CHICAGO - Children in some Army families are vulnerable to abuse and neglect by their mothers when their fathers are away at war in Iraq and Afghanistan, a large Pentagon-funded study finds.
Really. You don't say?
My cohort over at SpouseBUZZ, Love My Tanker, posted about this earlier today. I had read about some of these studies over the past few days but I was too flabbergasted to come up with anything articulate.
First off, it would have been nice if the Pentagon had decided to spend that money on other things such as more MRAPs for our troops, better treatment for traumatic brain injuries or post-traumatic-stress-disorder, or even digging up an ANSWER to my stinking QUESTION.
Instead, they fund a study that tells us something we already know. That deployments are stressful on those left behind and that stress often manifests itself in poor parenting/coping skills. Thanks guys.
Seriously? Did we honestly need a study to tell us this? Yes, deployments are stressful. Yes, our children often feel the effects of this stress. Yes, patience and tolerance are often the first things to go when you're doing your best to juggle the household chores, the childcare (the never-ending childcare), the meals, the bills, the yardwork, the car that dies when you most need it to start, the squashing of bugs in the middle of the night, the cleaning up of barf at 3am, etc.
Andi and I were discussing these studies via email the other day and she brought up a very good point in that none of the findings were a surprise. And they are not. It would make sense to see instances of abuse and neglect rise during deployments. Stress can add fuel to a fire and if a parent is already stressed and/or frazzled and/or coping with poor parenting skills, it would follow that removing an element of support from the situation could lead to negative outcomes.
Andi also brought up the question as to whether other high-stress jobs (civilian jobs) faced similar indices. I doubt it. I don't think the increase in neglect and abuse seen in these studies is a reflection of WHAT the job of the absent parent was. I think it's a reflection of the length of TIME that the absent parent is GONE. In addition, the fact that military families tend to be younger than civilian families and removed from support mechanisms that civilian families would normally have access to, such as extended family and close friends, most definitely play an integral part in the outcomes.
So my biggest question is WHY? Why waste the time, the money, the manpower, the brainpower, and the resources on studies such as these? Why? You're pointing out the obvious. You're preaching to the choir, no matter your intended audience.
The military families will say, "No shit, Sherlock."
Those who support the war will continue to do so and yell a little louder in their support for military families for a bit.
Those who oppose the war will use these studies and their stale knowledge to bang their "I-support-the-troops-but-not-the-war" drum a little louder.
And what have we gained? Not a damn thing. No one is better off because of these studies.