In my last post for ImprovingLives.org, I outlined keys to effective parenting in the face of stress and trauma. Parenting can be especially challenging for service members returning home because parents have to adjust and figure out how to fit back into the family. These challenges are compounded by the fact that some service members suffer from traumatic brain injuries and post-traumatic stress disorder.
We started Project ADAPT because we saw a clearly identifiable problem with no rigorously tested solution: there is a high need for family support for military kids nationally and in Minnesota. Previously, there was no evidence-based parenting program for military families with school-aged kids.
Improved Parenting Helps Kids
The evaluation of the ADAPT program showed that parents who were invited to the 14-week intervention showed stronger parenting self-efficacy than parents who were offered other (non-ADAPT parenting) resources; these improvements led to other improvements, such as less depression, PTSD symptoms, and even less suicidality in parents.
When parents are effective, they help their children to be resilient. Parents in the ADAPT program not only felt better about their parenting, they also showed improved parenting practices. After 12 months we asked teachers, parents and children about how kids were doing. We found that improvements in parenting behaviors, as a result of the program, also led to significant improvements in kids’ adjustment.
Study Funded by the Department of Defense
A similar study called ADAPT4U was funded by the Department of Defense. It’s intended to test which of the following three formats of the ADAPT parenting program is most effective.
- The standard, group version of ADAPT
- An online, or telehealth version of ADAPT
- A Telehealth version of ADAPT
While we know that the standard form of Project ADAPT is effective, we’re studying these different forms of the project because National Guard and Reserve service members may be geographically isolated or simply too busy to participate in a weekly group program. ADAPT online allows for parents to access the program anytime, anywhere, at their convenience. In the telehealth version, individual families meet online with a coach once a week for 14 weeks. More than 300 families have joined the project so far.
There are a few spots open for families with 5- to 12-year-old children where at least one parent has been deployed to the wars in the middle east. Families interested in being part of the study can apply here. Note that eligible families will be randomly placed into one of the three programs so that we may best evaluate which program is most effective.
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