparison to what you are You can do anythi ng you set your amazing mind to.
7 TABLE OF CONTENTS page ACKNOWLEDGMENTS ................................ ................................ ................................ ............... 4 LIST OF TABLES ................................ ................................ ................................ ......................... 10 LIST OF FIGURES ................................ ................................ ................................ ....................... 11 A BSTRACT ................................ ................................ ................................ ................................ ... 13 1 INTRODUCTION ................................ ................................ ................................ .................. 15 Context of the Problem ................................ ................................ ................................ ........... 15 Phenomeno n of Interest ................................ ................................ ................................ .......... 19 Problem of Significance ................................ ................................ ................................ ......... 20 Purpose ................................ ................................ ................................ ................................ ... 23 Research Questions ................................ ................................ ................................ ................. 23 Potential Significance ................................ ................................ ................................ ............. 25 Definition of Terms ................................ ................................ ................................ ................ 25 As sumptions ................................ ................................ ................................ ........................... 26 Limitations ................................ ................................ ................................ .............................. 27 Delimitations ................................ ................................ ................................ ........................... 27 Expected Findings ................................ ................................ ................................ .................. 28 2 LITERATURE REVIEW AND THEORETICAL FRAMEWORKS ................................ .... 31 Deployment related Outcomes in Children and Non deployed Parents ................................ 31 Outcomes Observed in Military Children and Youth During Deployment ..................... 33 Outcomes Observed in the Non deployed Parent During Deployment .......................... 36 The Link Between Parent and Child Well being During Deployment ................................ ... 39 The Experience of Parenting During Deployment ................................ ................................ 42 Theoretical Frameworks ................................ ................................ ................................ ......... 43 Family Systems ................................ ................................ ................................ ............... 45 The Psychological Family ................................ ................................ ............................... 47 Family Stress Theory ................................ ................................ ................................ ....... 48 Military Families and Boundary Ambiguity ................................ ................................ ........... 50 3 METHODS ................................ ................................ ................................ ............................. 54 Philosophical Assumptions and Interpretive Frameworks ................................ ..................... 56 Phenomenology ................................ ................................ ................................ ............... 58 Heidegger ................................ ................................ ................................ ........................ 59 Hermeneutics ................................ ................................ ................................ ................... 61 Design of the Study ................................ ................................ ................................ ................ 64 Design Overview ................................ ................................ ................................ ............. 64 Sample Selection ................................ ................................ ................................ ............. 64
8 Sample Size and Recruitment ................................ ................................ .......................... 66 Ethical Considerations of Photo elicitation ................................ ................................ ............ 68 Trustworthiness ................................ ................................ ................................ ....................... 70 Triangulation ................................ ................................ ................................ ................... 71 Peer Review ................................ ................................ ................................ ..................... 72 Member Validation ................................ ................................ ................................ .......... 72 Audit Trail ................................ ................................ ................................ ....................... 73 Thick Descriptions ................................ ................................ ................................ ........... 74 Hermeneutic Phases of Data Collection and Analysis ................................ ........................... 75 The Use of Photographs in Data Collection ................................ ................................ .... 77 Layered Understanding: First Phase of Data Collection and Analysis ........................... 81 First visual analysis ................................ ................................ ................................ .. 81 First photo elicitation interview ................................ ................................ ............... 87 First interpretative phenomenological analysis ................................ ........................ 92 Second Phase of Data Collection and Analysis ................................ ............................... 96 Second visual analysis ................................ ................................ .............................. 96 Second photo elicitation interview ................................ ................................ ........... 97 Second interpretative analysis ................................ ................................ .................. 99 Third Phase of Data Collection and Analysis ................................ ................................ 101 Third visual analysis ................................ ................................ ............................... 101 Third photo elicitation interview ................................ ................................ ............ 10 2 Third interpretative analysis ................................ ................................ ................... 103 ................................ ................................ .......... 105 4 RESULTS ................................ ................................ ................................ ............................. 108 Participant Profile ................................ ................................ ................................ ................. 108 Overview of Results ................................ ................................ ................................ ............. 109 ................................ ................................ ................................ ............... 110 ................................ ................................ ................. 110 ................................ ................................ ................. 113 ................................ .................. 123 ................................ ................................ ........................ 133 Overwhelmed and Reaching Out ................................ ................................ ................... 141 Through the Window ................................ ................................ ................................ ............ 148 Missing Home ................................ ................................ ................................ ............... 150 Exchanging Parenting Cues ................................ ................................ ........................... 152 Scary for Her ................................ ................................ ................................ ................. 154 Scary for Him ................................ ................................ ................................ ................ 158 ................................ ................................ ................................ ............... 164 Missed Moments ................................ ................................ ................................ ................... 166 All The Little Things ................................ ................................ ................................ ..... 167 Frozen Understandings ................................ ................................ ................................ .. 176 A Curated Existence ................................ ................................ ................................ ...... 178 5 CONCLUSIONS ................................ ................................ ................................ .................. 182
9 Findings and Interpretations ................................ ................................ ................................ 183 Recommendation s ................................ ................................ ................................ ................. 197 Suggestions for Further Research ................................ ................................ ......................... 200 Researcher Reflections ................................ ................................ ................................ ......... 204 Summary ................................ ................................ ................................ ............................... 206 APPENDIX A INFORMED CONSENT ................................ ................................ ................................ ...... 209 B RECRUITMENT ADVERTISEMENT ................................ ................................ ............... 211 C LETTER OF INVITATION (FOR SNOWBALL SAMPLING) ................................ ......... 212 D RECRUITMENT LETTER ................................ ................................ ................................ .. 214 E PARTICIPANT PACKET: WELCOME LETT ER ................................ .............................. 215 F PARTICIPANT PACKET: OVERVIEW OF THE STUDY METHODS ........................... 216 G DEMOGRAPHIC INFORMATION SHEET ................................ ................................ ....... 219 H PHOTOGRAPHY INFORMATION SHEET ................................ ................................ ...... 221 I PHOTOGRAPH INFORMATION SHEET ................................ ................................ ......... 223 J INTERVIEW GUIDE ................................ ................................ ................................ ........... 224 K INTERVIEW MEMO PROTOCOL ................................ ................................ ..................... 225 L DATA COLLECTION PROCESS ................................ ................................ ....................... 226 LIST OF REFERENCES ................................ ................................ ................................ ............. 227 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH ................................ ................................ ................................ ....... 236
10 LIST OF TABLES Table page 1 1 Definitio n of Terms ................................ ................................ ................................ ............ 29
11 LIST OF FIGURES Figure page 3 1 First Set of Pictures ................................ ................................ ................................ ............ 85 3 2 First P hase of Analysis ................................ ................................ ................................ ....... 95 3 3 Second Set of Photographs ................................ ................................ ................................ 97 3 4 Combined First and Second Photograph Sets ................................ ................................ .. 100 3 5 Third Set of Photographs ................................ ................................ ................................ 102 3 6 Third Grouping of Photographs ................................ ................................ ....................... 104 3 7 Final Grouping of Photographs ................................ ................................ ........................ 107 4 1 ................................ ................................ ................................ ........... 116 4.2 ................................ ................................ ................................ .................. 118 4 3 ................................ ................................ ................................ ................. 122 4 4 Clean baby bottles drying on the counter. ................................ ................................ ....... 125 4 5 The broken picture. ................................ ................................ ................................ .......... 128 4 6 ................................ ................................ ................................ ................. 131 4 7 ................................ ................................ ................................ ....................... 133 4 8 ................................ ................................ ................................ .......... 135 4 9 ................................ ................................ ................................ ............ 140 4 10 ................................ ................................ ................................ .............. 142 4 11 ................................ ................................ ................................ ...... 157 4 12 ................................ ................................ ................................ ...................... 159 4 13 ................................ ................................ ................................ 163 4 14 ................................ ................................ ................................ ................ 164 4 15 ................................ ................................ ................................ .................... 168 4 16 ................................ ................................ ................................ .............. 169
12 4 17 ................................ ................................ ................................ ...................... 170 4 18 ................................ ................................ .............. 172 4 19 ................................ ................................ ................................ ..... 175 4 20 ................................ ................................ ................................ ....................... 177 4 21 ................................ ................................ 180
13 Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduat e School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy BOUNDARY AMBIGUITY AND THE NON DEPLOYED PARENT: A QUALITATIVE STUDY By Emily L. Diehl May 2014 Chair: Silvia Echeva rria Doan Major: Marriage and Family Counseling Previous studies indicate that family separation s due to deployment lead to changes in the functioning of children and spouses, as well as the family system, of military personnel. The stresses and outcomes reported in the literature investigating family functioning during deployment can be theoretically connected through the notions of the family as a system, the family system as physically and psychologically constituted through the perceptions of family m embers, and family stress models. Specific to families that experience such separation, Pauline Boss (1980) has investigated the construct of boundary ambiguity, a phenomenon believed to explain the role reorganization that occurs in the absence of a famil y member. Yet, research has minimally explored how boundary ambiguity is experienced or how the parenting role becomes reorganized during deployment from the perspective of the non deployed parent, despite the apparent link between parent role stresses an d child outcomes evident in the literature. The purpose of this qualitative study was to query the phenomenon of boundary ambiguity as it related to the parenting role specifically as resulting role reorganization was experienced and understood by a non d eployed parent within the context of the military family system during deployment. The study was guided by a hermeneutic phenomenological approach and employed photo elicit ation as the method through which the lived experiences of a parent
14 during deployme nt were explored Participant photographs and interviews were iteratively analyzed through a combination of visual analysis and interpretative phenomenological analysis. The findings from this research advance understanding of how boundary ambiguity is e xperienced by the non deployed parent within the context of the military family system during deployment. The findings offer insights into how the parenting role becomes reorganized in various and complex ways as boundary ambiguity is encountered over the course of a deployment. These findings prompt a re thinking of the role stresses and outcomes of family members that occur when families experience separation during a deployment. Implications for policy and family therapy are discussed, and recommendat ions for future research are offered.
15 C HAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION T he purpose of this study is to query the phenomenon of boundary ambiguity as it relates to parenting, specifically as resulting role reorganization is experienced and understood by the non de ployed parent within the context of the military family system during deployment. Through these processes, understanding of the phenomen on of boundary ambiguity will be enlarged. Theoretically, the constructs of the psychological family, boundary ambigui ty, and role reorganization provide an integrative framework for understanding the experiences of the non deployed parent during deployment. These three constructs are linked theoretically by perception, which serves as a pathway to understanding and mean ing making. Given that perception is understood to be s u bjective function, the study is qualitative in design. The purpose of this chapter is to establish both a foundation f or and an overview of the study. This chapter will examine the context of the pr oblem, identify the phenomenon of interest and the problem of significance, and describe the purpose and research questions. This chapter also provides an overview of the assumptions, limitations, delimitations, definitions of terms, and the e xpected find ings of the study. Context of the Problem The events of September 11, 2001 marked a significant shift in the trajectory of the United States as a nation. It changed the way we relate to the rest of the world socially and economically, but also in terms of how national security is maintained in a post 9/11 world. Warfare in this post has in turn been reflected in changed perceptions of the nature of threats coming from the external envir
16 warfare as signals of some momentous, radical shift. As often as not, the character o f warfare in a period is shaped, even driven, much more by the political, social, and strategic contexts than it to be a potent combination of such contexts, and the subsequent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have proceeded as open ended conflicts. For those who deploy, these fundamental changes to the temporal expectancies of warfare have coincided with demographic shifts in the military. Whereas past wars relied upon a military personnel that was comprised mainly of young, unmarried men (Schneider & Martin, 2000), changes in military policy and t he demands of modern conflicts have resulted in a military that now contains over 50% married men and women. ( Kohen, 19 84; Rotter & Boveja, 1999; Sheppard, Malatras, & Israel, 2010; Department of Defense [Dod], 2010). Many military dependents are children, and recent demographics indicate that this trend is increasing (DoD, 2010). Over a third of active duty, reserve, an d guard military personnel are now married with children, according to a recent military demographics report (DoD, 2010). The largest group of children among those families is also the youngest, ranging from 0 5 years old (DoD, 2010). Segal (2011) noted that, compared to their civilian counterparts, service members are more likely to be married, more likely to be married at a young age, and more likely to have young children at home. There have been over 2 million individual service members deploying to A fghanistan or Iraq, and of those numbers over 800,000 have been parents. In addition, many military parents have deployed multiple times with the U.S. military since 2001 (Chandra, Martin, Hawkins, & Richardson, 2010), affecting large numbers of children a nd non deployed parents (Sheppard et al., 2010). Moreover, the trajectories of the wars in Iraq and Afghani stan have ushered in an era
17 of military duty that is marked by longer deployments, extended tours, and repeated tours which have more frequently sep arated spouses and children from their active duty military family member than ever observed in modern history. (Chandra, Lara Cinisomo, Jaycox, Tanielian, Burns, Ruder, & Han, 2009; Morris & Age, 2009). At least two million U.S. children and their famili es have experienced at least one deployment related separation since the beginning of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars (Manos, 2010; McFarlane, 2009). Visibility of the se open ended wars has receded to the periphery of media attention (New York Times, 2008) and consequently so too have the families of soldiers who deploy. There has long been a sense that a growing gap exists between civilians and the military ( Davis, Ward, & Storm, 2011 ilitary Civilian Gap: War and Sacrifice in the Post Only about one half of one percent of the U.S. population has been on active military duty at any given time during the past decade of sustained warfare. Some 84% of post 9/11 veterans say the public does not understand the problems faced by those in the military or their families. The public agrees, though by a less lopsided majority 71% (p. 2). Moreover, although there appears to be a sense of support for those who serve in the milita ry, there seems to be scarce public acknowledgment about what military service entails. As noted in the PEW report, The public makes a sharp distinction in its view of military service members and the wars they have been fighting. More than nine in ten ex press pride in the troops and three quarters say they thanked someone in the military. But a 45% plurality say neither of the post 9/11 wars has been worth the cost and only a quarter say they are following news of the wars closely. And half of the public say the wars have made little difference in their lives (p. 2). This military civilian gap is amplified perhaps even more in the context of service provision to military families. Among civilians, there is a long standing discourse that the
18 sequestration cuts in 2013 threaten ed to eliminate funding for an already scarce number of programs aimed at supporting military families during deployment (Garamone, 2012 ). As discussed in detail in the review of the literature (C hapter 2) repeated and longer deployments have placed increased stress on family members and have resulted in negative behavioral and mental health outcomes. Famil y members who seek assistance a s they cope with the stresses and outcomes induced by deployment have increasingly been outsourced to communities as funding for services is cut, yet for insurance reasons many military families have been turned away at the door of community agencies (Buck holtz, 2009). This is particularly concerning, given that defense spending cuts have eliminated the majority of on base housing availability for families of military personnel, which once provided ease of access to services such as therapy. Fortunately, a growing number of civilian military partnerships are emerging amidst this modern context of defense funding cuts (Buc kholtz, 2009), which are discussed in greater detail in C hapter 2 Family clinicians who will assist families in the midst of a deploym ent will benefit from increased clinical knowledge about not only the deployment related stressors and outcomes specific to the family system in the context of modern deployment trends, but the lived experiences of individual family members as well. Speci fically, a focus on the parenting experiences of the non deployed parent is lacking in the literature. By unde r standing the way in which parenting is experienced by individuals who fulfill parenting responsibilities during deployment, clinicians can offer more targeted services as well as implement preventative programs for this population There is a substantial body of literature that addresses the deployment related stresses and outcomes for children and spouses of military personnel. Although a link h as been established
19 between child and parent outcomes, scarce literature reports on the experiences of the non deployed parent. What has preceded the present proposed study is a collection of literature that has typified the stresses and outcomes of deplo yment on the military family as overwhelmingly negative. This can in turn affect policy and clinical service provision, leading to a skewed focus which pathologizes the complex lived experiences of military family members. This study proposes a different way of viewing the experiences of the non deployed parent: as ways of being in the world (Heidegger, 2010) within the particular context of deployment. This non pathologizing stance is adopted from an existential clinical approach called Daseinanalysis, as conceived by Menard Boss (1979), a Swiss psychiatrist heavily influenced by the philosopher Martin Heidegger. Although Daseinanalysis exists as a clinical approach (though somewhat peripheral to more common approaches), no known study in the clinical l iterature has queried the experiences of the non deployed parent through a Heideggerian lens. Phenomenon of I nterest It is evident from the literature that family separation due to deployment leads to changes in the functioning of children and spouses, as well as the family system, of military personnel. The stresses and outcomes reported in the literature that has investigated family functioning during deployment can be theoretically connected through the notions of the family as a system, the family syst em as physically and psychologically constituted through the perceptions of family members, and family stress models. Specific to families that experience separation, Pauline Boss (1980) has investigated the construct of boundary ambiguity a phenomenon be lieved to explain the role reorganization that occurs in the absence of a family member. Yet, no known literature has explored how boundary ambiguity is experienced or how the parenting role is affected from the perspective of non deployed parents, despit e the apparent link between
20 parent role stresses and child outcomes. This study will therefore query the phenomenon of boundary ambiguity through the perceptions of the non deployed parent. Problem of S ignificance Few studies exist which fully attend to an d reveal the lived experience of non deployed parents during deployment. Understanding how boundary ambiguity and role reorganization is experienced by the non deployed parent will contribute to a greater understanding of the military family during deploy ment. This knowledge can assist clinicians in providing targeted services to parents during deployment, which in turn will enhance the overall functioning of the military family system during deployment. The majority of studies on military families during deployment have focused on cataloguing stresses and the resultant physical and behavioral outcomes of family members left behind. The outcomes of these studies have led to important changes in clinical, policy, and outreach initiatives. However, the sub jective experience of family members is curiously absent from the literature. Perception, a construct which accounts for subjective experience, is centrally featured in family stress models, and plays an important role in manifesting boundary ambiguity in families experiencing the potentially stressful separation of deployment. Thus, the need to advance our understanding of the perceptions of specific family members becomes evident. Research beginning at this entry point is a step toward deepening theory development as concerns ambiguous loss. It is apparent from the literature that studies focused on individuals within the context of the military family have been biased toward explaining child outcomes, and this may be due as much to researcher interest as it is to contemp orary legislation or policy. There is much less understood about the lived experiences of the non deployed parent, whose perceptions about deployment induced separation of family members have important implications for the reorganizati on of family roles. By being offered a glimpse into the lived
21 experience of deployment from the perspective of the non deployed pa rent, understand ing about the effects of deployment on the functioning and adaptation of military families may be deepened G iven that the wars of the past decade have placed a toll on military families in ways previously unseen, an updated research agenda is called for. A growing number of families continue to be impacted by longer and more frequent deployments, yet the role r eorganization experienced by the non deployed parent has yet to be sufficiently explored. In addition to the stressors and negative outcomes reported in the literature, a topic of growing concern has recently been the alarming rate of child abuse and malt reatment that appears be on the rise in military families during deployment, attributed to increased strain placed on the non deployed parent (Schaeffer, Alexander, Bethke, & Kretz, 2005; Sheppard et al., 2010). It is thus critical to the well being of mi litary families to further explore the role of parenting as it is experienced by the non deployed parent during deployment. Marriage and family researchers are more than sufficiently prepared to proceed on this recommendation, due to the depth of academic preparation and clinical experience with families that characterizes the profession. Throughout graduate training and clinical experience marriage and family researchers are familiarized with the works of a diverse array of family theorists, many of who m were also practitioners. In addition to a solid foundation in theory, graduate training in marriage and family therapy also offers intensive exposure t o the processes of family life provided through clinical experiences. Frequently, graduate training i s a supplement to years of direct clinical work many doctoral level students and newly appointed faculty return to academia after practicing in the field.
22 It is thus apparent that marriage and family researchers possess unique qualifications which equip th em to conduct sensitive research with families experiencing deployment. The choice of research methodology is also an important consideration for family researchers who wish to investigate the perceptions surrounding deployment. Although the majority of the literature pertaining to the experiences of military families during deployment report findings from quantitative studies, Pauline Boss (1980, 2002) has advocated for the use of qualitative methodologies to study family life, and has noted that such me thodologies are an appropriate match for understanding family member perceptions and the lived experie nce of boundary ambiguity. Qualitative methodologies are suited for this task for several reasons. The emphasis on the unique and particular contours of a phenomenon are hallmarks of qualitative studies and thus This is achieved through a wide array of theoretical orientations which inform an even greater collecti on of methods (Crotty, 1998). Epistemologically, subjectivist and interpretivist orientations that inform the traditions of symbolic interactionism and phenomenological research are especially relevant to the study of perceptions about events (van Manen, 1990; Crotty, 1998; Denzin & Lincoln, 1998). In these traditions, the lived experiences of individuals and his or her unique perceptions about events are the methodological focus, and thus data collection is conducted through methods that provide in depth glimpses into the lifeworld of the individual (van Manen, 1990). Su ch data collection methods may include structured or unstructured interviewing, journaling, and even the use of photography (Stanczack, 2007). Without this important research, family the rapists, policy makers, and government programs will continue to provide services to military families and in particular, non deployed
23 parents that may not be specific to the lived experiences of those families, increasing the likelihood of negative mental health outcomes, for both parents and children, as well as negative impacts on communities and society. It has been noted that there is a growing gap between civilian and military communities (Buckholtz, 2009), and continued research by family researcher s may ensure that this gap does not widen. Purpose T he purpose of this study is to expand what is known about the phenomenon of boundary ambiguity within the context of the military family system during deployment, specifically as resulting role reorgani zation is experienced and understood by the non deployed parent. Recognizing the complexity inherent in querying how these parents understand t he parenting role, data collection, analytical, and interpretive protocols an d strategies will be integrated to address the numerous aspects of non deployed paren photographic representation s of parenting experiences, pe rceptions of key events in the lives as a parent during deployment, and ways in which contextua l factors affect the ex perien ce and understanding the parenting role during deployment. This study is theoretically situated in family systems (Bateson, 1967; Minuchin, 1974), family stress (Hill, 1949; Burr, 1973; McCubbin, 1979; McCubbin & Patterson, 1980), and ambiguous loss (Boss, 1980; Boss, 1983; Boss, 2004) frameworks and utilize s a hermeneutic phenomenological methodology (Heidegger, 2010; van Manen, 1990) to negotiate an understan ding of how the non deployed parent experience s and understand s th e parenting role during de ployme nt. Research Questions Creswell (2006): recommended that the research questions in a phenomenological study meaning typically forged in discussion or interactions w ith other persons. The more open ended
24 the questioning, the better, as the researcher listens carefully to what people say or do in their life 1990) for understand ing the experiences of the non deployed parent are thus posed tentatively, with an openness to the possibility of revisiting them as the phenomenon is explored. In this multiple ways that a phenomenon may be uncovered and, possibly, shift the direction of the questions being asked. C reswell (2007) further specified that phenomenological research questions should include a single, overarching question and several subquest ions. Broadly then, the central guiding question of this study was, w hat is the nature of the lived experience of parenting during deployment, from the perspective of the non deployed parent? This is the eswell, 2007) about the research problem, which concerns the need for a deeper understanding of parenting during deployment. issues on the topic being explored or use terms 113). The specific issues of parenting during deployment, which aim to address the purpose of this study, concern the phenomenon of boundary ambiguity and how the non deployed parent understands and describes h er exploring the lived experience of parenting during deployment. These subquestions also serve to deli mit the parameters of analysis that will be used to represent the data, but are not intended to constrain the lived experience of the non deployed parent. Moreover, these questions are posed as possible approaches to the multiple expressions of the phenom enon (van Manen, 1990). Thus, for the purposes of addressing the specific topics within the broader realm of parenting during
25 deployment, h ow does the no n deployed parent describe her parenting experiences during deployment? How does the non deployed pare nt experience and understand boundary ambiguity as it relates to the parenting role during deployment? Potential Significance This study endeavors to understand how the phenomenon of boundary ambiguity is experienced during deployment, as lived by the non deployed parent within the context of parenting during deployment I acknowledge the critical contention that phenomenological 90, p. 45). Aligned with Heidegger, I submit that the concern should instead shift to whether phenomenology can do something with us (van Manen, 1990). This inquiry thus aims to interpret the phenomenon of boundary ambiguity from ctive as she understand s it, but also to enlarge and deepen public sensitivity to the complexities of military family life. The experiences of the non deployed parent may help key stakeholders in policy and clinical practice identify essential concerns an d assist in the development of effective military family policies and supportive therapeutic programs. Insights from findings may also enhance clinical competency among practitioners who may encounter military families in mental health settings. This stu dy may also be significant in improving the lives of non deployed parents and their families who experience the unique lived experiences within the context of deployment. Definition of Terms The present study design is informed by the hermeneutic phenomeno logy of Heidegger phenomenological analytic methods of Smith, Flowers, and Larkin (2009). The research is theoretically situated in family systems (Bateson, 1967; Min uchin, 1974), family stress (Hill,
26 1949; Burr, 1973; McCubbin, 1979; McCubbin & Patterson, 1980), and ambiguous loss (Boss, 1980; Boss, 1983; Boss, 2004) theoretical frameworks. A table of k ey terms used throughout this study is offered below. Assumptions Packer (2011) advised limits beyond which we do not see, but they are not fixed and we are constantly testing them. One important way in which we test our preconceptions is through encount ers with other people, the empirical phenomenology of Husserl, I approach my own subjectivities through the hermeneutic phenomenological trad ition of Heidegger. I open my own experiences, and thus my beliefs and values, to the reader in an effort to reveal the place from which I write. The way I understand the world plays an i shared with me in the context of research. Heidegger challenges the researcher to work out these fore structures in terms of the things themselves. The philosophical assumptions I bring to this study include an ontological approach to understanding reality, which permits multiple subjective realities for participants (Lincoln & Guba, 1988). To say this another way, as the researcher, I am sensitive to the fact that the nature of my particip subjectivities involve making meaning of experiences, which give rise to how one understands phenomena of the lived world. I a multiple subjective realities are co mplex as a function of being contextually situated. The context of spe cific interest for this study is the family system during deployment. Following from that assumption, I also assume that families function systemically, wherein what impacts one member also impacts others. I
27 al so assume that a family is constituted by those members who are not only physically present, but psychologically as well. The theoretical foundations for these assumptions related to the family will be further explicated in C hap ter 2. Limitations What is uncovered through hermeneutical phenomenological research is not obtained by interviewing large numbers of people in order to make generalizations. Instead, the quality of such research is demonstrated by engaging in reflection on data, including accounts from a small number of people and in ongoing writing and re writing to fully describe shared human experiences (van Manen, 1990). Phenomenology approaches phenomena as possible human experience, and the resulting descriptions a re said to have a universal, intersubjective character (van Manen, 1990). This should not be misunderstood as a claim to relativity, however. van Manen (1990) explains, From a phenomenological point of view we are not primarily interested in the subject ive experiences of our so called subjects or informants, for the sake of being able to report on ature of this phenomenon as an essentially human experience (p. 62). g Smith, 1993). Delimitations In an hermeneutic phenomenological study, wherein the lived nature of a phenomenon is revealed through multiple subjectivities (Packer, 2011), the interpretive activities of analysis could unfold without end. There is legitim ate concern that engagement with the hermeneutic circle may lead analysis into infinite regress. Thus, it is important to specify from the onset the parameters of the study in an effort to identify a horizon for t he phenomenon being queried. For the pur poses of this study, o nce the research questions have been sufficiently addressed and a
28 deeper level of understanding of the phenomenon has been reached, the circuitous journey of this hermeneutic study will come to a close. Expected Findings The purpose of hermeneutic research is to understand the perspectives of humans (Willis, 2007 ). Therefore, as my informant share s her photographs and stories, I expect to move through ever deepening layers of understanding about the nature of the lived experience of parenting d uring deployment. The p experiences, as well as my pre understandings and the reported findings of the extant literature, will be combined to offer emergent glimpses of the phenomenon of boundary ambiguity, and cont ribute to understanding
29 Table 1 1. Definition of Terms Term Definition Being (Sein) ontological analytic; does not describe an is alw Sein des being (Seiende) Refers to an entity Being in the world A Heideggerian phrase that refers to the way human beings exist, act, or are involved in the world (van Manen, 1990). Bound ary ambiguity Construct developed by Boss (1980/2003) to is physically and psychologically present or absent in the family system. If a family member is perceived as psychologically present but is, in reality, phy sically absent for a long time, the family boundary is ambiguous and cannot be maintained; operationalization is based on whether or not roles are still being assigned to the absent person and whether or not the absent member is still perceived as present. Deployment Refers to activities required to move military personnel and materials from a home installation to a specified destination (military.com) Dasein ( A Heideggerian term which refers to that entity or aspect of our humanness which is capable of wondering about its own existence and inquiring into its own Being (van Manen, 1990, citing Heidegger, 1962). Hermeneutics The theory and practice of interpretation (Packer, 2011). Hermeneutic circle For Heidegger, the circular relationship between understanding (the tacit, prereflective comprehension) and articulation of understanding) in which interpretation leads to modified understanding (Packer, 2011).
30 Table 1 1. Continued Hermeneutic phenomenology Attentive to both terms of its methodology: descriptive (phenomenological) in wanting to be attentive to how things appear and speak for themselves, while interpretive (hermeneutic) in the claim that there are no such things as uninterpreted phenomena (va n Manen, 1990). Non deployed parent Spouse or partner of active duty, deployed military personnel. Perception The use of previous knowledge to gather and interpret the stimuli registered by the senses, thereby combining aspects of both the inner and oute r world (Maitlin, 2005); leads to a subjective definition of the meaning of an event (McCubbin & Patterson, 1989). Phenomenon That which shows itself as being and the structure of being (Heidegger, 2010). Phenomenology For Heidegger, a study of the modes of Manen, 1990). Psychological family Individual and family life span perceptions of who is inside or outside the family system, which are significantly related to the interaction within that system and between th at system and the outside world (Boss, 1980/2003)
31 CHAPTER 2 LITERATURE REVIEW AND THEORETICAL FRAMEWORKS Using family systems, family stress, and ambigu ous loss theories as the lens through which the phenomenon of interest will be approached this chap ter investigates the experiences of military families during deployment. Military family research traditionally has sought to thoroughly describe and explain the stresses and outcomes of deployment on children and spouses, mainly through survey based, qua ntitative studies. More recently, family researchers have linked child and parent mental health outcomes, reinforcing the notion of the family as an interactional system. In addition, qualitative methodologies are increasingly being implemented as invest igational pathways to deepen what is known about the specific impacts of deployment on the family system. Boundary ambiguity is offered as a theoretical construct that explains the process by which family roles are reorganized during member separation, bu t research has yet to adequately investigate the role reorganizations that occur during military deployment, particularly as they are experience d by the non deployed parent. The purpose of this chapter is to examine the research literature pertaining to t he military family during deployment, and to explore how the construct of boundary ambiguity may be further applied to advance what is theorized about the role reorganizations that occur within the military family during deployment. Deployment related Outc omes in Children and Non deployed Parents President Barack Obama recently renewed a governmental commitment to understand and provide support for military families in the United States. The document, titled Defense, 2011), is a continuation of policy efforts set in motion to address the issues faced by military families. Preceding the President's recent call to enhance support efforts is a body of literature that encompasse s much of what we have come to understand about the issues faced by
32 military families. The purpose of this review is to explicate themes in the literature that have been influential in shaping conceptualizations of the military family during deployment, a nd to explore how these themes can be explained by the integrated theoretical frameworks of family systems, family stress, and boundary ambiguity. The initial literature search was conducted to systematically understand what is known about the experiences of military families during deployment, and to explore the methods used to study those experiences. The scope of the initial literature search was limited to peer reviewed academic articles and texts examining data from the era following World War II unti l the most recent Operation Enduring Freedom/Operation Iraqi Freedom (OEF/OIF) conflicts, published between 1949 and 2011. The search was carried out through searches in databases such as EBSCO, JSTOR, ProQuest, and other academic online databases, using combinations of the expanded to literature with a high level of topical rele vancy from previous conflicts and to governmental reports and book chapters. The initial questions I explored were: What is known about the experiences of military families during deployment? What are the outcomes for individual family members? In what ways are family roles impacted during deployment? How are family member outcomes rela ted to family role changes? In relation to the inductive nature of the initial search of the literature, subsequent questions were asked including: What are the methodo logical limitations inherent in the literature? How do these limitations delimit the scope of what is understood about military families during deployment?
33 The review yielded several topical themes, which are employed in the subsections below to organize a framework for understanding how the military family has been investigated over the past century. The following subsections include (a) child outcomes, (b) spouse outcomes, and (c) the link between parent child well being. This sequencing of subsection s establis hes a clear understanding of what is known about the impacts of deployment on family members, and serves as a preface to the discussion about the role of the non deployed parent. Outcomes Observed in M ilit ary Children and Youth During D eployment Approximately 1.2 million children live in U.S. military families (Finkel, Kelly, & Ashby, 2003). Studies of military families separated by the deployment of a family member have focused mainly on the children and youth of these families, whom are argued to be the most vulnerable members (Chandra et al., 2009). McFarlane (2009) contended that the deployment of a parent to a combat zone may be one of the most stressful experiences a child faces. Specific stressors related to a parental deployment that chil dren may encounter include having to contend with realistic fears about their parent's welfare (McFarlane, 2009). McFarlane (2009) also adolescent children during The impact of deployment related stressors on children is a well researched topic. The New York Times (2010, November 8) summarized recent findings from a Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences study that analyzed the records of 642,397 children ages 3 to 8 with parents in the military to examine whether visits to the doctor for mental difficulties increased when a parent was deployed. T visit rate...r These findings are supported by other sources in the literature (Davis, 2010). Additi onal
34 findings related to parental deployment and youth outcomes include depression, acting out or negative behavioral adjustment, poor academic performance, and increased irritability and impulsiveness; tearfulness, increased discipline problems at home, a nd increased demands for attention (Grass, 2007). In a qualitative study by Grass (2007), focus groups were implemented to explore adjustment among youth aged 12 18 that had a parent deployed, most often to a war zone. The author reported that youth expe rienced changes in mental health, with few youth using positive terms to describe their feelings surrounding the experience of deployment. In 2007, p. 3). Length of parent deployment has also been linked to an increase in behavior problems observed in children (Barker & Berry, 2009). In addition to the broad range of outcomes pertaining to child mental health reported in the literature, specif ic contextual factors (i.e, gender, age) have also accounted for the variability in findings related to the impacts of deployment on children. Chandra et al. (2010), for instance, explored the differences in behavior expression and coping strategies repor ted by a sample of male and female military youth and their non deployed parents. The study findings suggested that gender played a role in the way in which behavioral problems became manifested during deployment, due in part to the differing coping strat egies employed by youth (Chandra et al., 2010). Jensen et al. (1996) explored child age as a specific contextual factor related to deployment, and reported that younger children appear to respond to parental deployment dif ferently than older children. Fur ther evidence that young children who experience a parental deployment are likely to show behavioral symptoms was demonstrated by a Chartrand et al (2008) study, in which a cohort of young children with a deployed parent was compared to a
35 cohort without a deployed parent, in order to determine whether behavioral symptom expression differed between the groups. Findings indicated that, as predicted, less frequent symptom expression was observed in the latter group (Chartrand et al., 2008). In earlier liter ature pertaining to child outcomes, there appears to have been initial disagreement about whether outcomes observed in military children and youth with a deployed parent differed from comparable cohorts within society. This currently appears to be less co ntested, perhaps due in part to the prevalence of more rigorous studies that have reported negative mental health outcomes in children of deployed parents. Morris and Age (2009), for example, examined the coping and emotional symptoms of children and youth in military families during the deployment of a parent, and found that in contrast to the Jensen et al. (1995) study, milita ry children and adolescents experienced higher levels of conduct problems and suffering from more overall symptomatology than compa rative community norms. A study by Barker and Berry (2009), which also used a comparison group of young children with a non deployed parent, further confirmed previous reports of increased behavior problems during deployment. In response to a growing body of evidence that has linked deployment with negative outcomes in children, a number of resources and programs have been developed to assist children and adolescents with the difficult process of parental deployment. Resources include books, kits that incl ude journals and stickers, and websites. In addition to items specific to children, a number of books are available to assist parents in explaining the deployment process to children. (see: www.myarmyonesourc e.com ). Additionally, the Boys & Girls Club Military Partnership: Mi ssion Youth Outreach (bgca.org) has partnered with the military for 20 years to offer services to children of military families
36 Outcomes O bserv ed in the Non deployed Parent During D eplo yment Interestingly much of what we know about the well being of the non deployed parent has emerged as a result of increased attention to child symptomatology within recent years. Rather than a corpus of direct studies focu sed on parent functioning, res earch literature is limited to the presentation of such functioning as secondary or subsidiary findings that emerged from studies focused either children or deployed service members. Spera (2009), for example, gained information about spouses' ability to c ope with deployment -not based on information gathered from actual spouses of military personnel, but rather from a database that elicited active duty Air Force personnel perceptions of their spouses' coping. Still, the findings reinforced the sparse body of literature that has investigated the experience of the military spouse, particularly those with children: that the impacts of deployment have important implications for the adjustment to military life. The few studies that have more directly addressed the experiences of the non deployed parent portray a similar narrative, notably one that is dominated by stress. Areas of stress during deployment that have been identified among non deployed parent s include issues related to child care relationship main tenance, boundary negotiation, and media coverage of military events (Drummet, Coleman, & Cable, 2003; Warner, et al., 2009). A Chandra et al. (2009) study proposed to explore the functioning of military children in schools, yet through focus group interv of findings from the literature related to child stress during deployment, n oted that 50% of spouses in one study reported depression as well as significant anxiety symptoms during soliders' deployments.
37 Similar findings were reflected in a study conducted by the U.S. Army Medical Research Unit, which investigated the nature of fa mily stress during a peacekeeping deployment (Adler, Bartone, & Valtkus, 1994). Responses to a survey from sixty six non deployed parents indicated that families were experiencing a loss of social, emotional, and parenting support. Furthermore, spousal s tress was compounded by concerns about the safety of the deployed spouse, as well as uncertainty about the future of the deployed soldier's unit (Adler et al., 1994). Adler et al. (1994) added that stress resulting from the loss of emotional, social, and parenting support contributed to an increase in psychological symptoms among non deployed parents such as feeling lonely, isolated, and overwhelmed with parenting responsibilities. Concomitant with the psychological outcomes, the authors found an increas e in distress symptoms such as sleeping problems, appetite loss, and impatience (Adler et al., 1994). Stress among non deployed parents has also been attributed to communication processes during deployment. In their therapeutic work with 12 military famili es, specifically the non deployed parent and children of men deployed in service, Briggs and Atkinson (2006) state that the overarching emotional tone of the non deployed parent was one of anxiety and stress, particularly if the military family member's po sition resulted in limited communication regarding his whereabouts. Regular communication between non deployed parents and their partners during deployment does not always ease the stress of separation. Rather, it appears that non deployed parents enga with a deployed spouse, which is believed to assist the deployed spouse avoid any additional stresses and to focus on the nature of the combat mission (Joseph & Afifi, 2010). Unfortuna tely, this blocking of the non deployed parents' desire to disclose emotional difficulties related to life
38 at home rendered the experience even more stressful, and was associated with negative health symptoms (Joseph & Afifi, 2010). Given that recent wars have demanded multiple deployments, a question is raised whether number of deployments is related to increased stress for the non deployed parent. Burrell, Adams, Durand, and Castro (2006) suggested from their findings that rather than the number of deplo yments non deployed parents experienced, it was instead the perception of those deployments that impacted functioning. This study corroborated previous evidence about the role of perception, and is congruent with Hill's (1949) and Boss's (1980; 1983; 2004) assertions that perception plays an important role in family stress theory. A limitation of this study, however, concerns the sample of spouses and number of deployments already experienced. The average number of separations at the time of the study was 3.5, and the authors accounted for this by mentioning that these spouses may have adjusted to separations and if it had been the first deployment, the findings may have been different (Burrell et al., 2006). The authors also discussed the lack of signifi cance between fear for their soldiers' well being and spouse psychological well being, and suggested that these findings were attributed to the fact that spouses believed their soldiers were trained to handle the dangers. An additional limitation of these nature of the deployment and the confidence in training. It was not unti l the 1980s that Family Support Groups (FSGs) were introduced to assist non deployed parents with adjustment and coping during deployment (Schneider & Martin, communication between the unit and wives and to encourage development of social supports to
39 21). In addition to support groups, childcare resources found online, such as Ca re.com and Sittercity.com, have collaborated with the DoD to provide special access to military families. The Link Between Parent and Child Well being During Deployment Congruent with the theoretical frameworks of family systems theory, family stress theor y, and ambiguous loss theory, studies that have examined the relationship between non deployed parent well being and child outcomes have demonstrated that adjustment of the child is linked to the mental health of the non deployed parent in military familie s experiencing deployment (Chandra et al, 2010; Lester et al., 2010; Barker & Berry, 2009). Additionally, child's symptoms, the parents' functioning, and cumulative de parents and better overall family adjustment are associated with the psychosocial well being of military children. Moreover, maternal well being and stress and marital satisfaction help explain were mo re directly related to the effect of maternal psychopathology or other family stressors as own distress are often confused and uncertain about how to respond s 127). Related to the age specific behavior responses to separation, the authors also note that ge children between the ages of 9 and 12, anger may be manifested toward the parent who left, and toward close family members left behind (Murray & Kuntz, 2002).
40 Al Turkait and Ohaeri (2008) recently reported findings about the severity of anxiety, depress ion, deviant behavior and poor family adjustment observed among children of Kuwaiti military men who were involved in the first Gulf War. The authors reported that the mother's anxiety, depression, and social status were significantly associated with all the child outcome instruments to measure outcomes in both chi ldren and mothers. In order to explore how children from military families whose parent is deployed manage across social, emotional, and academic domains, Chandra et al. (2010) conducted phone interviews with military children (ages 11 17) and their non d eployed parent. The authors found that the sample of children in this study had more emotional difficulties compared with national deployed caregiver mental health were sig nificantly associated with a greater number of challenges for (MHI 5); however, no specific symptoms reported by the non deployed caregiver were mentioned in the repo rt. In a previous study that examined the perceptions of difficulties faced by military families from the perspective of school personnel, Chandra et al. (2009) conducted focus groups to understand more about these circumstances. The authors reported tha perceived mental health issues of their non deployed parent contributed to difficulties in In spite of the growing body of literature that links child and parent outcomes, a study by Briggs and Atkinson (2006) sugg ested that the military culture reinforces the outdated notion that child outcomes are not linked to the well being of the parent. Briggs and Atkinson (2006)
41 described the ways in which military culture fails to acknowledge the impact of deployment as affe cting the family system. In speaking to Army welfare officers during their work with opinion that behavior is explained in terms of the child's own difficulties, not contextualized by family life. These difficulties were invariably seen as arising from various inabilities in the authors' clinic based on the presumption tha t the problem was the child's, and not linked to any aspect of family life. Conceptualization of the family as an interactional system, however, has led marriage and family clinicians to develop resources that involve participation from both non deployed p arents and their children. Chawla and Solinas Saunders (2012), for example, provide a rationale for the use of filial therapy as a parent child intervention to be implemented during deployment. Based on a review of the literature related to deployment an d its impacts on the parent child relationship, the authors contend that the interactive play that characterizes filial therapy is a useful strategy for parents and children to cope with the stresses of deployment. The notion of the military family was for mally embraced by the Army in 1983, when a partnership was declared between the Army and its families and increased support was offered was in this year that th e army established the U.S. Army and Community Family Support Center (Schneider & Martin, 2000). Since that time, support initiatives aimed at military families have grown in number. The Armed Services YMCA (ASYMCA), for example, has 15 locations worldwi de, and offers a wide range of services for non deployed parents and their children (n.d., www.militaryonesource.mil ).
42 The National Military Family Association's (www.militaryfamily.org) Operation Purple Pr ogram, which began as a summer camp in 2004, has since expanded to include a variety of services for non deployed parents and their children. Four day family retreats in National Parks assist families who have recently experienced the stress of deployment The mission is to www.militaryfamily.org 2012) The Experie nce of Parenting During Deployment As noted above in the section pertaining to parent outcomes, much of what is known about non deployed parents or the family system has emerged through studies that were initiated to investigate the children of military fa milies. Indeed, much of the literature that reports information pertaining to parenting in the context of military families identifies non deployed parental behavior and experiences as it relates to the support and adjustment of children and youth (for ex ample, see Morris & Age, 2009). Studies that have begun to investigate how parenting is experienced during deployment are mainly limited to exploratory, survey based research intended to catalogue stressors specific to the non deployed parent. Stressors i dentified thus far include separation strain, loneliness, role overload, role shifts, financial concerns, changes in community support, increased parenting demands, and frustration with the military bureaucracy (Drummet et al., 2003; Warner et al., 2009). In addition, although relationship maintenance with the deployed spouse has been found to have potential benefits for partners during separation, inability to communicate frequently may lead to diminished couple intimacy (Drummet et al., 2003). Chandra et al. (2009) learned through focus groups with teachers that children in families with a deployed parent appeared to take on more responsibilities, and in some instances essentially became a co parent with the non deployed parent. Nearly half the responden ts also
43 anxieties about supporting their caregiver when their m These patterns are found elsewhere in the literature, from the perspectives of youth in similar situations (Grass, 2007). In a recent qualitative study, Sahlstein, Maguire, and Timmerman (2009) interviewed 50 militar y wives whose husbands were deployed at the time of the interviews. The authors' main focus was on marital dynamics, but the study revealed valuable insights pertaining to the wives' experiences with parenting during deployment. Through the lens of a rel ational dialectics framework, the authors described the tension between autonomy and connection that the wives encountered during deployment. Central to this tension was the increased responsibilities around parenting. As the authors noted, previous stud ies on single parents have explored those contexts the expectation that the deployed parent will rejoin the family at some point in the future (Sahlstein et al., 2009). Collectively, these findings suggest that there is valuable information still to be learned about the nature of boundary ambiguity as it is experienced by the non deployed parent during deployment. Theoretical Frameworks The theoretical framew ork which conceptualizes the family as an interactional system, based on systems theory (Bateson, 1967; Minuchin, 1974), is a useful heuristic for understanding how military families are impacted during deployment. Additionally, the family stress model ( Hill, 1949; Burr, 1973; McCubbin, 1979; McCubbin & Patterson, 1980) proposes to explain the way in which deployment is experienced by separated family members. Derivative of these broader frameworks, the outcomes of the non deployed family members can
44 be more specifically explained by the construct of boundary ambiguity, which is a component of ambiguous loss theory (Boss, 1980; Boss, 1983; Boss, 2004). As the review of the literature suggests, the outcomes of children are predominantly featured as entr y points for studies of the military family, whereas our knowledge about the experiences of the non deployed parent is relatively limited. Concomitant with the increase in studies that have addressed family member outcomes, a number of legislative changes and preventative initiatives have increased support for the military family du ring deployment. Despite the apparent scope of the issue and a substantial body of literature pertaining to the outcomes of family members during deployment, little is understoo d about how the parenting role is experienced by the non deployed parent during deployment. Given what is known about the impacts of deployment on the military family as an interactional system as well as the current gaps in the family research literature future research pertaining to the experiences of the non deployed parent is recommended. As the lens through which the literature pertaining to the military family was reviewed, this section describes the theoretical frameworks that guided the literature review. Experiences of military families during deployment are conceptualized by integrating family systems theory (Bateson, 1967; Minuchin, 1974), family stress theory (Hill, 1949; Burr, 1973; McCubbin, 1979; McCubbin & Patterson, 1980), and ambiguous loss theory (Boss, 1980; 1999; 2003; 2006). These theories underscore the notion of the family as an interactional system, and posit that events impact the functioning of both individuals and the family as a whole. Together, these theories account for t he structural and psychological role reorganizations that occur during a stressful separation event such as deployment. Moreover, the element common to these three theories is an emphasis on the function of perception in the process of role reorganization
45 Within this framework, it can be expected that the lived experiences of the non deployed parent during deployment are thus organized around his/her perceptions of the separation. Family Systems Gregory Bateson, an anthropologist whose work spanned sever al disciplines but remained connected by the thread of systems theory, is often credited with playing an influential role in the inception of family therapy (Piercy, Sprenkle, & Wetchler, 1996). His contributions regarding the systemic nature of the family continue to resound in the field into the present. Of Bateson's many writings, perhaps none was more influential on early family therapists than the collection of essays that comprised Steps to an Ecology of Mind (1972). It was within this collection th at Bateson outlined the epistemological underpinnings of cybernetics, a theoretical notion that became a cornerstone of family systems theory. Cybernetics was purportedly circulated in the marriage and family therapy field by Bateson in the early 1950s (Pi ercy et al., 1996). Cybernetics specifically concerned the field of control and communication (Piercy et al., 1996), and when applied to the family, explained how the system operated as a function of information exchange within a context (Bateson, 1967; W atzlawick & Jackson, 2010). This shift away from the prevailing psychoanalytic paradigm led a number of theorists to examine the context of the family as the nexus of human interaction. In conjunction with the contributions by Bateson, early theoretical m odels about living systems informed the development of family therapy. General system theory (von Bertanlanffy, 1968) was one such conceptual framework that explained the mechanisms of living systems. x of component parts that are in mutual interaction and focus on the relationships between the parts rather than on how the parts contribute to the whole (Piercy et al., 1996). A critical contribution to family systems theory was the notion that a living system related as an open system, rather than a closed system that
46 mimicked models from classic science (von Bertalanffy, 1968). This explained why events external to the family system had the potential to imp act the system's functioning. These early cont ributions from social science and biology had significant implications for developments in the field of family therapy, particularly the ways in which interactions in the family system are understood to influence the enactment of roles. According to the f amily systems framework described above, roles are enacted as relationship patterns, which by their interactional nature are mutual (Watzlawick & Jackson, 2010). Roles serve an important function in establishing/maintaining the boundaries of the family, n amely who is in the family and how they are recognized as such. The notion of family boundaries was expanded upon most extensively by Salvador Minuchin, founder of the structural school of family therapy. Structural family therapists such as Minuchin pr oposed the critical nature of both real and perceived family boundaries. From a (Piercy et al., 1996). These invisible lines translate into the ways in which f amily members 2002). According to the structural conceptualization of the family, roles and family boundaries function to preserve a sense of equilibrium in th e family system. The roles that emerge as a circumstances cha nge. Then, the flexibility of the system becomes a litmus test of adaptability existence of the family as a system depends on a sufficient range of patterns, the avai lability of
47 52). However, the disruption induced by decreased family membership and the types of adaptation necessary to buffer against this impact to the fa mily system are only briefly discussed by Minuchin (1974). The reader may only infer from structural family theory how disruptions are accommodated during non normative family processes, including those in which repeated exits and re entries occur, as obs erved in military families during deployment. Moreover, structural family theory falls short of explaining the confusing nature of the reorganization that transpires during transitional processes such as deployment, during which sporadic contact and expec ted reentry maintain the deployed member in his/her family role psychologically despite being physically absent from the family system. For an explanation of how ambiguity about family membership impacts interactions and functioning within the family syst em, we turn to Boss's notion of the psychological family. The Psychological Family Pauline Boss, a family researcher best known for her groundbreaking theory of ambiguous loss, offered a historical quote from the family sociologist Willard Waller as a back drop to her theoretical assumptions undergirding the notion of the psychological family: The interaction of human beings with one another differs g reatly from such simpler forms of interaction as, say, that of billiard balls on a table. The int eraction o f human beings takes place in a cultural medium which itself is the product of past interaction. It also depends upon the somewhat miraculous process of communi cation. It takes place in the mind, and all our commerce with our fellows is mental and imagin ative (Waller, 1938, p. 19, as cited in Boss, 2006). Following in the tradition of early family researchers, Boss (1980/2003) proposed that
48 significantly related to the interaction within that system and between that system and the outside The emphasis here on perception is no less understated than in the theories upon which well as physical absent or present in both cases, children and adults may not function optimally. Without knowing who is routinely and fully there for them as family, people find it difficult to function The salience of the psychological makeup of the family is undeniable when separations are encou people's minds is more important than the one recorded in the census taker's notebook, especially when family members are increasingly separated and on the move because of work demands, unemployment, domestic break thus understood to challenge the stasis of family functioning, but also exist as a normative event in the course of a family's development (Boss, 2006). Although separations may be expected or anticipated, there are yet events that may exhaust a family's resources and abilities to adapt successfully. Family stress theory, discussed in the following section, explains the way in which families respo nd to such stressful events. Family Stress Theory Normative family functioning may be understood through the theoretical frameworks above to be a function of who is perceived to be present in the interactional system of the family, both physically and psyc hologically. Normative conditions may become complicated, however, if a stress inducing event is experienced within the family system. Minuchin (1974) discussed
49 stress as a component of his structural family theory, and explained how roles are impacted an d reorganization happens along four types of stresses. Within this framework, however, little mention was made of the stress induced by temporary separations. By contrast, family stress and coping have been topics of considerable interest to family resea rchers, particularly those from the discipline of sociology (McCubbin, 1979). The general definition of a stressor event, originally offered by Burr (1973) as one that produces a change in the family social system has been widely accepted within the domai n of family research. Reuben Hill, one of the earliest family researchers, applied systems theory as well as developmental models in his classic study on military separations, in order to devise a model of family stress. Hill (1949), a family sociologist, conceptualized the family stress of deployment induced separation as a crisis event, with family adaptive responses ranging widely. According create a sens e of sharpened insecurity or which block the usual patterns of action and call for As a result of his extensive research into the adaptations of families to adverse events, Hill (1949) concluded that at least three variables deter mine whether a given event becomes a crisis for any given family: the hardships of the situation or event itself, 2) the resources of the family, its role structure, flexibility, and previous history with crisis, and 3) the definition the family makes of the event; that is, whether family members treat the event as if it were or as if it were not a threat to their status, their goals, and objectives (p. 9). The pattern of adjustment that emerged among the families in the study involved initial disorganizat ion, followed by recovery, and reorganization of the family system (McCubbin, 1979), and laid the foundation for the formulation of a family stress model.
50 The landmark family separation study conducted by Hill (1949) led to the formulation of the ABC X mod el to explain the interaction of the components listed above. Hill (1958) devised the formula as follows: A (the event) interacting with B (the family's crisis meeting resources) interacting with C (the definition the family makes of the event) produces X (the crisis). McCubbin & McCubbin (1989) subsequently modified Hill's stress model to include an X model concerned the event ual decay of coping abilities over time. Pauline Boss (1980) further expanded on this notion with the theory of ambiguous loss, which further conceptualized how the family system managed reorganization and role adaptation over time. Military Families and Boundary Ambiguity Hill's (1958/2002) work also included the development of a classification that differentiated the different types of crises. Within this classification, three types of crises are conceptualized: dismemberment, accession, and demoralizat ion. According to Hill, period of confusion (1958/2002, p. 180). The experience of depl oyment falls under Hill's classification of crises as separations render a ne (p. 188). Boss expanded on Hill's classic formulation of family stress, and developed the construct of boundary ambiguity to explain the effects of perception in families who experien ce dismemberment, such as deployment. An early study by Boss (1977) proposed to explore how
51 her theoretical construct, psychological father presence, became manifested through family member perceptions during a family separation event. Significantly, the study was the first to empirically develop the construct of boundary ambiguity beyond its previous operational label of McCubbin & Patterson, 1980 ). In the study, Bo ss (1977) explored family role reorganizations that occurred among a sample of military families who had a male family member missing in action during the Vietnam War. From the range of outcomes exhibited during the study, Boss (1977) determined that perc eption about who is present in the family had important implications for the adaptation to the ambiguous absence of a family member. Building on an integration of role theory and symbolic interaction, Boss labeled the perception of that ambiguous absence a s boundary ambiguity and explained it as the following: p. 194). (p. 194). Boss (1977) hypothesized that the greater the level of boundary ambiguity, the greater the continues in any family until membership can be clarified and the system reorganized regarding (a) who performs what roles and tasks, and (b) how family members perceive the absent active duty yet still perceived as fulfilling the role of parent (psychologically present), there is the potential f or a high degree of boundary ambiguity within the family system.
52 Family stress models tend to attribute some level of developmental normalcy to the stresses encountered from entries and exits in families. However, it is important to note the distinction b etween developmental stages and transitional processes as outlined by Cowan (1991; cited in Boss, 2003) and Boss (1980/2003). It is argued that although there are expected or usual entries and exits that transpire over the developmental course of the fami ly (i.e., births, deaths, adolescents leaving home, etc.), events such as separation during deployment result in periods of reorganizations which are understood as transitional processes rather than developmental stages (Cowan, 1991; Boss, 1980/2003). Ther e have been a limited number of studies that have explored deployment as a transitional process. Pincus, House, Christensen, and Adler (2001) proposed a 5 stage model as a heuristic device that explained the transitional nature of deployment. The five st ages (predeployment, deployment, sustainment, redeployment, and postdeployment) are sensitive to the multiple transitions that occur over the course of the deployment process. Moreover, Pincus et al. (2001) utilized this conceptualization in their discuss ion about the emotional impacts of deployment on family members. Congruent with the disorganization and reorganization Hill (1949) observed, Pincus et al. (2001) discussed the ways in which family roles shifted and accommodated during the deployment stage s. This study reinforced the notion of deployment of a transitional process, and approximated what Boss (1977) observed and subsequently operationalized as boundary ambiguity. A qualitative study by Faber et al. (2008) more explicitly explored the experie nces of boundary ambiguity in families that had recently experienced deployment. The informants for this study were recruited from an Army Reserve unit that was deployed to Iraq for 15 months in early 2003. The authors found that during deployment, all fam ily members reported having
53 experienced boundary ambiguity. A methodological limitation of the study, however, was that data was collected during the year following the reservists' return from deployment. Huebner and colleagues (2007) similarly explored ambiguous loss and boundary ambiguity through a qualitative study with adolescents, who reported more specific outcomes related to family role reorganization experienced during deployment. This study improved on the methodology of the Faber et al (2008) s tudy, in that it was conducted while a parent was deployed. As mentioned in the above section on family stress, the focus historically has concerned military dep loyment are arguably distinct from normative events in that, as opposed to the stresses previously described as developmental or normative, the experience falls outside the realm of expected family transitions and is marked by its temporary and potentially fearful nature. Moreover, prolonged war induced separation has been characterized as the most severe type of separation experience a family might encounter (McCubbin, 1979). As noted previously, the nature of warfare and resulting deployments has changed significantly over time, and continues to undergo changes in to the present day I ncreasingly as reported in Merolla (2010), communication occurs between spouses during a deployment, and this has been shown to influence the perception of family roles and boundaries. The ability to communicate with a deployed spouse has kept pace with technological advances, as the telephone has become replaced by email and more recently, video conferencing platforms such as Skype. Ultimately, t emporary separations resul ting fro m the deployment of a parent send ripple effects through the non deployed family members, as the literature has served to illustrate. Thus far, however, no known research has examined the specific impacts of boundary ambiguity on parenting for the non deployed parent during deployment.
54 CHAPTER 3 METHODS The purpose of this study was to investigate the phenomenon of boundary ambiguity as it was encountered within the context of the military family system during deployment, as uncovered through th e lived experiences of the non deployed parent. Guiding philosophical frameworks were selected based on the ontological nature of this inquiry which asked broadly, plore the lived experience, this study was conceived within a hermeneutic phenomenological methodology, grounded in the works of Martin Heidegger (1953/2010) and Max van Manen (1990). The specific issues of parenting during deployment, which aimed to add ress the purpose of this study, concerned the phenomenon of boundary ambiguity and how a non deployed parent neutic phenomenological approach to exploring the lived experience of parenting during deployment. The following subquestions served to delimit the parameters of analysis that were used to represent the data, but were not intended to constrain the lived ex perience of the non deployed parent. Rather, these questions were posed as possible approaches to the multiple expressions of the phenomenon (van Manen, 1990). Thus, for the purposes of addressing the specific topics within the broader realm of the lived experience of parenting during deployment, this study asked: How does a non deployed parent describe her parenting experiences during deployment? How does a non deployed parent experience and understand boundary ambiguity as it relates to the parenting role during deployment ?
55 Describing the iterative nature of data collection and analysis in a hermeneutic phenomenological inquiry presents unique challenges. As I will discuss in the following sections, a hermeneutic inquiry reinforces the notion that alt hough the path to understanding a experiencing, and reflection. Thus, the two procedure s used to collect and analyze data in this boundary ambiguity. Data collection procedures within this hermeneutic phenomenological study were selected to elicit the lived experiences of parenting during deployment from the perspective of the non deployed parent. Two intertwined procedures, participant driven photography and photo elicitation conversations, complemented the methodological frameworks through their used by the participant to visually document her lived parenting experiences during deployment, and a series of photo elicitation conversations with the resea rcher explored the meanings of the photographs that were taken. The purpose of the interviews was to reflect on experiences of parenting while a spouse is deployed, and to capture the deep meaning of experience conveyed and visual representations (Marshall & Rossmann, 1999). The combination of the two procedures thus generated glimpses of parenting during deployment through photographs and reflections. roach to visual analysis and the interpretative phenomenological analytic (IPA) methods of Smith, Flowers, and Larkin (2009). The interpretive nature of these analytic strategies aligned with the hermeneutic
56 phenomenological frameworks of Heidegger (1953/ 2010) and van Manen (1990). The interpretation of the uncovered aspects of the lived experiences of parenting and the phenomenon of boundary ambiguity was also guided by family systems (Bateson, 1967; Minuchin, 1974), family stress (Hill, 1949; Burr, 1973 ; McCubbin, 1979; McCubbin & Patterson, 1980), and ambiguous loss (Boss, 1980; Boss, 1983; Boss, 2004) frameworks. This chapter will describe the guiding philosophical and interpretive assumptions and frameworks, how these epistemologies and theoretical pe rspectives framed the study design, the procedures of data collection and analysis, how quality was evaluated, and ethical considerations. Philosophical Assumptions and Interpretive F rameworks Within a qualitative research inquiry, it is requisite for the epistemological positioning, or beliefs about knowing, to be explored and presented in a transparent manner. This is based on the understanding that our epistemological assumptions as e, just as the methods that we use their strengths and their limitations act on our ways of thinking about the way we generate valid Ljunberg, Yendol Hoppey, Smith, and Hayes (2009) explain, when authors make their (e)pistemological awareness and desired knowledge(s) within a particular research project unambiguous and explicit, this process of self reflection can assist authors in selecting methods that instantiate and support their well as choosing a theoretical perspective that is suited to the purposes of their research (p. 687). Crotty (1998) lists three primary epistemological influences, among which a researcher ubjectivism. Subsumed under these broader categories are theoretical perspectives, of which interpretivism is one. Interpretivist approaches to investigating epistemological queries include symbolic interaction,
57 phenomenology, and hermeneutics (Patton, 2 settled upon, however, is the notion that Verstehen (understanding) in the human sciences stands in contrast to Erk laren (explaining) found in the natural sciences (Crotty, 1998, p. 67). Interpretivism, with its focus on understanding, thus serves as a relevant framework for idiographic nature of inquiries within the human and social sciences, distinct from the nomoth etic investigations found in the natural sciences (Crotty, 1998, p. 67). Epistemological positioning involves deliberation over design choices within an inquiry, res earch problem under investigation (Denzin & Lincoln, 1998). This study aimed to explore how an individual parent understood her experiences during deployment, and is thus characterized by the ontological nature of its inquiry which sought understanding th rough the subjective reality of the participant (Lincoln & Guba, 1988). Heideggerian hermeneutic parenting during deployment. meaning of being, as found in his early work Being and Time (1953/2010), served to inform the philosophical and meth odological underpinnings of the design of this selected after careful consideration of the terrain of potential theoretical perspectives within the domain of early interpretive philosophers, and the contrasts with Edmund Husserl transcendental phenomenology are sketched below in an effort to further explicate this choice. This brief consi central tenets, which were the main lens through which the lived experienced of the non
58 deployed parent were explored in this study. The purpose of these sections is not to offer a n exhaustive exposition of the topics, but rather to highlight the thinkers and ideas significant to the design of the study and to distinguish these from the range of possible others. Phenomenology Patton (2002) notes that within the context of qualitativ e research a clear definition of phenomenology is difficult to ascertain due to its popularity, and that it can refer to a philosophy, an inquiry paradigm, an interpretive theory, a social science analytical perspective or orientation, a major qualitative complicate the picture even more; transcendental, existential, and hermeneutic phenomenology ht the specific contours within the terrain of phenomenology that are echoed in the design of this hermeneutic phenomenological single case study of parenting during deployment. Amidst the backdrop of scientific revolution in the early 1900s, the philos opher Edmund Husserl was attempting to solidify the purpose of phenomenology. Husserl believed that a systematic process for understanding what we can know about the world was what philosophy s phenomenology, what is experienced is only such because we directed our mind toward what was encountered. By probing the content of our mind, we find its content to always be directed toward objects, which Husserl took to mean that we are forever consci ous of something. This intentionality, as Husserl Awareness is always awareness of something, but we can never distinguish between consciousness and the objects o f consciousness. phenomenological reduction, and was promulgated as the systematized process by which
59 consciousness and its objects could be analyzed. To approach a phenomenon as systems and opening ourselves to an immediate expe rience of phenomena (Crotty, 1998). The observed practice in phenomenological studies in the Husserlian tradition, and is incorporated as a measure of validity. Heide gger The Cartesian duality of subjects consciously approaching objects in the world presented conscious. Rather, Heidegger argued, engagement with the world outside the realm of conscious activity happens all the time. This is evidenced in the practical use of the phenomena encountered in our everyday lives, activities which constitute our unders Being and Time (1953/2010) thus reopened the question of ot denote a specific realm of entities that might be placed suffici Being and Time Heidegger (2010) explained, But it remains nave and opaque if its investigations into the being of beings leave the meaning
60 Investigations into being, according to Heidegger, involve understandings that are derived from the context of our existence amidst the world. This way of understanding thus looks outward, to the present as it is encountered around us. To entities in this context who are ing The activity of understanding is a problem unique to Dasein (Mulhall, 2005), which arises through our being in the world. Rather than experience the world thro ugh contemplation, humans instead engage in practical engagement through concrete activities, such as hammering (Packer, 2011, p. 179). Furthermore, as we engage in action, Heidegger argues that we rely not only upon what came before us (our presupposition s) but also what lies ahead. In this way, understanding unfolds as a temporal event (Heidegger, 1953/2010). Mulhall (2005) explains, All entities exist in the sense that they are encounterable in the world; some exist in the sense that they are alive; b ut, of them, only Dasein exists in the sense that the continued living of its life, as well as the form that its life will take, is something with which it must concern itself (p. 15). Heidegger, writing in Being and Time does not simply occur among other beings. Rather, it is ontically distinguished by the fact that in its being this being is concerned about is openness to the three fold temporalit y (past, present, future) within each encounter of the ready at assignment relations within which any specific object is encounterable as ready to hand or present at ha So what or who is getting this considering done, and for what purpose? For this, we turn to the activity of understanding and how it is that Heidegger proposes we come to understand.
61 This will have larger implications for his pro posal that a hermeneutic circle exists between understanding and interpretation. Verstehen most concrete involvement with the world. Dasein knows what it is about without having explicit conceptual knowledge to fall back upon. Verstehen is the capacity to understand what is demanded by the situation in which Dasein finds itself, a (Caputo, 1987, p. 109, as cite d in Packer, 2011). conscious encounters with our world. The entities are encounterable through their utility, which we come to understand against a three fold structure of context. Background provides the i in the the fore structures. Heidegger would suggest that the focus on individual entities or types of entities was insufficient if the context in which they lie is exclud ed. A hammer can be seen to have certain properties, but one should not dismiss the carpenter hammering the nail. Heidegger thus only surrounding context, but the being of the world as a whole (Inwood, 1997). Situations are classified by the ways we are able to exist in the world. Being in the world as the most general of existentials. What it means to be human for Heidegger is not a in the Hermeneutics Crotty (1998) classifies phenomenology and hermeneutics separately, although the latter is actually subsumed w ithin the former, particularly within the activity of understanding described by Heidegger. More specifically, hermeneutics is an application of phenomenological
62 prece divided upon the purpose of inquiry. Packer (2011) presents a thorough explanation of the ds with transcendental) and hermeneutic. The difference, broadly, has to do with the use of descriptions (ontic) versus interpretations (ontological) to approach the question of the nature of reality. This section will introduce the activities of interpr etation as conceived by the hermeneutic project, and will highlight the similarities and differences within this discipline in order to compare the project of Heidegger. One entry point into the hermeneutic project is to explore a topic of debate which con cerns what it means to understand what someone says, as well as the relationship between what is expressed and the subjective experience being described. Hermes, the messenger of the theory of interpretation (Stewart & Mickunas, 1974). Meditations on interpretation can be traced to Aristotle, but ultimately, hermeneutics would flourish most when systematized as an exegetical project for interpreting religious text s in the 17 th century (Packer, 2011). The zeitgeist of reason and mathematics as exclusive arbiters of the order of the universe was eventually met with criticality, which would be vital to the emergence of modern hermeneutics. The challenge to science ar ose from the conceptualization of language as a socially acquired utility, in which words carried meaning based on cultural and personal contextual meaningfulness rather than universal attachment to an objectifiable world. Bowie (2010) dilates this lingui stic turn in noting that For hermeneutics, scientific questions cannot arise at all unless we already understand the world via our practical use of natural languages. The background pre understandings involved in this cannot be explained by a scientific a ccount, because the very intelligibility of that account would itself depend on
63 always presupposes some form of prior understanding (p. 27). The present study was not situated within the transcendental phenomenology as conceived by Husserl, or those linked to him such as Colazzi (1973), Giorgi (1975), Keen (1975), or Moustakas (cite). The type of investigations linked to that tradition of phenomenology are descriptive in nature, as op posed to the hermeneutic traditions, which break from the Cartesian duality promoted by Husserl by insisting upon the interconnectedness between one who interprets and the interpreted. For Husserl and his adherents, description of phenomena could be arriv the epoche project, by contrast, rejected such a transcendental approach and instead challenged that u nity of self and other comprised the very process of interpretation. Packer (2011) explains, It is often said that with Heidegger hermeneutics became ontological. That is to say, he proposed that interpretation is not simply a special way of dealing with texts but something intrinsically human. To be human is to understand and interpret, so interpretation is not a special method but a fundamental aspect of human being. Understanding is a matter of grasping an entity as a certain kind of being and at the same time to have a grasp of what it is to be human (p. 177). What can be found in Being and Time (Heidegger, 1953/2010) is fundamentally an explanation of the connection between phenomenology as method and ontology as an area of s only in Being and Time that phenomenological analysis qua hermeneutical expansion of the forestructure of human understanding becomes itself a subject inqui ry should have a methodological framework from which to operate. This framework will be the focus of the remainder of this chapter.
64 Design of the Study Design Overview Heidegger (2010), introducing the parameters for investigation into the meaning of bein g, being of beings, beings themselves turn out to be what is interrogated in the question of being. Beings are, so to speak, interrogated with regard to their bei dependent upon a context, through which a phenomenon is laden with the meaning ascribed to it is outside of p. 179). The purpose of this herm eneutic phenomenological case study was to understand the phenomenon of boundary ambiguity as it related to parenting, specifically as it was experienced and understood by a non deployed parent within the context of the military family system during deployment. This study employed participant driven photo elicitation to explore how a non deployed parent experienced and made sense of boundary ambiguity within the context of deployment. Strategies of data interpretation were adopted to align with the hermeneutic phenomenological framework of the study. The original research proposal planned for the recruitment of no more than ten parents whose spouses were deployed at the time of the study. Due to unanticipated challenge s in recruiting participants who matched the study criteria, the design was altered to accommodate an in depth case study of one non deployed parent within the context of a deployment Sample Selection Smith et al. (2009) asserted that in a phenomenologica on the basis that they can grant us access to a particular perspective on the phenomena under sampling (Smith et al., 2009) w as planned for use in this study in an effort to best represent the
65 perspectives of non individuals and sites for study because they can purposefully inform an understanding of the rese sampling has been useful in studies which have used visual methods, such as the Brazg, Bekemeier, Spigner, and Huebner (2010) study on youth substance abuse prevention. The use of purposive sampling in studies implementing visual methods is noted elsewhere (Duffy, 2010). Criterion sampling, a specific purposive sampling strategy, was planned in order to include all cases that met some criterion (Marshall & Rossman, 1999) and served to delineate the parameters for heterogeneity (Smith et al. 2009). Based on the scant literature reporting on the lived experiences of non deployed parents, it is apparent how little is understood about the subjective parenting experiences of any non deployed parent, regardless of demographic differences such as gender, ethnicity, or branch of military service. As noted, the purpose of a hermeneutic phenomenological study is not to establish generalizations to groups within a population. Whi le I acknowledge that the deployment process is purportedly different between branches of the military (Buckholtz, 2009), my aim in this study was not to establish generalizable truths through such differences. Rather, this study concerned the experience of parenting as queried through the research questions discussed above, and thus broader inclusion criteria was justified in an attempt to deepen the understanding of the phenomenon. Based on the phenomenon of interest, purpose, and research questions ou tlined in this study design, the criteria for inclusion in this study were: Be married or in a domestic relationship with a member of the military; s pouse currently deployed or will deploy during the study; h ave dependent children in the household, between the ages of 0 17; and, l ive off base.
66 Additionally, because this study was unfunded, the sample was geographically limited to the southeastern United States. Sample Size and R ecruitment The idiog raphic approach of this ing particular to the experiences related by those participating in the study. Such focused attempts to acquire deep understanding, particularly through open ended, semi structured interviews, is not feasible among large samples. Therefore, Creswell (2006) indicated that the sample size should be 5 to 25 for a phenomenological study. Elsewhere, Smith et al. (2009) suggested that six is a sufficient size, but advocate three as an optimum number to produce a detailed analysis of each case and manage themes across the group. Initially, this study design planned for recruitment of up to fifteen participants, but in the end was successfully adapted to a case study (Thomas, 2011 ) of one parent in the context of a deployment as described below During the proposal stage of this study, I met and spoke with several individuals who expressed interest in the research topic. Contact information for these individuals wa s retained, and thus informal contacts for recruiting purposes were established prior to implementation of the study. Additionally, formal written permission to post recruitment materials was obtained from the moderator of a popular online forum for milit ary spouses prior to the implementation of the study. Recruitment began after the proposed study was granted approval from the University of Florida Institutional Review Board on March 25, 2013. A letter (Appendix D ) which introduced the researcher, the p roposed study, and criteria for participation was sent to individuals and agencies known to have contact with spouses of deployed military personnel. One such organization, 4
67 program. This program offers camps for children of deployed services members. The directors of 4 H in North Carolina, Georgia, South Carolina, and Florida were each contacted via contact ectors contacted, one responded. This director offered to forward the letter and flyer to the state listserv, which included military family members. Leaders of local family support groups (FSG) in Florida, Georgia, and North Carolina were sent the lett er and flyer. No response for participation was obtained from these sources. However, a concern was raised by a member of the recipient listserv; namely, whether parents might be rel uctant to participate without Department of D efense endorsement. This co ncern was brought to the attention of committee members, and the decision was made to proceed with recruitment using only informal (non military) contacts. In addition, self referra l recruitment flyers (Appendix B ) were posted in public spaces where permis sion was obtained, such as restaurants and community bulletin boards. The researcher also obtained permission to post copies of the flyer throughout a downtown district during a weekend music festival, which drew a crowd of more than ten thousand people f rom the southeast. Online resources included www.militaryspouse.com a forum with over 5,900 members at the time of recruitment. The research flyer along with a letter of invitation (Appendix C) was posted w ith permission to a thread concerning parenting during deployment, and was followed with two follow up posts using the same materials The sample targeted for inclusion in this study proved unexpectedly difficult to access through these means. Follow up contacts were made two weeks after the initial requests were made, and more than a month lapsed with no response. Social media proved to be useful, as one participant self referred for participation in response to an online message that included the
68 rese arch flyer. One photo elicitation interview was completed with this participant, but no other responses to the recruitment efforts were received. With approval from committee members, the participant was invited to continue within a case study design (T homas, 2011 ) The participant agreed, IRB approved the changes to the study design, and an updated informed consent was signed by the participant. Ethical Considerations of Photo elicitation While photo elicitation can yield deeper levels of meaning than survey based data (Wang, 1999), there are many ethical issues to consider when using this method. The elicitation research, combined with an extensive review of the literature reporting on photography base d methods and interpretative phenomenological analysis, informed the ethical considerations that are discussed below. The use of photography as a methodological tool is well documented, and thus a considerable amount of literature has reported on the eth ics involved in such research. Castledon, Garvin, and Huu ay aht First Nation (2008) discussed the way photography intersects taking pictures in any community is a political act and, as with other methods, the resulting data Yarborough (2010) encountered deep distrust of cameras within a Guatemalan community, which was attrib uted to the combination of cultural beliefs combined with larger discourses attached to Latin American U.S. relations. Stephens (2010) reported that participants voiced concerns about repercussions of taking photographs, such as losing housing in a public housing community, and the reactions of the community to participant photographs. To aid researchers in the implementation of ethically sensitive photo elicitation research, Purcell (2007) encouraged researchers to be mindful of cultural practices surroun ding
69 photography, and consider ethical issues such as how photography is perceived in the community and how photographers will be perceived by others while taking pictures. Drew et al. (2010) noted that difficulty arose for young people in deciding what t o photograph for a study related to personal challenges confronts our cultural habit of using cameras to generate images of p. 1682). To remain sensitive to the above concerns, the participant in the present study was prohibited from taking photographs of identifiable individuals. This was based on the ethical concerns surrounding the action of taking photographs and what imp lications such action might have for the rights of individuals appearing in photographs (Wang and Redwood Jones, 2001). for priv t was also asked to consider safety concerns when taking photographs, although this risk seems minimal given the study parameters of the family context. The photo elicitation phase, during which participants are interviewed and t ranscripts are analyzed, ca rried its own ethical considerations. As Smith et al. (2009) state d In qualitative research in general, and IPA in particular, informed consent must be gained not only for participation in data collection (you will need to think about how best to explai n to your participants what to expect from an interview or focus group), but also for the likely outcomes of data analysis (and particularly, the Transcripts, photographs, and researcher memo s were only seen by the research team (Smith et al., 2009). Member checking functioned as an additional ethical safeguard, by allowing the participant to review transcripts of her own interviews for accuracy. Member checking also provided the participant with the opportunity to review their own interviews to determine whether to withdraw particularly sensitive material from the final document (Smith et
70 al., 2009). There may be instances where an interview may delve into emotion laden territories. Smith et al. (2009) note d that it is important to anticipate how to provide participants with access to appropriate support in the event that an interview becomes upsetting. To that end, a list of local referral sources was prepared in advance of the interviews Within the presentation of the data, the participant and her family are identified by pseudonyms of her choice. Trustworthiness researchers may be imposing schemes of inte rpretation on the social world that simply do not fit within the context of this hermeneutic phenomenological study, positivist notions of quality such reconsidered to ensure appropriateness for capturing locally relevant, temporary accounts of parenting during deployment (Seale, 1999). This is not to suggest that positivist methodologies are somehow invalid or misguided, bu t rather to acknowledge that such strategies for determining rigor are not suitable choices for the qualitative design of this study he range of issues that a concern for quality (p. 7). Van Manen (1990) similarly differentiated between quantitative sciences and human sciences in terms of evaluating quality, and such distinctions were assumed in the implementation of this st ensures that outcomes are products of a process that is untainted by elements of subjectivity, which are seen as threats to uncovering objective truths. Human sciences, including qualita tive queries such as the present study, embrace subjectivity in varying degrees as a resource in
71 research design. In the phenomenological traditions, as described in the sections concerning found in the Husserlian line) or through the transparency achieved by disclosure of, while To that end, the trustworthiness of the pr esent study was judged through criteria of soundness (Marshall & Rossman, 1999), which are described in relation to hermeneutic phenomenological methods the sections to follow. Marshall and Rossman (1999) reiterate d onstructs as the criteria of soundness in a qualitative study. The criteria to be fulfilled are credibility, transferability, dependability, and confirmability. Pertinent to this hermeneutic phenomenological study, these four domains of quality that func tioned to ensure trustworthiness within a hermeneutic phenomenological framework included triangulation (multi method), peer review, member checking, thick descriptions, researcher memos, and an audit trail. Similar criteria have been used to evaluate the trustworthiness of previous photo elicitation studies (see Castledon et al., 2008). Triangulation Triangulation, which addresses credibi lity and confirmability, was accomplished through the multi method approach to collecting data. The method triangulatio n to be implemented in this hermeneu tic phenomenological study result ed in richer descriptions of the phenomena under investigation (Seale, 1999). In photo elicitation literature, it has been noted that multiple methods generate multiple layers of meaning photo, and the multiple meanings that are explored in discussion (Foster Fishman, Law, Lichty, & Aoun, 2010). This ensures thick descriptions (another facet of trustworthiness in phenomenological research) are elicited from the inquiry. Important for phenomenological
72 Peer Revie w hard questions about methods, meanings, and interpretations; and provides the researcher with the opportunity for catharsis by sympathetically listening to the rese 8). The doctoral committee, who offered guidance and support throughout the design and implementation of the study, function ed i n this capacity. This satisfied the dependability criteria. Member Validation Seale (1999) endorsed m ember validation as another technique to improve the quality of research practice. Seale (1999) expla ined that the origins of the desire to check the accuracy of research accounts with respondents, as well as other techniques for member validation, lie i n the more conventional aim of presenting a convincing account, using the views of the people on whom research has been done as a check that the account has correctly incorporated differing perspectives (p. 61). Seale (1999) further asserted that member va In this study, member validation occurred immediately following the transcription and preliminary interpretive analyses of each of the three sets of data collected in this study. The participant received uncoded copies of each of the three interview transcripts, along with a summary of the spent t he first few minutes of the second and third interviews reviewing for validation before proceeding into the photo elicitation dialogues.
73 Audit Trail This criterion satisfied the component of credibility by producing a study that was transparent. According the research process are described in the write up of the recording methodological choices regarding how participants are selected, how interviews we re constructed and cond ucted, and how analysis proceeded (Smith et al., 2009). This also involved maintaining all data in a way that connected the chain of evidence. Smith et al. (2009) state d that the research question, the research proposal, an interview schedule, audio tapes, annotated transcripts, tables of themes and other devices, secti on on data collection above act ed as an added measure of transparency necessary for a Heideggerian hermeneutic phenomenological study. These components of the audit trail were integral to the reflective writing process described by Van Manen (1990) that was ongoing throughout the study, and which captured my thoughts as they emerged and transformed about researcher is fundamental to the thinking of research, for thinking does not happen as a mechanistic process divorced from being in the world. Rather thinking is lived, breathed, dreamt, felt, run with, laughed, and cried. It arises remembered and that which is known ha of words jumping off a page, in conversation that gives insight, in writing where sentences seem to fall onto the page of
74 Thick Descriptions Qualitative research aims to produce findings that are transferable, rather than generalizable (Mar shall & Rossman, 1999, p. 43). Thick descriptions (Geertz, 1973), with their layers actualized. In order for the descriptions in a hermeneutic study to be considered transferable, there to an thick descriptions as those in which layers of meaning were evident. By revealing and building on the many layered interpretations of life, a rich and detailed understanding is made possible (Seale, 1999). Themes that emerged among participants were illustrated with transcript extracts Additional measures exist for evaluating the trustwo rthiness of phenomenological research which related directly to the presentation of the results of this study. (1983) four criteria for evaluating the power and trustworthiness of phenomenological research are: vividness, accuracy, richne ss, and elegan ce. As Finlay (2008) elaborated about the presentation of the data Is the research vivid in the sense that it generates a sense of reality and draws the reader in? Are readers able to recognize the phenomenon from their own experience or from imagining the situation vicariously? In terms of richness, can readers enter the account emotionally? Finally, has the phenomenon been described in a graceful, clear, poignant way? (p. 7). Van Manen (1990) point e d accuracy may also be understood as an elucidation or recognized as an experience that we have had or could have had (van Manen, 1990).
75 us to see a still frame of being before the play button once again activates that which in the living The presentation of the interpretations made about the data reflect not only the experiences of the participant, but also represent my presenc e within the interpretive process. This echoes Smythe et al., (2008) who research, and set forth in their article pertaining to methodology the play event of Heideggarian phenom enology as The authors explained that when carrying out a hermeneutic phenomenological inquiry, experience itself (ontologic) rather than try to articulate a more generalized analysis of essence ythe et al., 2008, p. 1390). Smythe et al. (2008) explained that the choice to do 1391). They attested that As researchers of this methodology we are never outs ide our research, never planning ahead with full confidence that we will know precisely how it will be; rather we are always already in the midst of the research, confronting the possibilities, making choices, wrestling with the restlessness of possibiliti es. Such experience, drawing from who one is and is becoming (p. 1391). Hermeneutic Phases of Data Collection and Analysis The desire to understand the world as it is perceived b y the subject has encouraged a recent surge in the incorporation of visual methods, such as photo elicitation, into research. However, photo elicitation as a field method is not new (Samuels, 2007), nor is it confined to a narrow range of disciplines. Th e wide application of photo elicitation as a primary data collection procedure underscores its utility in vastly differing terrains, including anthropology,
76 communication, education, sociology, photojournalism, cultural studies, ethnic studies, and industr ial management (Harper, 2005). Given its widespread use, photo elicitation has been rendered a flexible data collection procedure. Broadly envisioned, photo elicitation involves the use of images as part of the interview protocol (Collier & Collier, 198 6). Photographs taken by participants are explored and reflected upon during individual interviews (Oliffe & Bottoroff, 2007). Interviews explore open empirically objective representations of objects or interactions. Instead, images gain significance As remarked upon in an earlier section of this chapter, the activities of engag ement and interpretation are hallmarks of hermeneutical phenomenological inquiries. Combined, the yield new ways of understanding boundary ambiguity through a h ermeneutic perspective. Photography as a method of data collection creates opportunities for participants to feel and share emotions associated with the phenomenon under investigation (Lorenz & Kolb, 2009). These lived experiences are subsequently explor ed in greater depth during the photo elicitation interview. The collection and analytic phases that transpired in this hermeneutic phenomenological single case study are the focus of this section, and are discussed in detail below. For a graphic illustra tion of the overall data collection pro cess, please refer to Appendix L Prior to the first auto photography phase, a packet of informational material pertaining to the study was mailed to the participant. This orientation packet served to explain the pur pose of the study, as well as introduce the photo elicitation method to the participant. The participant
77 orientation packet contained a welcome letter (Appendix E) the informed consent form (Appendix A) a demographic questionnaire (Appendix G) to be u profile in the final document, an overview of the study methods (Appendix F) instructions for study related tasks (Appendix H) copies of the Photograph Information sheets (Appendix I) and a copy of the interview protocol (Appendix J) Photo elicitation and the use of photography in research were briefly explained to the participant in an overview of the methods. This introduction to the methods also explained the technical aspects of photography, discussed how images ma y be used to represent experiences, and noted that the emphasis of photographs should be on content and expression rather than aesthetics or artistic ability. Importantly, the ethical concerns and parameters of the study were outlined for the participant in this packet. Specifically, the participant was instructed not to take pictures of identifiable individuals, and was provided with alternative photographic techniques to use to represent individuals, such as staged photographs. The Use of Photographs in Data C ollection Collier (2001) elaborated on the subjective nature of photography: make a visual record we make choices influenced by our identities and intentions, choices that context of research e xpand the territory of exploration beyond the verbal, and beyond conventional inquiries. Keller et al. (2008) explain, mechanisms and context that lie on the fringes of well It has been suggested that the role of designated photographer influences the trajectory of such engagement and interpretation. As noted, the production of a visual record is an intimate
78 activity, where choices are guided by who we are, our intentions, and importantly, our relationship with the subject (Collier, 2001). Interestingly, as Samuels (2007) noted, a majority of photo elicitation studies used photographs that were taken by people (i.e., the researcher) other than the interviewee. Clark Ibanez (20 to sug gest that interviewer generated photographs are not a viable means of eliciting primacy to their world and provides a greater opportunity for research subjects to cre ate their Auto driven photo elicitation, then, removes the researcher from the image making driven photo elicitation can be relatively broad in focus, by asking participants to photograph or video anything they want about (p. 12). Importantly, the photographs generated b y participants in a photo elicitation study do not necessarily represent empirical truths or reality, but rather the multitude of possible experiences availabl photographs used in photo elicitation have a dual purpose. Rese archers can use photographs as a tool to expand on questions, and simultaneously, subjects can use photographs to provide a unique way to communicate Ibanez, 2007, p. 177). A photograph thus captures reality as it is exper ienced by the individual taking a phenomenological inquiry. Upon receipt of informed consent, the researcher exchanged
79 correspondence with the participant to answer any questions and to instruct her to begin taking photographs using the prompt I had provided. Just as the photo elicitation method varies by choice of designated photographer, so too does it offer choices among types of directives given to participants. Frequently, researchers will supply participants with a guiding prompt to delimit what is to be photographed. In one example, Stephens (2010) asked participants from one housing community, their new housing situation, and the relocation experience. They were asked to think about how the housing authority could better understand their experiences and improve The degree of specificity of such prompts o r directives carries important, if subtle, implications for the trajectory of the data produced. To dilate this methodological nuance, Samuels (2007) compared the different design processes that unfolded when prompts varied in degree of specific directive s. He questioned whether a scripted directive embedded too many of his own assumptions about the lives of his interviewees, thus still favoring the world of the researcher over the participant. In a second set of photo elicitation interviews, the author simply concluded that scripted directives yielded more relevant data than the more open ended prompt, but commented that his lack of interviewing skills beyond topic related questions likely limited the success of the open ended prompt. With these considerations in mind, I opted to use an open ended statement that the participant in this study could then choose how to illustrate. To capture the lived experience s of parenting during deployment, the participant in this study was asked to take a minimum of five photographs within a one
80 reference a copy of the open ended questions of the interview protocol for topical suggestions within this prompt. However, no further instruction about what to photograph was requested from the participant nor provided by the researcher. The participan t was encouraged to have access to a camera at all times during each of the three one week periods of photographing her lived experiences. Foster Fishman et al. (2005) noted in one photo hem in the very act of thinking about a cognitively active pro cess and involv[ed] constructing and reconstructing rather than telling a From my personal habit of carrying a camera everywhere I go, I can attest to the accuracy of the statements above. When I am engaged w ith the present, the moment at hand, I frequently feel compelled to document it visually and often creatively. In so doing, I am making choices about how I want to remember my being there and how I want to express this remembering to others. I came to le arn that the participant in this study, Agnes, held a similar understanding of being in the present with a camera. As we dialoged in our second meeting about documenting gs all day every twenty one photo graphs, discussed in detail in C hapter 4, captured and reflect moments of her
81 presence, as she interpreted and understood, bei ng there in the context of parenting during deployment. In order to reconnect the nuances of constructing meaning in these moments to the photograph when it was viewed during our dialogues, the participant was asked to complete a Photo Info sheet (Appendix I ) as soon as possible after each photograph was taken. Recent photo elicitation research has relied on similar forms in order data pertaining to the phenomenon, which can decay over time and fail to be recalled during an i nterview that might take place long after a photograph is taken (Castledon et al., 2008). The information sheets I created for this study provided the participant with the opportunity to record the date and time the photograph was taken, and to note the f ollowing with brief descriptors: what prompted you to take the photograph, what were you thinking and feeling when you took the photograph, what words do you associate with the photograph? These information sheets provided preliminary information about th e photographs as I observed them during visual analysis, and were also used to assist the participant with recall during the photo elicitation interviews. Layered Understanding: First Phase of Data Collection and Analysis First v isual analysis The particip ant emailed digital copies of her photographs to the researcher at the end of the first one week photography period. The participant submitted thirteen photographs during this first phase of data generation. The participant also emailed scanned copies of the corresponding photograph information sheets. The photographs and corresponding info sheets understanding in our deepening hermeneutic exploration of the phenomeno n.
82 The initial phase of iterative analysis toward a layered understanding commenced upon receipt of this first set of photographic data. An ongoing interpretative engagement with photographs and interviews at each phase of data collection cycled through d eepening layers of understanding about the lived experiences of the non deployed parent. Within this hermeneutic phenomenological study, I implemented an ongoing interpretive approach (within the constructivist paradigm) to the analysis of photographs and interviews, merging elements of analytic procedures of Smith, Flowers, and Larkin (2009). The hermeneutic process thus involved an iterative approach to the da ta, moving between the parts and the whole Specifically, photographs and interviews were queried separately and were then considered collectively within the larger emergent context of the phenomenon elaborated upon during our dialogues. Each analysis therefore did not proceed along a linear path, but rather functioned as a component of a cyclical unfolding of understanding throughout the data collection process. The interpretive nature of these analytic strategies aligned with the philosophic al frameworks of Heidegger (2010) and van Manen (1990). Photographs, in their most basic form, are creative products that are ultimately seen by meaning making by t he viewer. In this hermeneutic phenomenological study of the lived experiences of a parent during deployment, the analytic process of viewing photographs taken to produced during each phase of data collection. This way of seeing involved reflection by the collected in three sets. Corresponding with van Manen (1990) a nd Heidegger (1953/2010), who
83 placed the value of phenomenology upon what can it do with us, the analytic process of viewing photographs may potentially impact the taken for granted assumptions of the researcher. An expansion of this idea was noted by Sam uels (2007): of reference to be broken or impinged on by the frames of the research subjects (p. 204). My ongoing processes of visual analysis, combined with the perspective of the participant photographer, thus functioned to layer meaning and understanding within this deepening exploration of the phenomenon. This hermeneutic phenomenological study, framed as a deepening inquiry into the lived experiences of parenting during deployment, necessitated an interpretative analytic process that would be in service of the layered uncovering of boundary ambiguity within this context. To that end, Colli analysis was selected to correspond with the hermeneutic phenomenological nature of this inquiry. Collier (2001) considered the array of information that is available for interpretation through visual analysis, an d noted that all of the elements of an image may be important sources of knowledge through analysis, if only we can identify them and sort them out. The challenge is to respectfully address the many aspects of images, recognizing that the search for meani Content and character are among the many aspects of photograph s that may be The author referred to the examination of in the images or it may extract understanding regarding the making and functions of the images as well as the perspectives of
84 r analysis should begin and end with open ended processes, with more structured investigations taking place during the mid section of this circular journey. This approach provides us with an opportunity to respond to larger patterns within the whole that may reveal the new and unforeseen, that provide significant meaning to otherwi se chaotic details. (p. Based on this reasoning, the author outlined a structure for the direct analysis of a set of isual data is conceived as a four stage process, which begins and ends with open ended processes. This cyclical movement between open ended and structured phases of visual analysis assisted with the hermeneutic layering of interpretations and understandin gs about the phenomenon as it was uncovered through the multiple sets of data. Moreover, alternating between open ended and structured processes structured analys is inevitably involves focus on already defined details or points of interest, early descent into focused examinations is likely to limit true discovery and foster imposition of prior d as three separate sets throughout this study, data was thus adapted to incorporate multiple sets of photographs. In effect, this unfolded in three phases within this s tudy. The first set of fourteen photographs collected from the participant was viewed using the stages of visual analysis described below. Ad ditionally, only the first set of photographs was viewed without the contextualizations provided by the photo
85 elicitation interviews. The Photo Info sheets that were received with the first set of photographs were the only source of contextual information available during the first phase of viewing. The first phase of visual analysis described by Collier (2001) involved the observation of the data as a whole. To aid the viewing of the set of photographs, each photograph was printed and then adhered to a piece of foam board. The set of photographs was arranged randomly at this stage of viewing, as illustrated in Figure 3.1. Figure 3 1 First Set of Pictures The set of photographs was held as a conduit for the representation of th e activities responses to the whole set were noted on a page in a spiral notebook. In order to track the progression through deepening phases of analysis, each page of notes was labeled to correspond with the phase of visual analysis. The initial set of fourteen photographs was my first glimpse into this world. The ubiqu my own familiarity with these landscapes. Other photographs floated as islands of curiosity
86 within the whole, such as the close For viewing of the set as a whole. photograph was numbered and labeled according to the caption supplied by the participant on the corresponding Photo Info sheet. A master list was created for each set of photographs, which included individual photograph numbers, captions, and any specific feelings or responses that had been noted during the initial open viewing. All Photo Info sheets were reviewed at this stage, and particularly salient participant descriptions were added to the inventory. specific questions and produced detailed descriptions. The aim of this phase was open ended viewing. The specific questions I posed to each of the photographs during this phase were the main research question, along with the three subquestions. Detailed descriptions reflected the ways in which each photograph represented the research questions based on my initial interpretations, and these were recorded on a separate page in the spiral notebook. This layer of interpretat ion also contained elements of my uncertainty, and I made note of any questions that arose while viewing each photograph. visual record and [a] search for meaning signif icance, placing the details from the structured analysis in a context that defines their significance (Collier, 2001, p. 39). The photo elicitation
87 interviews, which are described below, provided a more complete context for interpretation of the complete visual record. I reflected on my preliminary interpretations and considered questions that lingered about the photographs, recording my thoughts in summarizing notes at the conclusion of the third stage of visual analysis. These notes were subsequently became a tool for layered understanding as I reflected on them throughout the interview. As we explored her preliminary interpretations of her images. For these re stage of visual analysis to be combined with the analysis of the interview. The procedure of the photo elicitation interview, followed by the combined process of analysis for these stages of data collection, will be the focus of the next section. First photo elicitation i nterview images also elicit various subjectivities from our participants that instead of being bracketed away can be process, participant generated images were explored over the course of three photo elicitation interviews in order to reach a deeper understanding of her subjectivities wit hin the context of parenting during deployment. The deepened understandings made possible by such dialogues have been contrasted with the outcomes of conventional spoken interviews. Samuels (2007) contrasted his previous experiences conducting word only interviews with those of photo elicitation, and recalled that discussions that included photographs were longer, with different elicite d responses were more descriptive and, more important,
88 beyond merely the visual (Killion & Wang, 2000). Multiple layers of meaning are s ourced from the concrete features, as well as the symbolic or metaphorical qualities of photographs. Importantly, the interviews serve to return the process of making meaning to the participant. bjective image created by the The dialog ues about photographs during photo elicitation interviews have the capacity to about the moment captured by a photograph. John Berger (1992; cited in Samuels, 2 007, p. 216) faculty. The sharper and more isolated the stimulus memory These processes of reflection can be substantially deepened through multiple interviews, as became evident in this study. The first of the three interviews conducted for this study was scheduled upon receipt of the parti sheets. Each of the photo elicitation interviews, which took place within one week of submitting the participant, allowing her to attend to her young children comfortably during our conversations. During the interviews, my responsibility in my role as researcher was to ensure the participant felt comfortable enough to respond in a genuinely honest an d comprehensive fashion
89 interview was prefaced by our reflections on shared parenting experiences that had transpired reschedule our meeting, and our discussion about these events was a comfortable segue into the photo elicit ation interview. According to Smith et al. (2009), data that will be analyzed through interpretative this end, interviews were audio recorded by digital record ing devices. Two digital recorders were used, in order to have one as a backup measure in the event of device malfunction. The awkwardness of the presence of two recorders, situated in the space between us as we began the interview, was acknowledged but During the interview, each photograph and corresponding photograph info sheet were presented to the participant, and t he interview guide (Appendix J ) was used to query topics relevant to the researc opportunity to tell their stories, to speak freely and reflectively, and to develop their ideas and interview guide were asked to explore the topics that aimed to enhance an understanding of the phenomenon of boundary ambiguity as it was experienced by the participant. The interview investigator is able to inquire a
90 57). How do you understand your role as parent during deployment? responsibilit ies during deployment? photograph, which lasted over an hour before we moved on to the next image. Within that one her experiences encompassed nearly the entire list of questions from the interview guide. Before moving on to the second photograph, we paused to acknowledge the breadth of topics generated from her reflections on that first photograph. The subsequent ph otographs thus served to guide dialogue that layered meaning onto her initial reflections. The dialogic process of our first interview explored nine photographs, and lasted three hours and two minutes. Due to the length of this first interview, Agnes and I agreed to discuss the remaining five photographs in the next interview. At the end of the interview, I described the next steps of the study to Agnes. Immediately following each of the interviews, I made note of impressions or thoughts about the interv iew in structured researcher memos (Appendix K ). An integral component of the undergirding hermeneutic phenomenology of this design was the way in which interpretation was shaped by the fore structures I brought to this study. Although I have documented w hat I understood to be my personal and professional situatedness in a previous section of this chapter, there were yet fore structures that had not risen to my awareness. Smith et al. (2009) explained that an awareness of preconceptions may actually arise from encounters with phenomena: preconceptions. And note the sequence here the suggestion seems to be that one makes sense of these fore structures in terms of the thing s themselves. In other words, while the existence of fore structures may precede our encounters with new
91 things, understanding may actually work the other way, from the thing to the fore structure (p. 25). Thus, as I engaged with and reflected on the part elicited interviews, I found myself uncovering additional preconceptions about the phenomena. founded upon reflexivity (Smith et al., 2009). My reflexivity as a researcher about my own preconceptions that arose throughout the study was thus captured by writing memos immediately after each individual interview and throughout the analytic process. Collectively, the structured a nd unstructured documentation of my thoughts in memos holds writing to be a each stage of deepening analysis thus reflected my aim to use writing as a tool, in t he way van To initiate the next phase of interpretative analysis, I transcribed the interview from the audio recording. Trans criptions of each interview were completed by the researcher. This was 74). Prosodic aspects of conversation, such as utterances or lengths of pauses, are not required by IPA transcription. What is required is a semantic record of the interview, which Smith et al. (2009) explain contains all the words spoken by everyone w ho is present, with notes on the
92 Each interview was transcribed immediately following the meeting. Keller, Fleury, and Rivera (2007) inserted field notes a nd reflections describing the context of the interviews while listening to the recorded sessions in a photo elicitation study on food choices. This added element of researcher reflexivity during the interpretive process was incorporated into this study in a similar manner. The three audio recorded interviews in this recorded open ended contextual notes about these background sounds during the initial listening to the interview. Furthermore, there were events that took place outside the recorded interviews but were relevant to the purpose of the study. For example, interviews were rescheduled due to family illness. In another case, the participant shared that deployment had been extended. These contextual details were recorded as separate memos as they occurred. The post interview memos in this study followed the protocol found on the Post interview Memo sheet (Appendix K ), whereas the memos made during transcription and analysis were open ended and did not follow a specific protocol. Ultimately, these memos served to document those preconceptions that I did not know were relevant to my interpretations, but became so as I engaged with the data. The contextualizations noted in these memos further aided in the deepening interpretations of the data, which is described in detail in the following sections. First interpretative phenomenological a nalysis Collier (2001) noted t use as vehicles to knowledge and understanding via the responses they trigger in photo elicitation hoto
93 elicitation often have little connection to the details of images, which may serve only to release noted that photographs are unique in that they give bir th to stories, which are important sources of information. In this study, the photographs taken by the participant were used to generate the spoken details and understandings about the lived experiences of parenting during deployment. The three transcrib ed photo elicitation interviews were each analyzed using procedures of interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA; Smith et al., 2009). experiences. To that end, Smi th et al. (2009) provide strategies that ensure that analysis remain an iterative and inductive cycle, and which are designed to encourage a reflective engagement hermen eutic and the reflexive nature of inquiry outlined by van Manen (1990). A heuristic framework of analysis adapted for this study, adapted from Smith et al. (2009), is presented below. The first photo elicitation interview transcript was initially reviewed following Smith et recorded (Smith et al., 2009, p.). The interview transcript was then re The next phase of interpretative phenomenological analysis of the transcript involved recording initial notes. Language use was examined on an exploratory basis, using the analytic
94 s commented upon and there is no requirement, for example, excerpts of interview text comprised the majority of the units of data to which descriptive and co nceptual comments were assigned. Conceptual comments were noted in the margins of the transcriptions, and these served to denote particularly salient excerpts of text that related to the research questions. Text was also coded as either details or underst andings about details in response to the research questions. The along the three temporalities of past, present, and future, were considered in these conceptual co mments about the lived experiences of parenting during deployment. reflections on the past, instances of the present, and projections into the future, I reflected on the set of photographs and my preliminary interpretations. I returned to the first set of photographs and my visual analysis notes throughout the free analysis and conceptual commenting, and began moving photographs around the foam board into groups based on dee pening connections among details and reflections. Further stages of interview analysis using IPA was delayed until all three transcripts were returned from member checking, and these processes are described in a later section of this chapter. The notes f rom the transcription session, the free textual analysis, and prior stages of analysis were reflected upon as I explored the first set of photographs a final time within a larger context of meaning. The arrangement of photographs resulting from the combined analysis of this phase is illustrated in Figure 3.2.
95 Figure 3 2 First Phase of Analysis At this final point in the first phase of analysis I reflected on these overlapping groups of photographs along with the other products of analysis to this point and briefly summarized emergent patterns. I labeled these connec tions among the photographs and text tentatively as of the interpretative activities I considered these interpretive products as I returned to my original research questions. of photographs and the abundance of rich descriptions provided through our dialogue revealed the multi faceted nature of the lived experiences o f parenting during deployment. Yet, as patterns were beginning to be glimpsed through her descriptions of her experiences of parenting, j ust as many questions were raised in regard to how she experienced and understood boundary ambiguity in her role as a parent during deployment.
96 Through the clusters of photographs and textual analysis, I could begin to see the ways in which her experiences within the context of parenting during deployment were in many ways ibed by Minuchin and others. Not only did but that ambiguity also traveled bi directionally. This challenged my previous understanding about the site of bound ary ambiguity as solely within the family system from which a member was physically absent. What impact did this have however, on role reorganization during deployment? I recognized the need to explore this more fully in sub sequent dialogues in order to better understand how she experienced boundary ambiguity, and noted this question to address in our next interview. The transcript, along with a brief message conveying the patterns and questions from my interpretations, was then sent to the participant for member checking. The participant responded that no changes or additions to the transcript were necessary, and she commenced with taking her second set of photographs using the same prompt. Second Phase of Data Collection and Analysis Second visual an alysis The second set of photographs consisted of three photographs, which are illustrated in Figure 3.3. The steps of visual analysis described in the first phase were repeated with this second set of photographs. When I queried these three photographs with the research questions, I also took into account the first phase of analysis and built upon those initial interpretations. In particular, I considered how these three photographs might represent deepening extensions of the understandings derived duri ng the first photo elicitation interview. I remained open to the possible ways in which Agnes had also used those understandings to represent her lived experiences in this second set of photographs.
97 By taking into account prior interpretations, the notes I recorded throughout this second visual analysis (as well as during the later interpretative analysis of the interview) became revisions of earlier thought. This reflected the activities of hermeneutic phenomenological writing as described by Van Manen ( fullness and ambiguity of the experience of the lifeworld, writing may turn into a complex process of rewriting (re thinking, re flecting, re this second v isual analysis were then referenced throughout the second photo elicitation visual analysis (the return to the whole for meaning significance) was delayed until after the analysis of the second transcript. Figure 3 3 Second Set of Photographs Second photo elicitation interview The period of time that had lapsed since our first interview had been challenging for sted, and Agnes had also succumbed to illness. It
98 seemed like something was troubling her when she welcomed me into her home for our second been extended. She was which she had spent considerable time planning. She had received this news, via Skype, about ten minutes before I arrived at her home. Agnes processed these events with me, and thi s sensitive conversation although highly relevant to the research topic was not audio recorded. She explained to me how she had been counting the days until his return, and had been looking forward to seeing him. She explained that his return would have provided a much needed break from the demands of parenting alone, and would have allowed time for her to recover her health. She had been ill mid week, and we had rescheduled this meeting in part due to her not feeling well. The other part was my getting We spoke casually about our recent parallel lived experiences in the context of parenting. As the interview began, Agnes cleaned up in the kitchen as her daughter Mary tried to teach me Spanish words. Both children were present during this interview, and when Adam woke from his nap, both were awake. The audio recording of the interview has Disney music in the background and of us shared grapes on the sofa while we talked. Before we began exploring her photographs, I asked Agnes to share her thoughts about the member checking process. She reflected on what it was like to read through our first transcribed interview, and men tioned it was weird to read what your actual thoughts are. It makes you think about them going,
99 After this brief reflection on the process, we moved into a discussion of the four photographs that we ha d not had time to explore in our first interview. More than two weeks had passed since Agnes had taken those first pictures, so we relied on the Photo Info sheets to assist with recall. Once a few words or phrases on the sheets were associated with each of the photographs, Agnes reflected on her lived experiences in detail. Midway through the interview, as we accompanied Mary out to the screened patio, Agnes discovered the bird nest she had photographed in the past week had been destroyed. This compounde lived events that transpired in the midst of our interview subsequently set the tone for her reflections on those three pictures. The recorded interview concluded after nearly two hours of discussion, but I lingered while Agnes prepared lunch for the children. As I recorded notes after the interview, I reflected on how I felt after leav home this second time. She might have graciously described her situation in other terms, but I noted that I sensed how overwhelmed she was. I connected this observation to my own memories of feeling overwhelmed as a parent in similar circumsta nces, but noted the ways in which our experiences were divergent. Being overwhelmed seems to be an experience common rendering a unique perspective on what this means in the context of parenting during deployment. Second interpretative analysis The analysis of the second interview followed the procedures conducted during the first interview analysis, beginning with transcription and moving into a free textual anal ysis. I set aside my notes from previous analyses during the free textual analysis of the second transcribed
100 interview, in order to remain open to any novel uncoverings of the phenomenon. After reviewing the transcribed interview in this manner, I turned to my notes from the first and second visual analysis, as well as the analysis of the first transcribed interview. Conceptual and descriptive comments reflected the tentative connections I interpreted between our two dialogues. I returned to the photogra phs that had been explored to this point. The three photographs from the second set were examined for relationships to the first set, and were placed among the groups based on deepening connections among details and reflections. Based on my interpretatio associations I had ascertained, as well as the questions that arose from this phase o f analysis. The final grouping of the combined sets of photographs is illustrated in Figure 3.4. Figure 3 4 Combined First and Second Photograph Sets With this second phase of analysis complete, I considered the deepening information that had been ad ded to the previous interpretations. In particular, the events that had transpired in
101 and how this impacted her ability to function and cope with role respons ibilities. This also served to clarify ways in which she experienced and understood role reorganization as she encountered ambiguity, a question that had been raised through the first photographs and dialogue. Moreover, the depictions of lived experience s in this second data set solidified understanding about the role of commu nication during deployment. Whereas the interpretations to this point had m oved understanding about boundary ambiguity in this context forward as the contours of her multiple roles became defined along lines of her perceptions of uncertainty, the specific roles remained to be explored in greater depth. Once again, I summarized my interpretations in a brief message and sent these along with the second transcript to Agnes for member ch ecking. Agnes noted one spelling correction to the transcript, and indicated that no other changes or additions were necessary. Agnes was then instructed to proceed with the final one week photography period, using the same prompt as in previous stages. Third Phase of Data Collection and Analysis Third visual analysis For the final photography period of the study, Agnes supplied four photographs that depicted her life as a parent during deployment (illustrated in Figure 3.5). As with the previous two set s, I first observed these photographs as a group. I noted my initial reactions to this set, which included my curiosity about the events that had prompted Agnes to capture these particular scenes. As a group, there were echoes of the topics we had previo usly explored in turned to the Photo Info sheets for assistance. After re
102 immediate reflections on her photographs, I considered each photograph in regard to the research questions. Finally, I summarized my interpretations and noted any questions before proceeding with the fina l photo elici tation interview. Figure 3 5 Third Set of Photographs Third photo elicitation interview where a large framed photograph hung. As I admired the gift Agnes had created f or Joe for Her reflections about this frightening event were interrupted by fits of coughing, the lingering symptom of her recent bout with bronchitis. Our dial ogue about the four photographs flowed from this initial discussion of scary events and illness. Once all four photographs had been explored, I asked Agnes to reflect on her experiences as a participant in this photo think a lot of it is eye opening day to
103 lived experiences in photographs is something that she did frequently, but the process of reflecting on her photographs during the study had led to new discoveries about being a parent during deplo If I collectively sad that he Before this final dialogue of the study came to a close, Agnes and I explored what her discoveries and our combined interpretations might offer others particularl y those in society who may not have a window into the lives of military families who experience a deployment. Agnes shared her honest and heartfelt appraisal of the larger context which she and other military spouses encounter, and offered recommendations for reconciling gaps in understanding. I thanked Agnes for all of her contributions to this study, and stated that I would send the final transcript for member checking within the next few days. Third interpretative analysis The transcription of the fina l interview proceeded through free textual analysis, and moved into conceptual and descriptive commenting identical to the procedures followed in the first and second interpretive analyses. Again, I returned to the set of photographs affiliated with this third interview. Based on prior interpretations and those interpretations that had built from this third phase of analysis, the four photographs were considered in relation to the previous two sets. All twenty one photographs were rearranged across two f oam display boards, incorporated into new groupings based upon understandings derived from the three phases of data collection and analysis. The groupings that resulted from this third phase of analysis are illustrated in Figure 3.6 below.
104 Figure 3 6 Third Grouping of Photographs This third analytical phase further deepened the understandings about the context and experiences of boundary ambiguity through our focused dialogue about her photographs, which traversed the terrain of previously illuminated facets of her experiences. Yet, new connections were still forming among the data and raised questions that I would attempt to address by considering the combined whole of the interpretations that had emerged through these three phases of analysis. At th crystallized around her understandings of the ways in which her roles had become reorganized during deployment, thus functioning to clarify those perceived roles. A few photographs and the discussions that they generated, however, did not easily connect to previous interpretations. Thus, I moved into the final phase of analysis in hopes of understanding more fully the combined interpretations that had emerged throughout these three phases of analysis.
105 Retu Once the final transcript was returned from member checking, all three transcripts were coded in succession during a secondary free textual analysis. This provided the opportunity to conceptualize how all three photo elic itation interviews flowed into one another and created a larger whole. For ease of reference, a column was created next to the transcribed text that aligned it to the corresponding photograph that had been viewed by the participant at this point in the in terview. A separate document with two columns was created. To the first column, I assigned the relates to comments, were separated into the two columns. Patterns in details and understandings were coded next. A total of twelve subordinate clusters were forme d from these codes. In this way, clusters were developed by mapping the interrelationships, connections, and patterns between exploratory notes. Smith et al. (2009) described this as an iterative process that involves movement between parts (discrete ch unks of text) and whole (what was learned through the whole process of initial noting). The purpose of this process was to produce a concise statement of what was important in comments attached to text parts. Emergent clusters thus s original words, as well as my interpretations throughout the three phases of interpretative analysis of photographs and interviews. Smith et al. (2009) recommended the adoption of a data organization strategy that allows for the compilation of transcript extracts by thematic features. To that end, I maintained a text document for each theme as it emerged through the final analysis. In each document, I cut and pasted extracts directly from the transcripts. Smith et al. (2009) noted that such a strategy is
106 Fi nally, connections across clusters in the photographs and text were mapped using abstraction (Smith et al., 2009). The final combined set of photographs (twenty one in total) had been initially arranged into roughly seven groups at the end of the third phase of analysis. Some clusters had still overlapped at that point, but the final clustering yielded three distinct groups that also corresponded with the products of the final analysis of the thre e interviews (see Figure 3.7). ions, three superor dinate layers of understanding had been abstracted from the relationships among clusters. Each layer of understanding is conceptualized within this hermeneutic phenomenological process as a turn in the spiral of uncovering the phenomenon boundary ambiguit y. These three turns ultimately served to depict the three ways in which Agnes encountered boundary ambiguity within the context of parenting during deployment, and were assigned labels that summarized the a and Missed Moments. Chapter 4 presents these three encounters with boundary ambiguity.
107 Figure 3 7 Final Grouping of Photographs
1 08 CHAPTER 4 RESULTS The lived experiences of parenting during deployment were revealed through the ended photo elicitation interview questions. This chapter presents the products of an interpretive analysis of photographs and interview texts that documented those lived experiences. The results are prefaced by a brief introduction to the participant, based on basic demographic information collected through a questionnaire at the beginning of the study. Three layers of understanding were uncovered during the analysis of the photographs and photo elici tation interviews. These layers are representations of three possible expressions of encounters with of the context of parenting during deployment along with the ways she experienced and understood boundary ambiguity as it related to her parenting role, were subje cted to my own interpretation s and these elements c ombined to form the uncoverings of the phenomenon presented here. Within each of the three layers responses to my first a nd second research questions integrate the details of in the world as a parent during deployment, and how she experienced and understood boundary ambiguity within this context. Participant Profile nt) is a woman in her mid thirties At deployed to Afghanistan with the United States Air Agnes and Joe have been married for s ix years, and this is not their first deployment related separation. Prior to this most recent separation, Joe had deployed with the Air Force nine times. Of those deployments, the longest period of separation was nine months.
109 Agnes and Joe have commun icate d regularly during his deployments, frequently on a we ekly basis. Communication between family members in the context of deployments has taken place over the telephone, Skype, and through emails. Agnes and her family live off base, and the nearest m aware ness of support services for family members of deployed service members but reported that she usually only reaches out to friends for support during deployments. Overview of Results Boundary ambiguity is understood to influence role reorganization within a family where a member is physically or psychologically absent. According to Boss, role assignment during a gical family that is, those who constantly unfolding, however. From within a hermeneutic phenomenological framework, lived experiences constitute the temporal con tinuum of past, present, and future, and it is thus in this during deployment, encounters with boundary ambiguity have reorganized parenting roles in d ifferent ways The three layers presented here represent the patterns of role reorganization that Agnes experienced and understood through her encounters with boundary ambi guity. Each of the three layers reveals the complex and dynamic nature of boundary ambiguity as it is experienced within the context of parenting during deployment. The three expressions are not intended to serve as generalizations about parenting during deployment. They represent what was uncovered in the lived experiences of one parent, through t he hermeneutic cycling through forestructures, the being in the world, and towards whichness that was guided by encounters with boundary ambiguity within her context. My personal ces, and someone
110 with different experiences would perhaps approach the phenomenon with their own interpretations. Indeed: phenomenology did something with me in this study. Through the process of dialogue and reflection with Agnes, my own forestructures were present and at times, uncovered for the first time. My involvement as interpreting researcher is therefore interwoven through out my explication of the layers of understanding from her established daily routines as a parent during deployment. Our discussions about these photographs revealed a sense of normalcy that accompanies her experiences of parenting during deployment, which Agnes attributed to repeated deployments. Agnes discussed the role responsibilities that she experienced during a typical day and described the perceived adaptations of her family to deployment. In the context of deployment, when Joe departs for months of work with the military, her job as an around the she often experiences role overload and described how she manages the resulting stress within r family system, as Agnes revealed through her reflections on seeking support as a parent during deployment. A history of deployment related separations has shaped the template for parenting roles Force occurred prior to the birth of their children. At first, deployment was experienced by Agnes as an emotionally difficult event, fraught with uncertainty about the impact it would ha ve on her relationship with Joe. Agnes described the first deployment related separation, recalling that
111 it used to be really hard. The very first time he had to go away, I was a mess. I just dating, and so Agnes recalled that, after a while, the sadness and fear that had previously surrounded deployments subsided. She attributed this to the expectation that she would be able to communicate with her h usband while he was deployed. As s he described the changes in her response to deployment, she explained, context of the family system, J leaving for work. Repeated deployments over several years have normalized the separation. As In this context, Joe is held psychologically present by Agnes in the role of being away at work. This abates uncertainty about how he is present in the family, and role reorganization follows a predictable path upon deployment. Consequently, transactional pa tterns (Minuchin, 1974) between the two parents in this context are perceived by Agnes as founded upon the divisions of labor. His physical absence his physical return to the family at the end of a work period that spans several months, and thus the role reorganization is clear. She articulated the way this transaction is encountered at the beginning of a deployment: Him being deployed other than the stress tha t it causes me here at home kiss their husbands when they walk out in the morning and then they come home in
112 ire to go to work with Daddy reflects adaptations to this transactional pattern. In effect, these role reorganizations have become established over time through repeated deployments. Agnes wrestles with this, as the following excerpt illustrates: She alw (Mary sits on Agne Within this context, Agnes understands her parenting role during deployment as a full time work. experienced her role as being both the mother and father. Agnes described her identity in this Agnes indicated in her experiences of the role reorganizations that occur during deployment, there have been stresses related to parenting alone for long stretches of time. She recalle d that being physically separated as new parents was particularly stressful after Mary was at this time. But, she related that she felt assurance that becomi ng a parent had altered his survival instincts and that he would return home safely to the family at the end of deployments. About the reorganization of roles into divided work contexts, Agnes admitted that it was difficult for both parents. She explained oriented objectives for the family system, and is considered to be a sacrifice paid in the interest of
113 no personal benefit from the separations. Agnes concluded that her role in this context will Against this perception of roles divided along functions of work responsibilities the day to day existence of the family unfolds. The patterns of interactions that constituted the According to Agnes, an important function of her role during deploym ent is the establishment and maintenance of routines in the home. As Minuchin observed, routines function to maintain equilibrium in the family system. Agnes described how she enacts routines, alluding to the consequences of dissolving this equilibrium: There are hours, and there are schedules, and there are, you know, things that have them up attitude, and demeanor and just the way that they are. Agnes explained how her children are the basis for the primary routines she maintains: The toward which importance fo r Agnes of having a routine for the kids is based upon being able to structure her nt 24/7, her personal She noted that since Mary has begun attending pre school, routines in the home have become difficult to maintain. Agnes described reach
114 The accumulation of lived experiences through repeated deployments has supplied Agnes with forestructures for making sense of the importance of routine s in the family during deployment The shifts in equilibrium of roles, which she described through reflecti ons on when Joe returns home, are structures that have similarly shaped her understanding of routines: Usually, when he first comes back sually go him what the basic day looks like. Agnes described the changes to routines that have been encountered through repeated separations from and re entries into the fa mily system. She explained how these shifts impacted her role as a parent: So you know, you have those kind of moments and I try to get him to appreciate guess is the best word. And you know, as a mother, you have something you do now this is messing with my schedule. These reflections were extended to her previous identification of h er role as parent 24/7 as she explained the way in which she managed the frustrations that she encountered as she reiterated the importance of routines. As she reflected on recent discussions with her husband about parenting during deployment, she remembe red saying to him: company. You come to me if you have a question. And he just looks at me and my I take my job very seriously. that she encounters within the context of routines that constitute a typical day during deployment I invited Agnes to describe a typical day. When Joe is not physically present, the
115 Agnes described the responsibilities and tasks that are enac ted throughout the routines of her day, which highlight the nuances of fulfilling the roles of both parents during deployment. their own in the morning. Agnes for the day ahead: s to go in his bouncer, talk to the doggie, you know, he wants to explore the world for the morning. his pajamas, fine. But I have to dress her, because I want her to un dressed. In addition to caring for her children, Agnes attends to the needs of the family dog, Indy. (Figure 4 1) spoke to at any given moment during a routine day. With a leash, a stroller, and a toddler filling the frame and appearing as physi cal extensions of herself it became apparent how much she needs an extra hand. It also depicted the ways in which she is being pulled along by her responsibilities as a parent filling both roles.
116 Figure 4 1. As she described these daily walks, Agnes mentioned the changes to this routine that have happened since Mary has outgrown wanting to be pushed in a stroller: to walk next to me, we take this str walking with her. Unfortunately, she wants to push the stroller and she pushes it er baby stroller to walk her baby stroller so I can walk this. She described the daily morning walks with the children and the dog within this context
117 After taking a walk, the family returns home for breakfast and to tak e Mary to school on some days. Mary ha d been going to school more frequently lately, and Agnes described how she has managed this alteration to the usual routine encountered during deployment : school, because sh I think a quarter of eleven is the last time they stop taking people. Which is nice, because then I can put in her in right before they have their snack and their lunch, and then I can pick her up a little bit later and just, yo u know. Because Adam in the afternoon, sleeps when I ideally would like to pick her up. Agnes explained that going to school has become more frequent, and discussed how she feels conflicted about this as a parent. She perceives the benefits of added stru cture to her Since she started this new school, she wants to go to school every day. Normally today, can I go to the day: another walk, just to go outside, because Adam loves going outside, he loves the fresh air. And then we come in the house. We play, we take naps well, he takes we go and pick up sister. The wa s also comprised of household responsibilities, such as cleaning and doing laundry. As Agnes spoke about these responsibilities, she explained how living in her in also obligated her to maintain a certain level o f cleanliness. She added that this also mea nt not being able to decorate the home as she would prefer, which makes
118 decorated how I would ever want it, but everythi ng in here is a hand me down, so we deal with it When Mary is home, playtime happens in the midst of cleaning and maintaining the home. As a parent, there is something drawn up from the pre conscious when a pile of crayons is the subject of a photo graph, as depicted in Figure 4 2 A knowing that is so general as to be without a label for the sight of it. When I first viewed this photograph, there was a revivification of that knowing, of the having been the parent of a todd ler. During our first meeting in her home, similar scenes unfolded in front of us as Adam played with his toys in the floor. We discussed this facet within the everydayness of being parent. Agnes said of this photograph, But yes, this is a typical day I should grab my phone and show you this, because this kind of stuff happens all the time. Last night, I made her clean the playroom with me bec Figure 4 .2.
119 Agnes perceives that this in turn creates more work for her in her role as single parent in this context, since she is the only one present to pick up the messes. As she discussed this photograph in relation to her responsibilities in her role as parent 24/7 during deployment, she related, Mary will take her bag of crayons, right there, her basket with all her coloring stuff, and she will pour out the Agnes explained how she has attempted to expedite cleaning the house on a regular basis but how despite this the messes persist: I bought a sweeper, b carpet and spilled it in nice big circles. She made me this nice (inaudible) on the floor. Agnes created a behavior chart for Mary to reinforce helping mommy keep the house clean. She According to Agnes, di inted to the chart and remarked Within her descriptions of her typical day as a parent during deployment, she also mentioned that g etting the children to take a nap is an important part of their daily routine. This may take extra effort on some days. Agnes described how she attempted to persuade Mary to take naps, noting the importance of this facet of the daily routine: if there
120 Being the lone parent supervising young children in this c ontext also means that safety arises as a priority within the daily lived experiences. Agnes described her daughter as a throughout the day as Mary plays: If you give her right now, well we may have moved them, I may have moved them because she was climbing. Last night, we had the drums and she was climbing them. She will find anything to climb After Mary is picked up from scho ol, the evening routine unfolds. we and if she wants to see Doc McStuffins or whatever she wants to see on TV I let her, because s fine. Normally, before school, there was no In addition to preschool, Agnes expressed a desire to enroll Mary in gymnastics. She expl ained the challenges that she anticipated this activity would b ring to the daily evening routine she attempted to maintain as a single parent : at night, and [Adam] is in bed at 6:30. So how does that work? As her children have grow n older Agnes has noticed how the bedtime routine has become an Agnes related as she described the nighttime routines as they have unfolded recently. She explain This new pattern to the routine presented a dilemma for Agnes as she attempted to put both childre n to bed by herself at the end of the evening. She explained, So, like last night she was pulling out books and she was reading, and then she
121 thers me, because She described this in relation to her role as a parent without her husband present to assist. have to deal with i t. Acting as a single parent in these situations requires Agnes to relinquish some of the structure of the routine, for her own sake. Agnes reconciled this flexibility w ith the desire to ease both children into sleep, but noted the difficulties in getting Mary to stick to one activity before bedtime. And either I can listen to her scream while her brother is sleeping and wake him up, an do. We can do one more thing, and then And you know, when she finally g il lness among her children had been ongoing at home during t being a parent during deployment made an explicit appearance in Figure 4 3 where behind the medicine and thermometer the clock reads 4:12 a.m.
122 Figure 4 3. These are encountered in the glow of the stove light as she cares for her children into the early over to the stove at night. Agnes described the cyclical experience of having two children sick at And then they had it where Mary would be sick this week with an ear infection, and then Adam would be sick the following week with an ear infection. It was going on for a long time. The n we had a nice lull. Nothing. Me, yes, but them, nothing. Out of nowhere, The ongoing illnesses were also reflected in the medication box that Agnes created and displayed during our interview I f you look at my medication box, you see all those prescriptions in there. and equating her responsibilities to the role of nurse she listed the contents of the medicine box:
123 T and then you put it in this end tibiotics oh! And [medicine inaudible] for their you know, the pedialyte everything. Ice got everything, the juice box. on the photographs she had taken to depict these details. She explained her motivations for pho tographing the images from her daily life as a parent during deployment: You basically have an idea of what I deal with, as far as the toys and the books and the like, I was trying to imagine what most women would t ake pictures of, my laundry pile, or the pots steaming on the you generic pictures. I wanted to give you things that were part of the real life, what we do every single day. A gnes summarized her feelings about parenting in the context of deployment: known since to be gone so much. Throughout her typical day, recalling s physically present crept into the routi nes particularly when it was apparent to Agnes that filling bot h role responsibilities required That general, wordless kn owing of the pile of crayons encountered as being parent takes on a different slant when the being parent is considered within the context of deployment. Fulfilling the dual responsibility of existing as both the mom and the dad comes with its challenges, according to Agnes, because there is double the work. During our dialogue about the routine s in which Agnes carried out her
124 24/7 role, she responded to the challenges she encountered as she attempted to carry out parenting responsibilities alone: Specifically, she shared how being a parent 24/7 to two young children conflicts with her e somebody are ill: boogi The exhau stion felt by Agnes as she tackled the task of caring for her ill daughter and tried to maintain routines alone manifested as forgetfulness, as was evident as she described her s recent illness: then you blink it in your eye real quick to do it this morning, because I was trying to get her to school so I can get that done Her own recent illness made it difficult for Agnes to stay caught up with the household responsibilities. As we spoke during one interview, Agnes folded laundry. She expanded on her And Hence the laundry that I am currently folding. The rows of disassembled and cleaned bottles
125 drying on the counter as illustrated in Figure 4 4 convey the repetitive and time consuming nature of th e household chores she comp leted alone as a parent during deployment. Figure 4 4. Clean baby bottles drying on the counter. At times, Agnes experienced the number of responsibilities outweigh ed the time she had available to complete all the c hores by herself. running out of clean towels in the home: catching up with yourself, and when you do the laun dry, I focus on the clothes. I For Agnes, prioritization involves not only the clothes when she does laundry, but s pecifically
126 Priorit izing in this context also meant t hat some tasks were passed over. Agnes pointed to the stack of DVDs across from us in the living room and said, Th and through her reflections she explained how this is experienced in her role. She said, house used to always be clean and I see the dust and I see the dribble from whatever and I just get like, but I have to let it go becau Agnes ids my house was immaculate. I used to The photograph seen in Figure 4 that she recorded when she took the picture. The emotions and descriptions Agnes attached to elaborated on this photograph: body running up to ng She reiterated how difficult it was to monitor her children and attempt to do household tasks such as vacuuming, a t the same time a nd how she had reconciled this. She said, ago. So, you know, it takes a lot because I have a bad back, and then I have to
127 t have him sleeping when I do no way. So I said forget it. Agnes elaborated on her experiences of trying to accomplish tasks and attend to all needs as she parented alo ne in the context of deployment. She explained that she must wait until both children are asleep before she can attend to the family dog, which had proven difficult at times. Agnes reflected on such instances, and explained her concerns that arose as a r esult of carrying out the tasks alone: Because we have a little thing we have an alarm o n the house, so every time you She further take Indy this morning because Adam was still asleep and I had to get her ready to go to early school. So yeah, my poor dog times when her spouse is physically present. him. In our dialogue about her role as p arent 24/7, she further explained how taking on additional tasks during deployment can result in not getting around to all of her responsibilities, including walking the dog. er option. And everything is on your shoulders, Indy would have been walked this morning, if
128 see, I woke up this morning at 6:30 so I could take him out. But ake him. Figure 4 5. The broken picture. Other tasks, such as planning upcoming events for the family to take place when Joe returns from depl oyment, were another facet of deployment. She described how she a ttempted to accomplish such tasks during the day when her children are taking naps. But this did not always go as planned, as Agnes explai ned as she discussed Figure 4 5 (The broken picture). She described the situation and the e mo tions she felt as she a ttempted to plan a family vacation : Mary was supposed to be takin Well, I hear this trying to get all the stuff together for when Daddy comes home
129 I hear this beca picture has a boo b isney World, by the way. T asked with the responsibility of cleaning up the broken glass alone, she attempted to find a way to keep her daughter occupied until she finished I wa s in there trying to clean it up, I should be watching. She described the way in which this created additional ongoing work, all the glass cleaned up: or is that there with a damp washcloth or a paper towel. Agnes elaborated on the responsibilities of her role as parent 24/7, and related that in toys into the house, anticipating what this would mean for her role during deployment. wants to go and take her to what Mary calls The Elmo Store. That would be Toys no, no. Honey, she doe
130 Agnes summarized her frustrations about having to assume the position of discouraging The lived space of the home in this context was further described by Agnes. She elaborated on how this compounded her sense of feeling overwhelmed in her role during deployment: e that office a play room room, and they were in this ottoman, and they were all over the family r oom, and I was ready to hang myself. Because when they were in the ottoman, they were just too much. such as clothes for the children. She explained that this happened frequently, and often in place of the intangible support such as child care that s he desired to ease her sense of feeling overwhelmed during deployment. with all this crap t in the end. Making more things for me to have to clean up, making more things just stop giving me clothes. Be clothes that I have to wash for the kids, and plus I still have to wash clothes for me, and towels towels! As Agnes described her experiences in this context, she tempered her declarations of frustration with the acknowledgement that others do not really understand her situation as parent an eye or about what we do. ow I
131 glimpsed the experiences of what her role en tails when her responsibilities are doubled. since October he just got a new job and he had a stroke right there. He was only there for three days and he had a stroke. So his wife is a drug not an easy process either. So, he wants to work, but here he is, he got a brand new an he can actually accomplish something that he wants to get done. And he said, Because he used to walk in here with his son and tease me that the house would be a mess. Figure 4 6. The responsibilities Agnes fulfilled in her role also colored her perceptions as she (Figure 4 6) was taken by Agnes one day
132 on an outing with her children to a local festival. At the time, she explained that she liked the way the rows of hats were neatly laid out on tables and the excitement Mary had expressed about seeing them. It was a lot of fun, and it was as close as I could come to a fair, and she had a fun the way that they were stacked, it just looked pretty As we dialogued about her responsibilities during dep loyment, h owever, the They had the boxes sitting all the way up, and to be the one to take them all out and put them back g them away. In our discussions, Agnes often concluded her described experiences with a conceded acceptanc e of the responsibilities in her role as parent 24/7 within her present context in relation to her interest in the future, the towards which of her s a parent, you do what you have to do. You know how it is up with the ongoing demands of fulfilling both roles, she pi cked up on this trend. a caffeine kick and ou She concluded that she would prefer to avoid having to rely on caffeine to make it
133 there. But you gotta do the best you can. During the day when the children are awake an they play. out into her lived space is the focus of Figure 4 7 ave been during their sick time, and just having a play day and just go and play and do your thing. But I just had Figure 4 7
134 As she considered this photograph, she explained further, I just, I was just probably really tired. I think that might have been during their sick time, and just having a play day and just go and play and do your thing. But I just had my feet up. As Agnes related this experience and desc ribed other instances of attempting to find space for personal time away from the responsibilities of parenting during deployment, it became a pparent how difficult it is to find this time for herself. done, she said. my hair. Now I just put a little bit of spritz in She contrasted her situation to that of other parents she has observed when she had taken Mary to school in the mornings, notin g, their hair and their jewelry and their clothes and whatever, and you see their kids went to school looking so cute this morning. She was. There was a she was to wear this shirt look how wrinkled it is from sitting on the thank goodness I have the wrin kle spray. Beyond having time to recooperate during the day, Agnes elaborated on not being able to find time to do other things, such as take a shower, while also needing to supervise her two young children The photograph that depicts her daughter throug h the shower door (Figure 4 8 ) captured this experi to take my shower with her. Or I have to get up earlier than her to take a shower, which I took one last night so I said for
135 Figure 4 8 The descriptions Agnes supplied on the corresponding photograph information sheet w on these notations during the interview. much what that one sums up, is that mommy, without daddy or the bathtub. And because our bathroom bumps up to her room, if she goes to bed at like, there are Agnes shared that the challenges of taking a shower while she is parenting alone is not
136 going to leave the kids and go in the sho wer? to find a solution in these situations. that so um, you know I just an hour and supposed to. Last night, she went to bed on time. I jumped in the shower jumped in immediately, and I She noted, however, that waiting until the children are asleep presents challenges for her as well. Agnes described what had happened recently in order to illustrate her role in this context. A s soon as I stepped out, the foo t hit that mat, Adam woke up. I always say to Joe, when he was home, they know when my head hits the pillow. Because we have actually can see them. As soon as my head to uches that pillow, I see Cari ng for others before herself had exacerbated her stress, which she related to recently exp eriencing feeling depressed. She acknowledged that feeling such effects in her role was gone Agnes related a time when her level of stress became apparent I had a nurse come over the other day she checks on me every month, because I needed her. Addressing her men tal health needs had been difficult to accomplish, because accessing services depended on an availabili ty of child care.
137 Agnes often turned to friends for assistance with child care, but she explained her hesitations to ask friends in this type of situation babysitti For getting other health needs met, such as g oing to the dentist, Agnes opted to bring her s office. She described how she experienced her role in this situation as she reflected on the reactions of others to her son being present : at home mommy. I have nobody to Agnes connected her experiences of being the in the role of sole caretaker to the effect this has on her ability to take care of her health. She reflected on the recent w eeks of the present During that She noticed, however, that she was in the midst of a repeating pattern of illness. She said, have coughing fits on medicine. Ultima tely, Agnes resorted to waiting until the end of t he night after her children had gone to bed to unwind from her responsibilities. But, she reiterated the difficulties that she encountered in such situations, and how she attempted to cope. She mentioned,
138 Somebo dy will wake Agnes sometimes attempted to use the time she had to herself at the end of the night to finish household tasks, but reflected on how she perceived her role in these instances. She described her thoughts that arose about her situation. sit there and As a parent of two young children, she explained that vaca responsib child care. She explained, week, once a month. You know, I get them on Agnes conveyed that at times during interactions with her deployed husband, she perceived that he was unaware of how she e xperienced her parenting role within the context of emphasized her how she experienced her role as parent 24/7. She remembered a discussion that transpired earli Oh, but you went on vacation with your si Yeah, we went to Disney World, but Agnes continued to elabo fulfilling both roles could instead be found in independent outings, such as trips to the grocery disc obvious,
139 outings could offer respite but required that someone else cared for the two children. She expanded, At times, Agnes used quiet moments in the car to retreat into her thoughts. She road (Figure 4 9 her understanding of the moment depicted in the photograph. by yourself, because us ually Adam falls asleep on the way home. And it just feels like the loneliest drive. And I do a lot of my thinking so I think about which this all changes. Now my thoughts are all going to go in a different direction when I drive her to school on Monday
140 Figure 4 9 She explained that usually, her thoughts often turned to the future and she looked forward a long stretch of the path she appointment. She elaborated, hool by a way, then I have to come all the way back this way, go past the house, and go back that way. Um, basically going in completely opposite directions just so t have to have her with me for the visit.
141 As she reflected on this drive, she considered her role as parent 24/7 In the detailed description below, she traced the usual flow of her thoughts which oscillated between looking forward to his retur n and the preparations she needed to accomplish. all through my checklist of what needs to get done, besides the regular routine of cleaning, like, I just did this (points to laundry on sofa) but this has been here three or four But if Daddy home with Adam. Overwhelmed and Reaching Out N ot having enough time to fulfill her dual responsibilities and the resultant inability to find moments to recooperate were frequently conveyed in Agnes lived experiences. When Agnes perceived her role as par Secondary descriptions Agnes recorded on her photograph information sheets about photographs took s uch pictures. T he weight of her role in this context parallels the stressors as labeled in the family stress model, which is attributed to difficulties in maintaining equilibrium within the family system during deployment. As Agnes re As she discussed a
142 situation in which she felt overwhelmed having to drop Mary off at school and then take Adam ted the mural in the waiting room (seen below in Figure 4 10 ), s he contrasted this to times when Joe is home from a deployment and she could attempt to cope with her me a favor and drop Figure 4 10. ing responsibilities and a shortage of personal time to re energize caused Agnes to experience role overload during deployment. Agnes reflected on her ability to manage the responsibilities of her role as parent in this context, and explored the ways in w hich overload has impacted her
143 responses to stressors. She reflected on her recent experience with feeling overwhelmed at the end of the night: I turned into psycho mommy the other night because mommy has some depression, with all of everything going on, and I just out of nowhere no, she pulled According to family stress theory, t he pile up effect of stressors described by Agnes in such instances can be mitigated, however, with the ability to access external support systems. When she Agnes explained that she often reaches out to others for help. As she related how her frustration in the above situation became overwhelming, Agnes explained that she reached out for help by calling her sister wh o lives in another state: I had her on the phone and I said I was shaking, I was literally shaking. Why I was so angry ep, I was he were home. She recognized how such parenting experiences are different than when she is able to share her role responsibilities. She considered coping with stress in her experiences as parent 24/7 during deployment, and acknowledged these are the moments that I miss [my husband] because I cou ld just walk away, able to just go outside, take the dog and just go for a walk and get over it. Bu
144 She perceived, however, that instances when she and her children were ill presented a barrier to asking family members, such as grandparents, for assistance. She explain elaborated on feeli ng stretched beyond her abilities to cope alone in such situations : T you just sit there and cry bec deployment, which was connected to her experiences in her rol e as parent 24/7. just that thing, because that would cover all of my complaints, really. Just having to be that. Ever. At times, the forestructures of understanding that surrounded he r role within this context brought her experiences of being a parent 24/7 into sharper focus, often imbued with negative emotions such as frustration or anger directed at t he context. She elaborated on the compounded stress she experienced in her role: because she wa s a year and a half, so she was starting to show her side of being two at that point. I was going a little bit crazy and very stressed out with knowing that thing. So all these little things. My father being sick, my sister had an accident, it just ma de it a lot harder.
145 be come a mantra that Agnes repeated and whi ch manifested in what she described as just have to pull strength from somewhere. this mantra to her spouse. She described a recent interaction, re calling that think you know, everything that upsets me just gets me. Agnes revealed that managing a busy schedul e while parenting alone during deployment created a paradox in which there was the potential for role overload but distraction from ruminating about her role as parent 24/7. She explained that she sometimes welcomed a busy day, because she benefitted fro m not being able to ruminate on her situation. She took on responsibilities at times ng to be on something else. Yesterday, the spa really busy week, as a matter of fact. I thinking about it right now have these kind of weeks. Although she perceived the role reorganizations and boundaries to be clear in such moments, Agnes admitted that she often looked forward to relinquishing responsibili ties back to Joe when he returned from deployment. At the beginning of the present deployment, there had been a set time in the future that s he could anticipate a release back into shared parenting time of this study, Agnes described how this news was received as she consi dered her role as parent 24/7:
146 I was really looking forward to daddy coming home, honest to god. I was looking forward to maybe sleeping in a little bit in the morning. I was looking forward to spending really am. Because had to do the deep breath thing, because and I called my father immediately, (Long pause. Listening to see if Adam is awake from his nap.) So anyway, I was looking forward to him coming home to be with the kids, and she misses daddy so much. Agnes considered how the extended deployment meant delayi ng the time they could share together as a family. She I can go out with my kids, and I can have a nice yeah, fighting back Speaking through her sadness, she reflected on her experiences growing up in a family where a member was frequently absent and contrasted this to her desires for her own family. As she explained her ideal situation, she compared her situation home. I want my kids to have a normal what I envision as being a normal family life. I would like my husband to come home from wor k at night and sit down with us for dinner. I would like for my husband to not have to work on Saturday and family? Do you want to go to the park? Do you want to go fly a kit e? Do you want to go to the pool? Or just hang out at home and read books and be silly we go ou yeah. To wa tch other families go out and what I perceive to be as happy, fluffy,
147 feel like I have to be the mommy and the daddy, and the entertainer. Although the pa renting role reorganizations have become normalized within her understanding of her situation, her a ssumed identity as single mom was not always shared by others. Agnes reflected on a recent online encounter with someone outside her family system: Recently on Facebook, I had somebody single mom. And then he had to ll you want, but for Agnes voiced that she saw others external to her family contex t struggle to comprehend how her family sy stem functioned dur ing deployment. She experienced some exchanges with physical absence. mo st of the have think. And you always have to explain yourself. Why should I have to explain myself? in on a base that was just bombed.
148 Du ring further discussion ns of her situation Agnes considered the school party she was scheduled to attend later that day. She anticipated how other parents woul d react to her attendance at this event in the middle of recovering from an illness : sorry. Through the Window The continuity of established routines that in the role of parent 24/7 transformed into different role reorganizations when communication between spouses took place during deployment and the absent spouse partially re entered the family system. During those moments of contact, Agnes perceived her deployed spouse to be and fully there for them as family, people find i ambiguity encountered by Agnes in this context had specific implications for maintai ning clear role reorganization. Agnes described how communication varied in frequency, purpose, and quality during deploymen t, but in effect created an overall confused picture of the parenting roles spouse was partially present as a co parent during Skype or telephone communication. Boss the system reorganized regarding (a) who performs what roles and tasks, and (b) how family
149 The collection of showed how these interactions function not unlike a window during deploy ment. At times communication was open and boundaries were clear, as Agnes and Joe maintain ed contact in order to ch eck in on one another throughout deployment. Agnes also reflected on times when details about their separate worlds were not shared, and in these instances communication was perceived as closed. Op acity about role reorganization resulted as Agnes and Joe negotiate d parenting roles over Skype or the telephone, as well as when they sense d fear for safety. There are times when communication was c ut off in scary ways, and she became drawn into uncertainty about how he was present in the family s ystem Interestingly, she also perceiv ed that he experienced ole from the opposite direction. The overall sense, however, was that the wind ow situated the parents in two worlds which Agnes felt neit her fully understand. Ultimately, c ontact during deployment, such as through Skype, Facebook, and te lephone communications, disrupted there as parents, in this encounter with boundary ambiguity, w as blurred. This was considered in light of s a parent when they are able to communicate during a deployment, particularly in the ca pacity of enforcing discipline. Significant to this theme, she indicated that as disciplinary um yes, he can the kids or whatever, but the important things like being a disciplinarian. Being there emotionally for the children I think is important, and thankfully we have Skype, because I think
150 that he can portray through that media. The uncertainty regarding how he is psychologically present thus affected the parenting role reorganization s in ways that are distinct from the clarified within the subsections bel Missing Home In her responses to the demographic questionnaire, Agnes indicated that the family is often able to communicate with Joe during deployment. During our interviews, Agnes reflected on how the modes of communi cation had changed over the course of repeated deployments. She stated that communication via Skype during deployments began after Mary was born. This window into home life has allowed him to be present in their lives in the moment. When they plants. The lives of the children have unfolded for her deployed husban d through this window. Agnes shared that Mary has grown up with daddy on Skype. Agnes described how Mary actively engages her father through Skype: morning, she was playing w ith her VTech and she took a picture of him Agnes speculated that for their so n Adam, who was 8 months old at the time of the photo Agnes indicated that this may soon change, however, because he had begun to recognize his daddy when he sees him on the computer screen. She described recent Skype interactions, the ability to communicate through Skype has given both children an opportunity to know their
151 In this family system, family holidays are sometimes commemorated and co nducted through the window during deployment. Agnes reflected on how a recent commemoration of do you want to wait until you come was in was attacked. During the third interview, I was invite d to view what Joe had seen as a video. Agnes reflected as much in my reaction while viewing it in person. Agnes acknowledged my reaction, because I but I was expecting more of a reaction like what you just gave me. And he was At other times, the window into home life has been closed by him. The perception Agnes want to be homesick. She circled back on her past attempts to send him mementos from home in an effort to make sense of disengagement: I used to spray paper with my perfume on it, h
152 because I think with him, he feels more homesick to get the things. Agnes described not only confusion about the shifts in participation in family life, but also how lack of communication contributes to role confusion. During the study Agnes experienced fluctuations in the frequency of communication with Joe. The frequency of Skype communication, however, had recently been sporadic. Agnes explained, We both seem to be really busy recently, him with being in different areas of Afghan Exchanging Parenting Cues Boss (2006) noted that ambiguity about how a member is present in the family has an The more obvious physical structure often Although Joe was able to perio dically communicate and interact with the other family members, he remained physically absent. This contradiction between physical structure and the psychological construction of the context by Agnes reflected the tension predicted by Boss (2006). A parti cular dimension of the transactional patterns that unfolded through communication concerned the parenting activity of discipline. Agnes expressed how she felt the parenting roles s hould be organized when they were able to communicate as a family. To reit erate, she stated I feel like his responsibilities are just as much as my responsibilities, even though happen here. During these instanc es of communication, Agnes he ld Joe psychologically present in his role as parent, and p erceived him to be available to share in the particular responsibilities of parenting. She provided an example of how she reaches out to him with these role expectations in mind:
153 And there are ti if she does something mean, lik assistance with discipline had frequently gone unfulfilled, and she herself directing him about how to enforce discipline through Skype as in the following example: you have the la la la la voice. You have to have some kind of stern tone to your voice. Together, Agnes and I explored how she and Joe have attempted to clarify the role reorganization that occurred when they were able to communicate through Skype. Agnes Agnes made sense of this confusion about role responsibilities through her perception enting in these instances were characterized by role tension as she attempted to clarify her expectations with Joe, stating to him, which of re lationships with her children was reflected in her concerns. Agnes vocalized her w o rries through the concern that [Mary] is always going to
154 In the present, where Agnes experienced the tension of ambiguity i n these situations, her role was Althoug h partaking in communication had constructions of her family, the being there of parenting was perceived to be only partially filled b y Joe. This partial presence was, in other words, ambiguous. Agnes deconstructed her understanding of the roles during moments of contact, reconciling with the ambiguity: So I think that his roles are still just as important as far as disciplinary um yes, he whatever, but the important th ings like being a disciplinarian. Being there emotionally for the children I think is important, and thankfully we have Skype, because I think that he can portray through that media. rstanding of the uncertainty, speculating e he has to be a dad, he just needs to be a bank. Scary for Her Despite the availability and frequency of communication, Agnes related that uncertainty because we uncertainty about how the f amily was psychologically constructed in these moments, Agnes reflected on how access to information about his world has changed over time, shifting from
155 open sharing to more guarded and closed communication about events. It was from the latter a recent dialogue between she and her deployed husband, which depicted her perception of this shift. Since he went to Iraq in 2008 things have just gotten progressively worse with that, his mother that a helicopter he was supposed to be on was blown up with a missile. what meant that a missile came and blew the thing up when you were supposed to be on Once during the course of this study, Agnes had been speaking over Skype (sound only) with Joe, when their communication became suddenly closed for a different reason. She was visibly distraught and the cadence of her voi ce increased as she recalled the call : I was on Skype with him (tearfully) And all of a sudden he says with the kids. All of a sudden I his video because we were having video issues that day, because [base location] So we just could talk to each other. But you sirens. Loud as hell, I hear the sirens. And my heart went, bl his mom, she should know. Agnes described how she experienced the moments following the sudden termination of their conversation. She remembered, us, he can be response back from him on Skype, I was in panic mode. And what was I doing, I
156 Although she later learned that Joe was safe and unharmed, the not knowing that resulted from sudden closed communication elevated her fear to panic She then elaborated on the transaction that transpired a few days later. Agnes explored how she perceived her level of concern after this incident incongruent wit h that of her spouse: ids having a crrrrrrr and then I heard footsteps running away ng (Long pause.) he would be safe in Kabul at that time, despite having once proven unsafe. Agnes explained, At times, Agnes turned to social media as an outlet for processi ng scary events, som etimes immediately after experiences described above She explained the tensions of emotions she experienced after she posted a news item up there for two hours, and it was off. Because I rea method of coping sometimes created tension which became apparent to her on ce contact was made after the incident She remembered: een some things on the internet about the area he was in and I copy and pasted the story
157 about another man who had mentioned that it was the worst place it is actually lik In addition to describing fear for he Agnes also confided that concerns for safety also involve d her responsibilities of caring for the young children alone at home and uncertainty about how she would contact Joe if an emergen cy happened at home. Figure 4 11 which depicts her daughter Mary climbing to reach an object out of reach, prompte d Agnes to expand on what she perceived as scary as she carried out the responsibilities of parenting alone waiting for her to at some point have a great fall like Humpty Dumpty and have a broken arm, Figure 4 11
158 for her sick children. She expressed deployment, noting Because with his eczem Prior to our first meeting, I had bee n approaching ambiguity from one direction. The forestructures of my theory based understandings of boundary ambiguity had focused my attention on the experiences of one parent. As we dialogued about ambiguity and family boundaries, Agnes challenged the preconception that I had held by explaining that as she perceived it, the unknown goes both ways. She elaborated on how she understood the phenomenon as bi directional: head, are the kids ok, is everything ok at away. Scary for Him The bi directional experience of ambiguity, o per ceived by Agnes as she interacted with Joe during deployment. As she described their fear s concerning the safety of his family at home. She noticed that Joe sometimes made contact with her to check in if he perceived something was amiss at home. She explained, been moving around a lot. I spoke to him on the phone yesterday, and he just wanted to know that we were all ok because I had posted something on Facebook about mommies sometimes need a time out too. This was about my meltdown the other night.
159 Agnes men tioned that online monitoring of home life (th rough social media or email) concern for her and the children, leading him to initiate communication to make sure everyth ing is alright. When concern was triggered a bout family life, Agn es to return home. Agnes elaborated further: something bad is I hate to say Figure 4 12 Agnes perceived particularly heightened when the children were sick, and this initiated ambiguity surrounding parenting roles in this context. She discussed the h otograph e 4 12 ). And when you look at his eyes when he has a bad flare that particular flare up was when he was sick on top of it, and he was just all r ed and crusty on his eyes. It was the saddest thing.
160 Agnes experienced ome and related how she attempted to take care of the situation on her own during deployment. She described how she perceived es a lot I can do for him. The medic not going to give him those medications. Agnes related other examples of communication that have transpired i n which she and her spouse attempted to negotiate co parenting during deployment She said, ow many times The fear that Agnes perceived Joe to experience in h i s role as concerned parent lead to tension and confusion about how parenting roles were to be enacted in such a situation She explained, you Agnes reflected on an incident in which Mary was accidentally bitten while petting a gnes felt that she managed the situation as best as she could, she still attempted to keep her husband informed about what had happened while he was deployed. She explained, however, that his reaction was not what she had anticipated and how this related to her role during deployment. e would ever know on I work my
161 As she explored this interaction, Agnes discussed the ways she has attempted to negotiate co parenting during d eployment. She emphasized a desire to share parenting responsibilities, and how she incorporated this into her role. to compromise and you want to do things together. So that in my mind was doing Despite her attempts, Agne s related that further communication about carrying out co parenting responsibilities often does not occur. When asked if she shared the ways she attempted reach a No, because if I had even brought it up again, he would have started arguing with me. He would have found a reason avoiding the confrontation with him. As Agnes explored such examples of attempts at co parenting experiences during deployment, she expanded on the impact she perceived that this has had on their relationship. She reflected on the emotions she experienced, noting I know Joe and I are in there somewhere. But because we live such separate lives, we have parenting when a spouse is deployed are distinct from the interactions that occur in other families.
162 I have to argue with him over the phone or through an perceived this to extend to others who have observed these patter ns, such as her sister in law. She elaborated on her thought processes that have emerged from her beliefs related to her experiences of parenting during deployment. She said, Sometimes in my own head I blame myself for that, for her not wanting kids. B ecause I think that sometimes after she sees Joe and I after having our kids, when we just started falling apart, because you become different people with h Other examples of co parenting inter actions that occurred during deployment were 13 She expanded on the ways in which parenting decisions were not always shared, and speculated about how her decisions w ould be perceived by her deployed spouse. probably thinking of how he thinks, he would probably say something along the lines going to encourage this tattoo freebird, I guess.
163 Figure 4 13 ary tattoo. Within instances where she is tasked with making decisions alone as a parent she related the ways in which conflict arose in their interactions. She described how she explained her decision And h e gets for myself. And if this i
164 Figure 4 14 Agnes extended this discussion about co parenting experiences as she explained the phot 14 Joe hates, hates when Mary plays with th knocked into her head, and she had a scratch Wov en throughout Agn was the inescapable reality of the two worlds that they have come to inhabit during deployment. In some
165 ways, repeated deployments have made these two worl ds more apparent and solidified t o Agnes. Th e perception of inhabiting two different worlds had led to differences in understanding She further explained, He has his moments. And I go back trauma stressful, for me as well. You know, the families can have the same diagnosis even not being over there. Agnes reflected on the way sh e perceived repeated absences have additionally impact ed the way he understands his role in the family when he re entered the family context that she experienced as a parent while they were separated during deployment understand. When he comes home, he will eith er treat her, and not so much him understand. Agnes summarized the ways in which inhabiting two different worlds impacted the ability to establish common goals for parent ing She explained that they have attempted
166 discussions about co parenting responsibilities that transpired during deployment, noting her pe rceived role responsibilities: to be paren ts. About are we on the same page. Are we doing things the way we momma bear now. He told me when I had Mary, I stepped off the plank and never that I want my children to be successful, I want them to be happy and well taken sacrifice your life, honestly. But, you have th at staring you in the face every single Missed Moments De spite the perception that Joe was partially able to participate in family lif e through Skype and telephone communication, the bulk of significant events of the family transpire d in the midst of everydayness regardless of his absence. As a parent, Agnes reported experiencing the developmental events of her family context with conflicting emotions in her role as par ent. On the one hand, she expressed feeling pride and validation by the investments she perceived that she made Howev er, she also experienced sadness that Joe was missing out on so much. As a result, to incorporate her desire to preserve and curate important family milestones t o share with Joe when he returned home. This role reorgan ization reflected to the family context following deployment Regardless of her anticipation of the eventual return of Joe to h is role as a parent when he would be physically present, Agn es experienced ambiguity about role reorganizations, particularly concerning what she described as the delivery of direct and indirect investme nts.
167 Thus, although Agnes held Joe psychologically present as a member of the family in the sense that his retur n was anticipated she sensed th at investments in the family were made in different ways. Moreover, she experienced parenting in this sense within an ongoing forward progression, which she contrasted frozen in ti me. Curating family events beca me another function of her parenting role, but as she explained, there were some t hings that defied transmittal through modes of communication they used during deployment The parenting experiences in this sens e were thus marked by what Agnes described All The Little Things experiences during deployment. She explained the significance of these moments to her r ole as a eet (Figure 4 15 ). She
168 Figure 4 15 As she watched her infant playing, she could see that he was beginning to explore the use of his legs and feet. She explained, normal day of just playing with him and just kind of trying something new. While Agnes d escribed this photograph, Adam was playing on the floor in front of us. She iggest thing. Momen ts like He misses out on all of it.
169 This sentiment emerged again when Agnes reflected on other moments when she was present to witness her children doing something for the first time. She expressed pride as she explained the My Little Artist (Figure 4 16 I like that one a lot. She her new thing, the last couple of months, has been wanted to paint. So this might hav e been the first time I let her do it. And this was her first result, this pretty art. I just liked how the paint strokes went and liked the colors that she used, the pink with the purple. Figure 4 16. She elaborated on the sign ificance of being able to be present for such moments, remembering what made it distinct. was fun to watch her actually take the water and watch where the colors go, because you can spread it around the more water you put on. So that was really fun to wat ch her. She was really into it and she was singing.
170 her (inau dible) with something. She reiterated how she understood these moments and labeled As she described another photograph ( Figure 4 17 that th e experience she had captured added to the catalogue of missed moments. there the Easter one. But Figure 4 17.
171 Agnes described other situations, such as driving Mary to school and observing her in the classroom, whi go in and see how She summarized how she experienced parenting in these moments, and described the conflicting emotions she experienced about not being able to share these lived experiences directly with her husband. s a proud moment me The sadness Agnes experienced in regard to t he missed moments was at times tempered by the somethi ng As she explored the emotional components associated with these experiences, I suggested that the ways in which she fulfilled her role responsibili ties as a parent in this context seemed like investments that had a purpose Agnes merged her understanding with my own, saying, It is an investment. Because as a parent as a single parent, basically you do invest all of your time or as much time as you possibly can give your child, to their progress. You want them to succeed in life, and this is the first step to succeeding in life. I want my children to be happy
172 f said. She explained how she understood the differences between the types of investments she perceived to occur within the family system, best investment I could ever make is my children. He is making an investment in Figure 4 18 An example of how Agnes invests in her children was provided as she described her BCmouse.com, please! (Figure 4 18 the computer s Mary asked to go on her favorite site. She is point Agnes had recorded ride in
173 how your child and ho just mentioned during the interview. Additionally, she noted She elaborated, s a desire to in his own way, but just having another child i The accumulated structures of missed moments also impacted the family transactional patterns when her deployed spouse returned home. Agnes reflected on her struggles to emphasize the importance of being there as a physically present parent, in order to avoid missing out on the moments she considered significant. She related that she explained this to her spouse because he likes to tinker, with his toys or he has cars awake, you Agnes perceived that the accumulated missed moments have led her husband to want to enlarge the family system, which she feels he believed would allow him to experience the He keeps telling me he wants a third
174 child because he wants to be there for a reason to have She elaborated and related to how she has experienced her role as a parent during his absence. Agnes s This recognition was further expanded upon as she stated, I think the fact that he wants a third child just so that he can be there for those ave to continuously volunteer to be torn away from your family. the time of the study, the subject of the picture (Figure 4 19) experienc es of missed moments to a metaphorical level. Immediately prior to discussing this photograph, we stepped out onto her patio and she discovered that the nest had fallen out of the tree. This was emotional for Agnes, and when we returned after some time t o the interview, she introduced the photograph. She said, Now, as far as the birdie picture goes, that for me I know this is going to sound probably the hardest one I hate how they look but
175 Figure 4 19 She explained how prior to the interview, she had attempted to share this with Joe. She So yea nest, I was so pro She explained the t itle of the photograph, and elaborated on the significance this held for her understandings about her experiences as a parent during deployment. The following segment from our interview traced her perceptions. parents. I mean, I watched the birds And I went and looked, and it was I was just so excited because this is
176 And now we have no babies in it because of a stupid k itty cat. Bad cat. So now try to save the birdies. Because that makes me very sad. That birdie has to live. That mommy and daddy birdie, they worked so hard, they worked so h ard, and it breaks my heart because they were really diligent. That storm came through, that mommy bird did not move a muscle. And that daddy bird would come back and bring worms, go back out, come back, bring worms, go back out. It was the most beautif ul thing. And you learn so much from these wild animals about being a jealous of my friends. I watch them on the weekends pack their bags, get in their car and go away for the weekend. Or pack their picnic basket and go out for the one. Frozen Understandings As Agnes shared her lived experiences of parenting during deployment, the dialogue frequently turned to those moments she has shared alone with her children. In reflections on these moments, she noted their collective significan ce in terms of validating her role as a parent but was saddened that Joe was missing out on such experiences as a parent. Such remarks by absent, human beings experiences. Whatever their physical relationship, they are no longer separate in the Agnes experienced her role as being present to wit ness the unfolding development of progress when he returned home from d psychological family shores up resiliency as long as people are not frozen in place and can move
177 forward in th eir present life setting, interacting with the family members who are physically Agnes explained that moments of play that she engaged in with her children, such as that depicted in Figure 4 20 about things such as injuries to subside. These kinds of play that Agnes engaged in with the children she perceived to be Figure 4 20 She shared what she perceived her spouse to have missed as a parent in these moments of play, and she understood this to have an impact on his role as a parent when he returned from deployment. paranoid. O r
178 if he saw how I was playing with Adam yesterday, he would have had a heart attack. A Curated Existence Throughout our conversations, Agnes reflected on her efforts to preserve those moments in order to share as much as she could with Joe when he returned from deployment. In some cases, she was able to share these recorded memories through Skype communication, such as by descriptions that d epicted these experiences have negative effects if li reflections the ways her curated memories func tioned to preserve her perceptions of her psychological family At times, Agnes was able to capture spontaneous moments in photographs which she then sent to Joe. She described the moment and what transpired between her and Joe after he received the photograph. Sitting in the shopping cart we went to the grocery store yesterday, and I took a picture, sitting in the shopping cart all by himself. And being happy. That was Other times, memo ries are preserved in the form of videos. Agnes elaborated, mentioning one camera, which is right there I always have my phone. Um, Adam was in the bathtu b for the first time, and he was splashing all by himself. And I took a video of it. felt it was important to record moments such as these for Joe.
179 Be able to do so many things with them. Going to the zoo, going to the park, going to the playgroun Agnes also explained the way in which holidays and observances are celebrated, such as e was deployed, but conveyed the difficulties she experienced and the emotions she perceived as she attempted to include him in the family during deployment. his military c Then I go, but it The photograph 4 21 below depicted anothe significant memories in tangible forms. She described the subject of the photograph and how she perceived the connections to her husband : And becaus e I have
180 Figure 4 21 Agnes explained that she has created similar mementos during previous deployments and expressed about the patio stone depicted in the phot I was just so excited to do it, because I wanted it to be at see that the things that I do, like the stones and the things like that, but Joe go back to this -i tch him put a new stone The moments that Agnes tried to preserve to share with Joe, however, often did no t convey the full exper ience. She remarked that there were intangible, emotional aspects of such
181 e there experienced as a parent in such situations: understand his feet a are I did something right as a parent to make my son able to do this. Agnes summarized her experiences as a parent in this context, and reflected on all the photographs we had discussed during this study. She concluded, And to reflect on the pictures, to sit back and think If I collectively put them all me sad that he akes me sad that She added, done in the this is life. And life is a beautiful thing.
182 CHAPTER 5 CONCLUSION S The family sy stem is impacted in a number of ways when a member is deployed for military service. The context of parenting during deployment is comprised of interactions and patterns, from which individual roles are derived from past experiences, informed by the prese nt situation, and extend into expectations about the future. Within this composite of lived experiences, phenomena such as boundary ambiguity are encountered. According to family systems theory, roles become reorganized within the family context to accom modate separation of the family context may become ambiguous for a number of reasons, particularly where parenting roles are concerned. Yet, little is known about how the non deployed parent experiences spouse absence and role reorganization within the context of parenting during deployment. Previous literature has focused primarily on the stressors of deployment and the resultant outcomes for children and spouses in military families, but systemic approaches have begun to explore the interactional connections between parent and child well being. The purpose of this study, therefore, was to gain a deeper understanding of the experiences of a parent within the context of the family system during deployment. This study employed a Heideggarian hermeneutic phenomenological approach to explore the context of a military family, within which the phenomenon of boundary ambiguity was encountered. To address gaps in un derstanding about parenting during deployment, this study was guided by a broad question: What is the nature of the lived experience of parenting during deployment, from the perspective of the non deployed parent? Derivative of the broad scope of lived ex periences during deployment, two specific sub questions addressed the context of parenting during deployment and the phenomenon of boundary ambiguity as it was encountered within this
183 particular context. First, to conceptualize the context of parenting du ring deployment, this study deployed parent describe her parenting experiences during How does a non deployed parent experience and understand boundary ambi guity as it relates to the parenting role during deployment Photographs and photo elicitation interviews yielded vivid descriptions about the context of parenting during deployment, and how boundary ambiguity was encountered by the participant. Role reo rganizations within this context were revealed to be in constant flux, shifting and changing based on perceptions of ambiguity encountered by the non deployed parent. Interpretative analysis of the photographs and interviews highlighted layers of understa nding that illustrate three such encounters with boundary ambiguity within the context of parenting during deployment. The goal of this chapter is to discuss the findings of this hermeneutic phenomenological study in relation to previous literature that ha s investigated the military family during deployment. The lived experiences of the parent in this study will be compared and contrasted to findings from other studies. Stressors, outcomes, and interactional patterns that have been the focus of previous s tudies are connected to and interpreted through the novel understandings generated by this study about boundary ambiguity encountered within the context of parenting during deployment. These expansions of understanding about the lived experiences of paren ting during deployment highlight important implications for policy and clinical practice, and recommendations and directions for future research are discussed. Findings and Interpretations Each of the three layers of understanding portrayed in C hapter 4 co ntain elements of parenting during deployment that both resonate with and challenge prior understandings. The
184 main findings of this study we re: First, ongoing encounters with boundary ambiguity vary in degrees of uncertainty about how the deployed member is present in the family system, particularly in relation parenting roles. The three layers of understanding depicted in C hapter 4 ed the ways in which Agnes encountered ambiguity during de ployment. At times, the role reorganization is clear but may be overwhelming as the non deployed parent fulfills both roles. At other times, uncertainty may result from attempts to establish parenting roles during brief periods of communication, or when s ignificant moments are missed by the absent parent. Second, each encounter with boundary ambiguity has implications for role reorganizations. Furthermore, it became apparent that communication during deployment renders ambiguity bi directional. Addition ally, perceptions of ambiguity in the military family system shift over the course of deployment. The increasing trend in multiple deployments endured by military families has led researchers to investigate whether number of deployments is related to incr eased stress for the non deployed parent. Burrell, Adams, Durand, and Castro (2006) suggested from their findings that rather than the number of deployments non deployed parents experienced, it was instead the perception of those separations that impacted functioning within the context of deployment. These findings corroborated previous evidence about the role of perception, and are congruent with Hill's (1949) and Boss's (1980; 1983; 2004) assertions that perception plays an important role in family stres stabilize over multiple deployments, and may thus serve to reduce fear and uncertainty about well being during separation (Burrell et al., 2006). s with repeated separations due to deployment confirmed the process of normalization of such events discussed by Burrell et al. (2006). As
185 with the participants in that study, Agnes related that her perception of deployment was scary at first, but the se parations became normalized within their family system over time. Approached from an understanding of boundary ambiguity, the role reorganizations that Agnes described further expand understanding about perception and the process of normalizing the absenc e of a in this way reduces ambiguity about who is present and how they are present within the family system in this context. Agnes emphasized that in her ro le as parent 24/7, she functioned t of deployment with a single parent identity. This perceived role reorganization also reflected findings from the Baptist et al. (2011) from having a co pare changes in household routines, roles, and responsibilities reported by all twenty six respondents in a Wood et al. (1995) study of families during deployment were similarly noted i experiences of deployment and her perceived role reorganizations. Results from qualitative interviews with non deployed caregivers indicated that over half s the deployed service member was normally responsible for, such as managing the household well, pretty much the main
186 responsibilities in her role as parent during deployment. Moreover, the expectation of increased role responsibilities and the adaptation to these 222). Agnes echoed this sense of resigned adaptation to fulfilling the responsibilities of both Redefining the b oundary from co parents to single parent involves establishing new underscored the importance of establishing and maintaining routines. However, her reflections highligh ted the way in which caring for young children influenced how these routines were maintained. Although the deployed spouse may be held psychologically present during a deployment, routines that become established at home may not be communicated or clarif ied until reunification with the family following the return from deployment As Faber et al. (2008) explained, deployments mean living without one another for extended periods of time, and individuals may become more closed in communicating thoughts and actions about daily activities and routines (Faber et al., 2008). During such absences, spouses in the study reported However, this may result in adjustment strain when spouses are reunited, where there is a transition from the closed communication system to an open communication system (Faber et al., 2008). This was reflected in the findings of an earlier s tudy by Wood et al. (1995), in which participants no
187 she had experienced corresponded to the adjustment strains noted by spo uses in Faber et al. (2008), specifically related to her own difficulties with adjustments in routines upon reunification after deployment. closeness with the children was a source of strength, and that having responsibility for the children would keep them from giving in to th e most immobilizing aspects of the loneliness. Yet, the strength found from the responsibilities of parenting may be compromised when o may lead to negative perceptions about parenting during deployment. Wood et al. (1995), for lities, F adapting and reorganizing to accommodate the absence of a membe r may impact functioning. As pertains to roles, overload may be perceived upon the accumulation of stresses related to carrying out the responsibilities of both parents. One particular stress related to this role overload that has been reported by spouse s concerns making decisions while a spouse is absent decisions af fecting the family. The decision In another study, w
188 As Agnes reflected on previous deployments, she related similar difficu lties. Although she felt confident in her ability to function independently in the decision making capacity during deployment, she also recalled choices and family r outine sometimes became sources of strain as the family adjusted to his return. Although a higher incidence of illness or health problems has been frequently observed among spouses during deployment, few studies have explored the way in which health proble ms may be closely connected to the stresses resulting from role overload. One exception was whether illness was a precursor to or consequence of separation anxi ety, we found that, as expected, the presence of illness or health problems was associated with low adjustment [to within a systemic view of the family, can be attributed to role o pouses tasked with dual role responsibilities as a parent during deployment often take care of others before they take care of themselves and role ov erload leads to the inability to find time to address personal health needs own health needs were often neglected as she attempted to care for her childre addition to her other responsibilities. This study, in contrast to previous survey based studies benefited from the exploration of result ed from lack of personal time and the la ck of understanding from those outside the family
189 system. This is particularly salient for younger families, where infants and toddlers require vigilant parental care. As interacting members of the family system, children also adapt and respond to changes in other members, such as parents. Responses observed in the literature have presented an array of behavioral and psychological symptoms, and also illustrated the way in which children may become emotional partners to the non deployed parent or fearful f or the safety of the deployed parent. Symptoms reported among children of deployed military personnel have included depression, acting out or negative behavioral adjustment, poor academic performance, and increased irritability and impulsiveness; tearfuln ess, increased discipline problems at home, and increased demands for attention (Grass, 2007). negative behavioral and psychological symptoms survey data has reported in other studies. This may be explained by age the majority of studies have used samples of children older than five years appear to react differently to paren were reflected in significantly lower reports of externalized [behavioral and psychological] symptoms (p. 1013). The authors hypothesized that attachment phases in these different developmental ages may attribute to the differences, in that older children may be more aware of the absence of their other parent. Agnes did note, however, that her two year old daughter detected her exhaustion at times, as when she was constantly yawning and Mary began sa ying, Although this was the only time Agnes indicated the way in which her children respond to the stresses she experienced, previous studies have discussed the ways in giv
190 Thus, children are impacted by these emotional changes that may occur in the family system during deployment: In one study, school staff noted that students with a particularly the case where caregivers reported or exhibited symptoms of depression (Chandra et al., 2009) or decreased coping with perceived stressors such as fe handling the day to s around to take back some during deployment. She expressed thinking about her hus daily routines, but noted the way in which news about his extended deployment disrupted this anticipation. Spouses who report feeling overwhelmed and other stressful emotions related to changes in household responsibili ties may turn to others outside the context for social support, the most commonly cited coping strategy in one study (Lara Cinisomo et al., 2010). Participants cited calling family and friends, by making use of instrumental support offered by family, frie nds, and neighbors, or using multiple strategies simultaneously to cope with the stresses associated with deployment ( Lara Cinisomo et al., 2010). endurance, and by being self Cinisomo et al. (2010), Agnes reached out to family members and friends during deployment when endurance and self sufficiency were strained in her role as single parent during deployment.
191 The importance of having access to a social support system during deployment has been highlighted by a number of studies. Westhuis et al. (2006) found that among a sample of someone has someone to listen to them at their current as assessed on a Daily Coping Scale assessment that included items related to role and household responsibilities (p. 594). Merolla (2010) found that received from family, friends, and community figures (e.g., church members) helps constructional nces The Wood et al. (1995) study suggested that new found independence during times of separation from deployed spouses actually allowed the freedom to find new friends, and FSGs were frequently cited as sites of new friendsh ips. Spouses even reported that they were concerned that they would lose these friendships when husbands returned from deployment. However, not be aware of resources that are available to them and/or may feel these resources are explanat ion: that support might perhaps be available and adequate, but the ability to access them while caring for two young children is exceedingly difficult. The second theme encompassed the processes of communication between family members that occurs during de ployment and its impact on perc eptions of boundary ambiguity. Wood et al. (1995) report ed
192 deployment. haky relations or problems, involve the children with fathers, share physical and emotional loneliness and, in most 1995, p. 223). The effect of communication on parenta l role reorganizati unclear ho w parenting responsibilities were to be shared. In this family during deployment, enactment of roles was met with directives and frustration. In a young family, there is much learning about how to be a parent Agnes noted that it would be ideal to lear n together, but that it was unlikely to happen when one spouse was physically absent and only intermittently psychologically present. The interm ittent presence deployed spouse engaged in his or her roles during deployment. The Faber et al. (2008) th boundary ambiguity around role spouses reported that disapp decision with problems the spouses encountered. Spouses reported that if they made decisions without input fr However, t ds informed so
19 3 frequently about everyday events meant that the husbands were intimately involved with life at home and consulting in household decision Lara Cinisomo et al. (2010) noted ost [caregivers] who reported sharin the deployed service member everything, but as deployments became more frequent, they either learned to cope with hassles on their own, felt that the service member was either unable or not interested in helpi Agnes reflections on her experiences during deployment revealed not only her own perceptions of ambiguity, but perceptions about how her spouse experienced hi s own unknowns related to the family during deployment This finding u nderscores the complexity of boundary ambiguity and the systemic nature of the family Allen et al. (2011) assessed stress among couples who had experienced a deployment, and reported regarding issues related to combat, death, physical or psychological injury, loneliness, and regarding these issues than their who feel and have less perceived control experience more stress. Agnes spoke in similar terms about during deployment. about their reservist constantly and worried about his or her ambiguity generated stress that became exacerbated by hearing of bombings or attacks, and lack of information regarding their reservist. Unknowns and lack of control were reported by the
194 spouses in the study to be the biggest stressor for spouses in regard to safety. One spouse came heightened when she found out his base had been attacked. Like the spouses in Faber et al. (2008), she identified the unknowns that result from lack of communication as exacerbations to this fear. n and fear are more closely with spouses in that study, fear safety subsided and then surged throughout yment, depending on the ability to communicate with her husband when she perceived his safety threatened by combat exposure. Davis et al. (2011). It was reported that fe ar for safety was constantly present in the back of the during deployment, also explained that this fear was more acute for military spouses than their civilian co unterparts. Communication was an important contributor to this fear, which escalated When concerns for safety arise, contact with a deployed military member may be infrequent. In order to reduce stress and manage perceptions about boundary ambiguity, spouses
195 may seek information from the media or by using family support groups (Faber et al., 2008). As nt availability of information from the news seems to have created a bind for many families, in which they sought information to reduce their 226). When there is communication, military members may be guarded in the information that is provided to the spouse, perhaps to protect them from worrying (Faber et al., 2008). Limiting communication with families in this way has been observed elsewhere (Durham, 2010). These her spouse during deployment. Her extended descriptions about how she perceived the two loyment revealed the complexity of communication in this context. the stage model of deployment (Pincus et al., 2001): The five stages in a military deployment are listed as: predeployment, deployment, susta inment, redeployment, and postdeployment. The deployment phase describes the one altered routines and family responsibilities. The next phase, sustainment, un folds until the last month of deployment. During this time, new routines may be established. Although this heuristic suggests that deployment proceeds from an early period of adjustment that leads to establishment of new routines, the fluctuations in amb iguity encountered by spouses is experie (Davis et al., 2011). communication events during deploymen t (such as being unclear about how to share parenting responsibilities while on Skype/telephone, or changes in frequency of communication).
196 Receiving unexpected news about a deployment extension is also not discussed in this m odel, although this occurs wi th increasing frequency for military families, and occurred for Agnes during the course of this study. This study took place over three inte th be mapped onto her experiences when one considers boundary ambiguity and the impact of communication. There were periods of calm, routineness, and predictability with the er, there were also periods of panic, overload, and uncertainty around role reorganization. Rather than linear, boundary ambiguity was experienced with a degree of tension between stasis and uncertainty that did not follow a straight trajectory. Rather, it was a composite of the complex interactions that unfold ed for Agnes over the course of the deployment, cycling through the past, present, and anticipation of the future. Spouses in the Davis et al. (2011) study described their experiences during deploym ent as developed new sources of support, and felt more in con trol, independent, and confident in their abilities to succeed even as they experienced irritability, anger, sadness, and despair. reflections on her experiences of boundary ambiguity expand this notion further: the emotional rollercoaster can be e xplained in terms of different ways boundary ambiguity is encountered within the context of parenting during deployment. that has seldom been explored in the literatur e. In addition to experiencing the role
197 reorganizations around fulfilling both parenting roles and negotiating the blurred boundaries that emerge while communicating with her deployed spouse, Agnes revealed that her role as parent during deployment also i s development. She reported feeling pride in her role in this context, but also expressed that she felt sadness that her husband was missing out on the spontaneous moments of j oy that occurred during deployment. Such perceptions appeared i n one study, wherein Wood et al. (1995) briefly mentioned that parents reported experiences of parenting and encounters with boundary ambiguity suggest that this perception occurs more frequently than previous studies reveal. Recommendations In this discussion of recommendations, I highlight some of the critical factors associated wit lived experiences. There are no priorities assigned to these factors as each has implications for policy and clinical practice. There is no denying that the non deploye d parent adjusts to additional role respon is physically absent from the family during deployment. Substantial literature has reported on these role adjustments, and this study expanded on previous findings. Role overload, however, impacts adjustment to separation. The importance of external support outside the family becomes apparent as the non deployed parent seeks assistance with managing his or her role responsibilities. As Wood et al. (1995) reported, facto rs such as having a social support network of friends and family, and participating in family support groups can be important to spouses who successfully adjust to separation. As Agnes explained, family members and friends are reached out to for specific purposes, depending on
198 her needs. Remaining connected to family and friends for support during deployment, therefore, is an important predictor of the success of adjustment to separation from a co parent. The ability to do so, however, may be challengin g for parents of young children and particularly for families who reside off base. Thus, policies directed at enhancing support for military famil ies might incorporate extended family members and ot her social supports into the conceptualization of support systems that are critical to family coping and adjustment during deployment. In recent years, s equestration has resulted in severe funding cuts to services that were previously available to military families during deployment. Recent data suggests that in 2013, three quarters of all military families indicated being impacted by spending cuts (First Command, 2013). Services impacted by sequestration include family readiness centers (Fleet and Family Support Center, Soldier and Family Assistance Center, an d Airman and Family Readiness Center, Marine Corps Community Service Centers), sexual assault prevention and response programs, and substance abuse programs (www.military.com) The availabili ty of such services, however, ensures assistance for families wh o are adjusting to and coping with the experiences of deployment. Restoring funding to such services is a cost that should not be spared, if we want to ensure the well being of our troops and their families. At times, support is sourced from on base servi ces or through family support groups that exist within the community. However, these resources are not always available to families who may live far from a military base or in a community where other military families may not be present, and thus no FSGs available. This was refl impacted how s he experienced role overload. Where military FSGs are not available for support during deployment, c ivilian family groups that exist in communities could be encouraged to reach out to and incorporate military families. This form of support is important, considering that f amily
199 to be one of the most important reason military personnel leave service (Wood, Scarville, & Gravino, 1995, p. 219). The authors concluded in their study with her husband and children, and if t he husband was not distracted by family matters from his In addition to policy recommendations, this research also can also inform clinical practice in a number of ways. The ideas formulated through this study can have significant impact on policy development as well as how family therapists approach the military family system as it exists during deployment. One major point that emerged from this study was that stress resulting from role overload is closely connected to an increased occurrence of loneliness and symptoms of depression. As previous research has indicated, d epression and loneliness have been noted among those spouses who struggle with the separatio n of deployment (Wood et al., 1995). Therefore, addressing the experience of separation with spouses during deployment is an important task for family therapists who work with spouses in the midst of a deployment. Furthermore, research has indicated that m arital stability is associated with easier adjustment to separation (Wood et al., 1995) As a family therapist, it is important to recognize the role that communication plays in the experiences of spouses during deployment. As Agnes discussed her lived experiences, she described the way in which communication functioned as a means to stay connected but also as a window into the two worlds that she and her husband inhabited during deployment. Family therapists should consider the way in which communicati on during deployment can be a source of connection, but may also contribute to he stronger the relationship and
200 al., 2011, p. 244). Areas of interventi on with military couples may include assisting them with coping with the challenges of military life and deployment that are transmitted through communicative events. The findings from this study also suggest a re th inking about physical illness and psychological symptoms as outcomes related to role overload within the family system during dep loyment. Caretakers whose responsibilities shift to accommodate the changes to the family system during deployment may neglect to attend to personal health needs. Areas of intervention may include assisting non deployed spouses with adjustment to increased role responsibilities. Additionally, the barriers to accessing services when the non deployed parent is responsible for you ng children include identification of viable childcare options. A possible solution for overcoming this barrier to accessing services may be the development of targeted in home family therapy services that the inconvenience of locating child care. Suggestions for Further Research The military family has become a subject of interest for researchers seeking to understand the processes of adaptation and adjustment that occurs during deployment, as well as the psychological outcomes of these changes for individual members. As this study has demonstrated, the lived experiences of parenting during deployment contain rich information about the context of deployment and the role reo r ganizations that occur as family members during deployment produced findings that open new questions about boundary ambiguity and its connections to the processes and outcomes of the family system during deployment. While the findings of this study generate discussion about boundary ambiguity and the role reorganizations that occur in the military family during deployment, they also serve as a foundation for a more
201 general discussion about future research and approaches to understanding how the parenting role is experienced by the non deployed parent during deployment. It should be understood that lived ex periences, and there is little guarantee of observing the same encounters with boundary ambiguity during future deployments. There is also little guarantee of another parent experiencing boundary ambiguity and role reorganizations in the ways described by Agnes during this study. Often discussed in the literature (as reviewed in Chapter 2) are the stresses and outcomes related to deployment as reported by children and spouses of deployed military personnel Such findings have demonstrated the impact of de ployment on individuals and suggest systemi c connections among stresses and outcomes. However, less is known about the nature of the lived experiences of parenting during deployment and the way in which boundary ambiguity is perceived within these experie nces as they are lived by the parent in such contexts. While the results of my work begin to illuminate how boundary ambiguity is encountered and resultant role reorganizations are experienced by the non deployed parent, this study is not enough. My stud y ambiguity, there is still much to be learned about perceptions of role reorganizations and their impact on the family system during deployment. The following are some questions that arise from my study: In regard to the lived experiences of the non deployed parent, what are other ways in which boundary ambiguity is encountered during deployment, and how might such encounters influence role reorganization in the military family? What other circumstances within the context of deployment might contribute to shifts in perceptions about ambiguity
202 experienced by the non d eployed parent? Where boundary ambiguity is understood to be experienced bi directionally as spouses interact during deployment, what is the nature of the dual perceptions that arise through such transactions? How are role reorganizations thus experience d and understood through these dual perceptions? How does the deployed spouse understand and experience his or her role in regard to missed parenting experiences, the preserved moments that are transmitted during deployment, and those that are shared upon reunification? Immediacy and proximity to lived experiences are critical to investigations that seek to understand perceptions about boundary ambiguity and the resultant role reorganizations that occur in military families during deployment. However, the bulk of studies that have reported on the military family have been informed by retrospective accounts of life during deployment. For instance, the Burrell et al. (2006) study of the impact of military lifestyle demands on spouses collected data from a s ample that included only a few participants actually in the midst of a deployment at the time of the study. Similarly, sources of stress that were attributed to deployment related separations among military couples were assessed after the couples had been re reflections reveled that perceptions about ambiguity were constantly in flux, which had important implications for how she experienced and understood role reorganizati ons during deployment. The transactional patterns that unfold during deployment clearly influence perceptions about who is present in the family system. As explored through the lived experiences of one family member, in this case the non deployed parent, the impact of communication on the perception of ambiguity became apparent. Although Agnes shared what she understood her
203 experienced by the other spouse. Thus, a q uestion is raised about how the deployed member experiences and understands ambiguity within the context of deployment. A more complete picture of the phenomenon of boundary ambiguity within the context of deployment should therefore consider lived experi ences from multiple perspectives within the family system. This would yield a deeper systemic understanding about the transactional processes that unfold as ambiguity is encountered. Findings from such studies would inform clinical practices that seek to address the functioning of the family system during deployment and the well being of its members. Applied communications research, naturally, has supplied nascent findings about the transactional processes between spouses that unfold during deplo yment, pa rticularly as concern relati onal maintenance Although the focus of the Merolla (2010) study was to understand how both partners maintained relationships during deployment, the findings indicated that perceptions about boundary ambiguity play a role withi n these dynamics. Future studies modeled after this template which consider multiple perspectives would expand what is known about encounters with boundary ambiguity in the family system during deployment. The majority of studies to date have focused almo st exclusively on the perspectives of wives who experience separation from husbands who deploy for military service. Yet, there is a need for additional research into the lived experiences of men who fulfill the dual parenting roles when wives deploy for military service. There is rich information in these stories, in the opinion of the researcher, that would benefit an updated military family research agenda. Another area that surfaced within this study that captured the interest of the researcher was th e dynamic nature of the lived experiences of parenting over the course of a deployment. This study benefited from data that was collected over several months during a deployment,
204 which revealed the shifts in perspectives about ambiguity that occurred over time. It is hoped that future research will consider longitudinal approaches to exploring how boundary ambiguity is experienced, as this would expand understandings about the processes of role reorganizations that appear to be constantly in flux during d eployment. As this study was developed and implemented, many other ideas for how to alter the design came to mind. One obvious design alternative would incorporate multiple perspectives of parenting during deployment. The initial design of this study inc luded learning about the lived experiences of up to fifteen participants, but due to unforeseen barriers encountered in the recruitment of participants, this study employed a single case design. Future research using different recruitment strategies would benefit from multiple perspectives of parenting during deployment. As I encountered difficulties related to recruitment of participants, and later reflected on consid ered possible reasons why non deployed parents, and in particular those whose children are under the age of five, might choose not to participate in research of this nature. One thought is that parents who are tasked with the responsibilities of parenting young children alone during deployment may be consumed with the role responsibilities that are encountered in their contexts. Potential future research might therefore consider the barriers faced by parents of young children in the context of deployment. Researcher Reflections My role as a researcher in this hermeneutic phenomenological study was integral to the design, implementation, and interpretations My positionality in relation to the understandings that emerged as a result of this study was divid ed into my prior experiences as a clinician and more broadly as a civilian. My professional identity as a marriage and family therapist guided
205 my understandings about the systemic nature of the family, through which interpretations about boundary ambiguit y and role reorganizations were conceptualized in this study. Moreover, my preferred theoretical approach as a clinician narrative therapy, which is a postmodern approach that emphasizes the subjectivity inherent in the way we describe and understand our lived experiences appeared as an added dimension to my approaches to gathering and interpreting These facets of my professional identity arose in interesting and unanticipated, though useful, ways as I fun ctioned in the role of researcher in this study. This became particularly evident during the photo elicitation interviews. The narrative approach to therapy is founded structed, narrative therapy takes into consideration the ways in which the past, present, and future are r understandings of lived experiences. As a narrative therapist would conduct a clinical dialogue, I attended to language during the interviews in this study as pivots upon which conversations turned from past, present, and future. This was vital for the deepening understandings that were explored about how Agnes experienced boundary ambiguity in her context. Access to a clinical training background assisted my role as a researcher, but at times I recognized that more generic clinical habits also appeared throughout the process, which influenced choices I made about what to pursue when conversations treaded into emotional territory outside the scope of research. Although basic therapeutic skills such as active listening and reflective processes elicited de tailed information, I recognized times during our
206 conversations when it was necessary to temper my training as a clinician with my present role as researcher in this study in order to ensure that the se two roles remained distinct. Secondly, my position as a civilian conducting research that explored a facet of the military family life often brought into awareness the sense of the gap that exists between these two domains. As I dialogued with Agnes about her lived experiences, she was patient with my nave inquiries and clarified military abbreviations or language that was unfamiliar to me. But, as we explored details about her lived experiences that involved her interactions with others outside her family system, I frequently heard echoes of my own lack of awareness about the situation that military families encounter during deployment. As my writing this document neared its end, the civil war in Syria and uncertainty about the U.S. milit ary involvement unfolded. I couldn y f amilies will imited in experiences of deployment as the media reported on this newest conflict. Summary The questions raised through the discussion of the findings of this study are difficult to answer, yet the situation remains h opeful. This inquiry into the lived experiences of parenting during deployment offers new understandings about parenting in this context, as well as how boundary ambiguity emerges as a phenomenon within this context that has significant influence on the e xperiences and understandings about role reorganizations that occur in the military family. This research, which expands upon the prior wor ks of Hill (1949) and Boss (1980 ), has forged new understandings about the family system during deployment that warr ants further research. Specifically, this new terrain is defined by the following questions: what are other
207 ways in which boundary ambiguity is encountered during deployment, and how might such encounters influence role reorganization in the military fam ily? What other circumstances within the context of deployment might contribute to shifts in perceptions about ambiguity experienced by the non deployed parent? Where boundary ambiguity is understood to be experienced bi directionally as spouses interact during deployment, what is the nature of the dual perceptions that arise through such transactions? How are role reorganizations thus experienced and understood through these dual perceptions? How does the deployed spouse understand and experience his o r her role in regard to missed parenting experiences, the preserved moments that are transmitted during deployment, and those that are shared upon reunification? The impetus for undertaking this hermeneutic phenomenological inquiry into the lived experienc es of the non deployed parent during deployment was to seek answers to the following question and subquestions: What is the nature of the lived experiences of parenting during deployment? How does a non deployed parent describe her parenting experiences during deployment? How does a non deployed parent experience and understand boundary ambiguity as it relates to the parenting role during deployment ? Through elicited reflections on parenting during deployment these questions were addressed and the multi faceted and dynamic nature of the lived experiences of the non deployed parent were revealed. In depth explorations of those lived experiences elicited descriptions that were at times congruent with reports from previous stud ies, but at other times contrasted with conceptualizations about the context of the military family relation to the parenting role during deployment were illustrated b y th e three encounters outlined in C
208 Finally, the analysis of the data yielded the findings that suggest that ongoing encounters with boundary ambiguity vary in degrees of uncertain ty about how the deployed member is present in the family system, particularly in relation parenting roles. As discussed, at times the role reorganization within the family system may be clear yet still overwhelming as the non deployed parent fulfills bot h roles. At other times, uncertainty may result from attempts to establish parenting roles during brief periods of communication, or when significant moments are missed by the absent parent. Additionally, each encounter with boundary ambiguity has implic ations for role reorganizations. Furthermore, it became apparent that communication during deployment renders ambigui ty bi directional. Finally perceptions of ambiguity in the military family system shift over the course of deployment. The work of this study contributes a deeper understanding of the lived experiences of parenting during deployment, particularly as boundary ambiguity is encountered and role reorganizations are experienced and understood by the non deployed parent. Through the findings pr esented by this study, policymakers, clinicians, and family researchers are empowered to find solutions to the challenges faced by military families.
209 APPENDIX A INFORMED CONSENT Protocol Title: Boundary Ambiguity and the Experiences of the Non deployed P arent Please read this consent document carefully before you decide to participate in this study. Purpose of the research study: The purpose of this research is to qualitatively explore how a group of non deployed parents experience and understand their p arenting role within the context of deployment, to understand what being a parent during deployment means to them. What you will be asked to do in the study : 1) Orientation : Participants will be introduced to the purpose of the study in an orientation sessi on, during which time the principle investigator (PI hereafter) will discuss the goals of the study, provide guidelines and ethical considerations pertaining to the use of cameras, and answer any questions participants might have related to the study. P articipants will have the opportunity to use their personal cameras for the study, or will have a single use, disposable camera provided to them by the PI. In the event that the PI provides a participant with a single use, disposable camera, the PI will e xplain the technical use of the camera to the participant (i.e., how and when to use flash, how to wind the film, etc.). 2) Participant photography : Participants will document their experiences as parents during deployment through photographs taken during a one week period following the orientation session. Take a minimum of 5 photographs that will visually depict the 4 hours). You MUST NOT take pictures of other people or of anything that could identify o thers in order to guard the confidentiality of you and others. You also MUST NOT engage in or depict illegal activity or activity that is dangerous to yourself or others in your photographs. If you do, you will not be allowed to continue in the study, and the researcher will have to report illegal activity to the proper authorities. Your photographs should address the prompt. Participants will submit electronic copies of their photographs to the PI at the conclusion of the one week period, and the PI will develop photographs within twenty four (24) hours. 1) Interview : Participants will select five (5) photographs that they feel most significantly represent their experiences, upload to a shared database, and meet individually with the PI. Participants will p articipate in an open ended interview with additional probing questions, conducted by the PI using the interview guide (copy attached). Interviews will be audio recorded and transcribed by the PI. 2) Follow up : Participants will meet with the PI after data has been analyzed, during which time participants will member check data presentation and suggest changes or omissions. Photographs used in the study will remain the property of the participants, and will be returned to participants at the conclusion of the study. Time Required: Risks and Benefits: No more than minimal risk. Participants will gain insight into their may inform clinicians and policymakers. Learning about the experiences of participating parents will be valuable not only to those involved in the study, but potentially to all military families nationally. Compensation: There is no compensation for participating in the study.
210 Confidentialit y: Your identity will be kept confidential to the extent provided by law. You will never be referred to using your real name. You will only be referred to using a pseudonym that you choose. Your pseudonym and any identifying information will be stored on a key, which will be stored in a locked box accessible only to the research team. As soon as all the data have been transcribed and coded, this key will be destroyed. Interview transcripts will be stored electronically on a password protected computer and will be accessible only to the research team. A printed copy of each transcript used for analysis will be stored in a locked box accessible only to the research team. Printed copies of photographs and photograph information sheets will be stored in a in a locked box accessible only to the research team. The shared database used to upload electronic copies of photographs and photograph information sheets will be secured by password, and will be accessible only by the participant and the research team. Some of your publication in scholarly articles or academic presentations, however, any references to these photographs will be identified only by the pseudonym you c hoose. Copies of the photographs and then all photographs will be destroyed. The records of this study will be kept private. In any published articles or pre sentations, we will not include any information that will make it possible to identify you as a participant. You will be identified only by the pseudonym that you chose at the beginning of the research study. Voluntary Participation : Your participation i n this study is completely voluntary. There is no penalty for not participating. Right to withdraw from the study: You have the right to withdraw from the study at any time without consequence. You do not have to answer any questions that you do not wan t to answer. Whom to contact if you have questions about the study: Emily L. Diehl, M.S.W., Ed.S., College of Education, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611 Whom to contact about your rights as a research participant in the study: UFIRB Office Box 112250, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611 2250; ph. 392 0433. I have read the procedure outlined above. I voluntarily agree to participate in this study and have received a copy of this description. Pri
211 APPENDIX B RECRUITMENT ADVERTISEMENT
212 APPENDIX C LETTER OF INVITATION (FOR SNOWBALL SAMPLING) Address Phone Number: 000 000 000 Name of Contact Position Name of Organization E mail address Dear (Name of Con tact), My name is Emily Diehl and I am a doctoral candidate at the University of Florida. I am contacting you because ____ recommended you for participation in my research study which is required for the Ph.D. degree I am pursuing. I am very excited to b egin this phase of my education. Deployed Parent: A deployment separations. The purpose of my research study is to better understand how parenting is experienced during deployment, from the perspective of the non deployed parent. My research questions will ask each participant to describe their experiences of parenting during deployment. What is the nature of the lived experience of parenting during deployment, from the perspective of the non deployed parent? How does the non deployed parent experience and understand boundary ambiguity as it relates to the parenting role during deployment ? How d o non deployed parents describe their parenting experiences during deployment? The experiences of non deployed parents may help key stakeholders identify essential concerns and assist in the development of effective military family policies and supportiv e programs. Insights from findings may also enhance clinical competency among practitioners who may encounter military families in mental health settings. This study may also be significant in improving the lives of non deployed parents and their familie s who experience the unique context of deployment. structured interview session lasting approximately 60 minutes, during which you will have the opportunity to discuss how your photographs represent experiences of parenting during deployment. The interview will be audiotaped to ensure accuracy of the discussion. One follow up contact will follow. I will ask you to verify the accuracy of the transcribed interview and offer you the opportunity to provide additional information if desired. The follow
213 up contact is not an interview. The single interview session and one follow up contact will t ake place within a timeframe of two weeks. There is no travel involved except for this researcher. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact the principal investigator, Emily Diehl at (000) 000 0000 (Eastern Time Zone). You may also contact the faculty supervisor of this project, Dr. Silvia Echevarria Doan at (000) 000 0000 (Eastern Time Zone). If you have questions concerning your rights as a participant, you may contact the University of Florida Institutional Review Board through the Resear ch Office at (000) 000 0000 (Eastern Time Zone). I look forward to us working together. Sincerely, Emily Diehl Doctoral Candidate (000) 000 0000 (Eastern Time Zone)
214 APPENDIX D RECRUITMENT LETTER Dear My name is Emily Diehl, and I am a Ph.D. ca ndidate at the University of Florida. As a family researcher, I am reaching out to military families to learn firsthand what it is like to be a parent while a spouse is deployed. It is my hope that what I learn from parents can be used to inform family m ental health professionals and improve services received by our military families during deployment. To be eligible to participate, parents need to meet the following criteria: 1) Be married or in a domestic relationship with a member of the military (ac tive duty Army, Navy, Air Force, or Marines); 2) Spouse or partner currently deployed or will deploy during the study; 3) Have children in the household, between the ages of 0 17; and 4) Live off base. Additionally, as this study is unfunded, researcher travel for interviews is geographically limited to the southeastern United States. I am therefore seeking up to 15 eligible volunteers from North Carolina (western and central regions), South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama (northern region), and Florida (nort hern and central regions). If a volunteer is unsure about eligibility for this study, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org As a volunteer in this study, parents will use cameras to take a minimum of five photographs that il will be provided. A one hour interview with the researcher will conclude participation. Total time commitment for volunteers will not exceed two hours, and volunteer identity will remain confidential (real names will not be used). The advertisement flier for this study is attached to this message. Please pass this advertisement along to parents who meet the volunteer criteria listed above and who may be in terested in sharing their parenting experiences through photography. Or if you prefer, the flier can be printed and posted. Interested volunteers are invited to contact me via the email address printed on the flier. If you have any questions or would li ke additional information, please feel free to contact me at email@example.com Thank you for your time. Respectfully, Emily L. Diehl, MSW, Ed.S. University of Florida deplo Study number: U 325 2013
215 APPENDIX E PARTICIPANT PACKET: WELCOME LETTER Thank you for responding to the advertisement for my dissertation research study. My name is Emily Diehl, and I am a Ph.D. candidate at the Universi ty of Florida. As a family researcher, I am reaching out to military families to learn firsthand what it is like to be a parent while a spouse is deployed. It is my hope that what I learn from parents can be used to inform family mental health professio nals and improve services received by our military families during deployment. To be eligible for participation in this study, volunteers need to meet the following criteria: 1) Be married or in a domestic relationship with a member of the military; 2) Spouse or partner currently deployed or will deploy during the study; 3) Have children in the household, between the ages of 0 17; and 4) Live off base. Additionally, as this study is unfunded, researcher travel for interviews is geographically limited t o the southeastern United States I am therefore seeking up to 15 eligible volunteers from North Carolina (western and central regions), South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama (northern region), and Florida (northern and central regions). If you are unsure ab out your eligibility for this study, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org This packet provides an overview of the study and instructions for your tasks as a participant. Please review the materials, and if you have any addi tional questions please feel free to ask. If you decide to volunteer at this time, please review and sign the Informed Consent form and the Demographic Questionnaire and return them to me in the stamped envelope I have included. These forms will be acces sible only to me, and your identity will remain confidential. You may begin taking photographs as soon as you like, and I will contact you when I have received your Informed Consent and Demographic Questionnaire. We will then schedule a time for us to me et for our interview. This study is intended as an opportunity to share and reflect upon what it is like to be a parent in a military family, and I look forward to what we will explore together. Thank you for volunteering.
216 APPENDIX F PARTICIPANT PACKET : OVERVIEW OF THE STUDY METHODS Study Overview This brief overview will provide you with an explanation of the methods of this research photo elicitation methods which are described in the following sections. This information is provided for your reference and will clarify the tasks you will complete during participation in this study. If you have any additional questions related to the study methods, please cont act me at email@example.com photography as a medium for a story. In a photo elicitation pro ject, the participant is given a camera and asked to take pictures of his/her life in order to give an accurate account and perception of what is actually going on. The photographs are then used to describe and discuss the focus of the study (in this case, parenting during deployment). By combining photographs and interview, a detailed description of a life experience emerges. Having technical photography skills is not required to achieve a desirable result in a photo have as much technical composition, like being out of focus or blurred, are often the most compelling. The main component of a photo elicitation project is that somehow a story is created -either a photograph prompts a story or a personal life experience is told and shared through photos. Why photographs? Photographs can identify, represent, and enhance your experiences and your community. The immediacy of the visual image and accompanying stories furnish evidence and promote an effective, participatory means of sharing expertise about the subject being explored. Historically, we have given primacy to the verbal over the visual. Photographs access another mode of communication: the brain processes visual information differently than verbal information. Ph otographs that are taken by participants allow access to experiences that are not observable by the researcher. This allows participants to offer deeper insight into their experiences and meanings than can be elicited by surveys or interviews alone. The p rocess of carrying a camera with us everywhere causes us to continually reflect on our surroundings and reconsider the common and sometimes ignored objects and events that surround our daily lives. Taking photographs No experience needed! Owning a camera or having experience taking photographs is not necessary. If you do not have a camera, one will be supplied to you for the duration of this study. Photo quality is not important. Photo elicitation is not about the quality of your photographs. It is about t aking pictures that mean something to you as a teaching assistant.
217 Keep notes. It is helpful to write down information about photos when they are taken. Keep notes about why you took a picture. Write your thoughts as if you were talking to someone else ab out your photos. Speak from your heart. For this study, you will complete a Photograph Information Sheet (included in this packet) for each photograph you take. Instructions are provided on the form. This study aims to learn more about the experiences of photographs are entirely your choice, but it might be helpful to think about this prompt as you are taking your photographs: R emember, the point is not to take pictures that are of high technical quality. You do not need to know anything about photography to be able to take pictures that are meaningful to you. The pictures you take should tell your story. What should I photog raph? There are different ways that you might choose to represent your experiences in your photographs: spontaneously or staged. example of a spontaneous photograph: represent something that is not immediately available to photograph. Examples of staged photographs:
218 Ethical considerations You are free to be as creative as you like when taking your photographs. For the purposes of this study and to abide by IRB ethical guidelines, please do not take photographs of people You may take photographs of crowds or where people are present in the distance (as in the example below), but photographs ca nnot contain individuals who are identifiable. If you would like to somehow include the idea of people in your photographs, consider using staged photographs to convey your experiences. The photographs you take for the purposes of this study remain your property. You may withdraw photographs from the study at any time. All printed copies of photographs will be returned to you at the end of the study. Photographs may be used by the researcher for publication in professional journals or conference presenta tions. Participant's identification will remain confidential at all times. Instructions for your tasks as a participant in this study are provided in the next section.
219 APPENDIX G DEMOGRAPHIC INFORMATION SHEET This is a confidential survey protected by the full extent of the law. The survey will be used only for the purpose of this dissertation agreed to by this researcher and the participant in the informed consent. The information gathered from this sheet will inform the writing of the participant pro file section of the dissertation. Participants will be referred to only by the pseudonym provided. Please return this form along with the Informed Consent form to the researcher in the provided stamped envelope. All categories are important. Please answe r all categories. Do not omit any questions. 1. Gender (Please circle): Female or Male 2. Age: (Please state) ____________ 3. Age(s) of Child/Children? (Please state)______________________________ 4. State of residence? (Please state) _________________ _________ 5. Length of marriage: (Please circle) (1) Less than 1 year (5) 9 to 10 years (2) 1 to 3 years (3) 4 to 6 years (4) 6 to 8 years (5) 9 to 10 years (6) More than 10 years 16. Highest grade completed (please circle) (1) High School diploma (3) Bachelors degree (2) Did not complete high school (4) Masters degree or higher 11. Do you work? (Please circle) Yes or No 12. What branch of military service does your family represent? (Please circle) (1) Army (2) Navy (3) Air Force (4) Marines 13. Is this your first deployment related separation from your spouse or partner? (Please circle) Yes or No 14. If no, how many times have you been separated in the past due to deployment? (Please circle)
220 (1) 1 to 2 times (2) 3 to 4 times (3) 5 to 6 times 15. What is the longest time you have been separated from your spouse due to deployment? (Please circle) (1) 1 month or less (3) 5 to 7 months (5) 10 to 11 months (2) 2 to 4 months (4) 8 to 9 months (6) 12 months and above 16. Do you communicate w ith your husband during deployment? (Please circle) Yes or No 17. If yes, how often are you able to communicate with your husband? (Please circle) (1) Daily (2) Weekly (3) Monthly 18. Are you aware of available support services in your area? (Please circle) Yes or No 19. What types of family support services do you utilize while your spouse is deployed? _______________________________________ Contact Information: Please provide an email address that you use regularly. I will use this email addr ess to send correspondence throughout the study. Email address: _______________________________________ Psedonym: Please select a pseudonym. The name you select will keep your identity confidential throughout the study. Only a first name is required blank if you would prefer a researcher assigned pseudonym. Psedonym: ___________________________________________ If you have any questions, please feel free to contact the principal investigator, Emily Diehl at (35 2) 215 1530. You may also contact the faculty supervisor of this project, Dr. Silvia Echevarria Doan at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you have questions concerning your rights as a participant, you may contact the Institutional Review Board through the University of Florida Office of Research at (352) 392 0433.
221 APPENDIX H PHOTOGRAPHY INFORMATION SHEET The purpose of this activity is to use a camera to document your experiences. The pictures that I When you are taking your pictures, I would like you to keep the following in mind: You may take pictures of objects that represent your life as a parent during deployment. You may refer to the interview guide to get ideas about what to photograph. You MUST NOT take pictures of other people or of anything that would identify who you are. This is so I can help guard the confidentiality of you and other people. Any photos that include people or identifying information cannot b e used in the research and will be destroyed. Also, you MUST NOT engage in or depict illegal activity or activity that is dangerous to yourself or others in your photographs. If you do, you will not be allowed to continue in the study, and the researcher w ill have to report illegal activity to the proper authorities. a removable hard dr ive. Complete a photograph information sheet (typed or handwritten) as soon as possible after each photograph is taken. When you have finished taking your pictures, please select 5 photographs that depict your experiences as a parent during deployment Send your photographs as attachments to email@example.com I will also need to see the corresponding Photograph Information Sheet for each photograph you send prior to our interview. Please return these sheets in the en velope provided, or scan and attach them in an email. Once you have emailed your 5 pictures, we can schedule a time to meet for the photo elicitation interview when we will talk about your photographs. This interview will take place within one week of su bmitting photographs. You will have the opportunity to describe what each photograph represents or means to you, and we will explore additional facets of your experience through questions from the Interview Guide. I have provided a copy of the Interview G uide for your review. Our conversation will be recorded so that I can have an accurate record of what we talk about. All the photos that you take will be stored safely, and I will not share them with anyone. I will refer to the pictures you take and wha t you say about them using the pseudonym that you chose.
222 If you have any questions about this part of the research, please call or e mail me at 352 215 1530 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
223 APPENDIX I PHOTOGRAPH INFORMATION SHEET Please complete the following questi ons as soon as possible after taking each photograph. This will help you recall information about the photograph during the photo elicitation interview. You will receive ten copies of this sheet, but please contact me if you need additional sheets. You may use the bottom or back of this sheet to record additional notes, if needed. Be sure to label photographs in a way that will make it easy to determine the corresponding aph. Please select a name or brief title for this photograph: When was this photograph taken: Where was this photograph taken: What was happening when this photograph was taken: What were you thinking and feeling when you took this photo graph: What words do you associate with this photograph: Additional comments:
224 APPENDIX J INTERVIEW GUIDE The following list of open ended questions will be used to guide the photo elicitation interviews. The questions are representative of the potential questions and topics that will be t Participant notes on the corresponding Photo Information sheet may be used to prompt participant. How do you understand deployment? What feelings are evoked when you think about deployment? Could you describe a typical day in your ho me during deployment? How do you make sense of family boundaries when your spouse is deployed? What kinds of things do you notice about family dynamics during deployment? How do you mak e sense of member absence in your family during deployment? How do you understand your role as parent during deployment? What happens to your parenting responsibilities during deployment? How does your family relate to you as a parent during deployment? Wh at feelings are evoked when you think about your parenting role during deployment? What do you think it means to be a parent during deployment? What do you notice about your relationship with your children during deployment? Final questions Are there other thoughts you have about your experiences as a parent during deployment? Do you recommend or suggest I talk to anyon e else, who might have insights about what it is like to be a parent during deployment?
225 APPENDIX K INTERVIEW MEMO PROTOCOL Participant pseudonym: Date of interview: Start Time: End Time: Topics discussed: Initial reactions: Comments: Emergi ng questions:
226 APPENDIX L DATA COLLECTION PROCESS
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236 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH Emil ucational journey has consisted of a Bachelor of Arts with a major in psychology from Oglethorpe University and a Master of Social Work degree earned in 2010 at the University of Georgia. Following under graduate studies, Emily lived abroad in India and r eturned to the United States to pursue employment in the field of mental health. After several years of direct service provision to children and families, a continued interest in fa mily systems became the impetus for graduate studies in social work and s ubsequently, the focus of her doctoral research. Emily earned her doctorate in Marriage and Family Counseling from the University of Florida in 2014.