Single Parents in the Air Force: A Work-Life Balance


The research done on families and single parenting is a vast expanse of literature in many different types of scholarly journals. The effects that a parent has on the development and growth of their children are a vital part of the formation of their character and future abilities. Therefore the question many researchers are trying to answer is if there is a difference between the traditional family unit and single parent households. The majority of the research done throughout the years has been done with either the traditional family unit rather then the single parent households. When the single parent households were examined the researchers more typically chose single parent households in the civilian job market.

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Main body

The purpose of this paper is to examine the body of research present on single parent households with an emphasis on single parent households with that parent either an enlisted service member or a commissioned officer of the United States Air Force. This data will allow researchers to more fully understand the demands and issues facing single parents serving in the United States Air Force and other branches of the Armed Forces and how those demands and obligations affect their relationship with their families.

In the Webster’s New World Dictionary parenting is defined as either work or the skill of a parent in raising a child or children. For single parents the same definition applies except that the single parent assumes both the role of the mother and father. Through various different circumstances an individual can become a single parent. These include divorce, separation, abandonment, and death. Upon assuming responsibility for these children the single parent enters a social situation in which they are responsible for the safety and welfare of those children with possible limited support from the former spouse or partner.

Single parenting is a complex social situation that requires both flexibility and stability. These individuals provide the primary care for children under the age of eighteen and must have the flexibility to be able to leave work related activities to provide care for the children in emergency situations, as well as the ability to manipulate their schedule so that all of their responsibilities both with their families and work responsibilities are met. The ability to maintain positive family time while working a demanding job is a difficult proposition even with two parents assisting in the rearing of the children. When an individual serves in the military there is a limited amount of flexibility with regard to family emergencies but the needs of the military come before the needs of the family. By being a single parent and a member of the military the difficulties become more complicated because there is not another parent available to assist with the rearing of the children.

Due to concerns in the media about the increase in violent crimes and other social problems that are possibly related to the breakdown of the traditional nuclear family otherwise known as the increase in single parents the stigma surrounding these parents is increasing. This rising stigma is based on several myths surrounding the traditional nuclear family.

The first myth that hurts single parents is the predominance of the traditional nuclear family in the United States. Due to this myth single parents often deal with feelings of isolation; being alone and different from their neighbors. This is a myth because over the past twenty-five years the amount of single parent households in the United States has doubled.

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A second myth of single parenting is that single parent families are “broken homes”. In many cases single parents who experienced a divorce or did not marry the partner made the wisest and healthiest choice to create a stable home for their children. Through many studies on single parent homes through well-researched studies have shown that “single parenting develops the parent’s independence and ability to handle a variety of situations” (Hanson, January,1986). The children of single parent households also receive a benefit of increased levels of responsibility. “Parental and child-health outcomes were related to larger networks of social support and good communication within the single-parent family” (Hanson, January, 1986). While there are benefits to being a single parent there are complications due to the high demands placed on these individuals by both their children and the demands of their jobs.

While being a single parent results in increased responsibility, lack of freedom and possible social stigma there are many individuals who choose to raise their children by themselves with all the risks inherent in such a proposition but also with all of the rewards of raising a child. Single parents exist in both the civilian and military world. The civilian job market offers more flexibility in what job a single parent performs and what job responsibilities they are in charge of. If a position conflicts with their needs in caring for their children there are other opportunities available to them. In comparison while in the military single parents are required to fulfill the terms of the contract that was signed during the enlistment process. There is no way to renegotiate the contract unless there is a medical reason that changes in personal status. The individual who either enlisted or accepted a commission must fulfill the terms of the contract signed or be dismissed from military service.

The civilian job market has more flexibility in the types of childcare available to the single parent; however, child care is extraordinarily expensive and can result in a large financial drain on the single parent. In the military there are several options for childcare including base sponsored childcare in which the parents rank determines the cost of the childcare or unofficial childcare provided by the spouse of a fellow co-worker with a large family. An additional concern to single parents in the civilian world is maintaining affordable health care for themselves and their children. In the military the single parent is guaranteed health coverage for there families with the knowledge that their children would receive excellent healthcare for any physical or mental illness or condition.

While there are many benefits to serve in the nations Armed Forces there are also many restrictions. Due to the nature of military service when an individual seeks to enlist in the Air Force his or her suitability is determined throughout the application process. The ability to enlist in the armed forces must be qualified under the current federal laws and regulations or an appropriate waiver must be obtained before the final contracts are signed. Combined with the federal laws the various military services have the right to determine additional qualifications for their personal. While it may be perceived by the general population that joining the military is an easy process there are many restrictions that limit the numbers of individuals who are eligible for enlisted or commissioned in the nations Armed Forces.

Due to the specialized needs of the nations Armed Forces strict guidelines and regulations must be met by applicants seeking to join any of the military branches. These specialized needs allow the military to accept or reject applicants based on their personal characteristics such as number of dependents, financial stability and their age. While it might be difficult for the average citizen to understand these requirements the selection process maintained by the Armed Forces have been examined and approved by the Supreme Court in the case Kennedy v. Mendoza-Martinez in 1963.

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The military is, by necessity, a specialized society (separate) from the civilian societies…The military must insist upon a respect for duty and a discipline without counterpart in civilian life,’ in order to prepare for and perform its vital role … The essence of the military service ‘is the subordination of the desire and interests of the individual to the needs of the service.’ The history of the courts deferring to the judgment of military leaders on matters affecting the Armed Forces is one of the most consistently upheld principles of constitutional law. Furthermore, serving in the military is a privilege and sometimes an obligation, conferring neither the right to serve nor the right to avoid service (Kennedy v. Mendoza-Martinez 372 U.S. 144 (1963)).

Several of these qualifications include the age of the applicant, citizenship, and the number of dependents the applicant is responsible for. The minimum age to join is 17 with the consent of the parents and the maximum age to join is 42. However the policy created by the Department of Defense (DOD) allows the various services to set their own maximum age based on the requirements presented by the unique challenges and missions of each branch of service. Citizenship at the time of enlistment is only required for commissioned officers while individuals who chose to enter the military as an enlisted personal can be a non-citizen if they have entered the United States on a permanent residence visa or has a greencard. They must establish a residence in the United States combined with a home of record in the United States. The military gives these individuals the opportunity to become United States citizens in a slightly accelerated manner.

The DOD generally prohibits the enlistment of any individual who has responsibility of two or more dependents under the age of 18 at the time of the enlistment. The various military services have the ability to waive this requirement many of them have even stricter requirements then the standard DOD policy. The Air Force in particular will require an examination of the individual’s financial situation if the individual has any dependents including a spouse. This is done to ensure that the individual will be able to support his or her family with a military salary.

With only one exception in the branches of the Armed Forces single parents are not allowed to enlist in the military. The demands that the military places on the individuals who serve their country is a difficult environment in which to be a single parent. There are no exceptions made in the assignment of orders, duty stations, deployments or time off for individuals who have become a single parent due to divorce or death of their spouse. In these cases the single parent is required to have a local individual who is not a member of the military agree in writing that they will accept the responsibility of those children with no notice in the event that the individual who is in the military is deployed or otherwise called to duty. An individual who fails to comply with these regulations receives an immediate discharge from service.

In 1981 there were over 8,000 single parents on active duty with the United States Air Force. This rising trend of single parenthood reflected the changes in society in which death; divorce or unwed parenthood became a growing trend in the population of the United States. This showed an increase of 62 percent when compared with the statistics gathered in 1976 (Bowen & Orthner, January, 1986). One difference when comparing the single-parents in the Armed Forces with those in the civilian world is that the single-parents in the military are mostly male while those in the civilian world are mostly female (Bowen & Orthner, January, 1986). Over 80% of the single-parents employed by the Air Force are divorced parents. This shows that the males in the Air Force are willing to take over the responsibility of raising their children after going through a divorce and that the courts are willing to allow these men to raise their children.

The rising trend of single parents in the Air Force raised concerns with the leadership of the Air Force in the ability of these parents to maintain their responsibility to military as well as their responsibility to their children. During the work week the extra duty and temporary duty demands resulted in the average work week of 46 hours for enlisted soldiers. The extra duty required for officers averaged out to 53 hours per week (Bowen & Orthner, January, 1986). This extra duty often required working through the evenings and on the weekends, time that is traditionally reserved as family time. As members of the military, single-parents could also be required to perform responsibilities that would require them to travel away from their home area. These temporary duty assignments averaged ten nights spent away from home during the year (Bowen & Orthner, January, 1986). Despite the demands placed upon single parents two-thirds of the members surveyed where satisfied with their jobs and 60% were planning on pursuing the Air Force as a career. The reasons given by the single parents included the unique combination of military benefits including the combination of job security and medical and dental services for them and their family.

As the changing demographics of the military has evolved from single males to various types of families units the militaries behavioral and social science research program was expanded from its original mission of the adaptation of the individual service member to understanding the adaption patters of the families of service members in adapting to the lifestyle changes required by the military lifestyle (Bowen, Gary, L; Orthner, Dennis, K; & Zimmerman, Laura, I, Jul, 1993). The concept of family adaptation is influenced by the perceived stressors, the perception of the situation and the resources or coping strategies available to deal with the stress. How a family unit restores the level of balance after a stressful situation is known as the level of family adaptation.

A difference of the military as a work organization compared to a civilian company is how intensely the military family is dominated by the requirements of the military. The military requires many sacrifices by the personal employed by the military and their family including frequent relocations, extended separations and the subservience of the needs of the family to the requirements and objectives of the military (Bowen, Gary, L; Orthner, Dennis, K; & Zimmerman, Laura, I, Jul, 1993). In exchange the military provides many economic and social supports to compensate the family for those sacrifices combined with a community lifestyle which allows the family members and service members an interpersonal support network (Bowen, Gary, L; Orthner, Dennis, K; & Zimmerman, Laura, I, Jul, 1993).

With the increase in the number of families involved in the military the ability of those families to adapt to the changes in their lives as one of there parents experiences deployments, extended work hours and orders that result in the family moving to new duty stations every few years. There is a link between the adaption of the family and the service member’s commitments and performance. In order to prevent the service member from being negatively effected by problems experienced by their family members the military attempts to increase the level of adaptability. While most of the studies that the military has sponsored while undertaking the task of understanding the family of the service members has focused more on two parent families then single parent households (Bowen, Gary, L; Orthner, Dennis, K; & Zimmerman, Laura, I, Jul, 1993)). This study focuses on the contribution of work stressors combined with the family and community resources as well as the Army support resources in how they affect the family adaptation of single parents. This research also separated male and female single parents so that the stressors and needs of each gender of parent can be examined.

Single parents represent only 2% of the personal in the Army they face special challenges due to the status of their households. Single parents face difficulties due to the regulations limiting their service or preventing reenlistment if they became single parents while on active duty. They also face possible discrimination from the military leadership who have questioned the commitment of single parents and their ability to deal with the demands of military life (Bowen, Gary, L; Orthner, Dennis, K; & Zimmerman, Laura, I, Jul, 1993). When compared to single parents in the civilian sector, those in the military face larger possibilities of role strain and conflict while fulfilling the responsibilities of their work and their families. When a service member is given an assignment by their commanding officer there are legal and social sanctions that will come into play if those orders are not completed. The responsibilities of family do not take precedence over lawful orders no matter how distasteful to the family or service member it may be (Bowen, Gary, L; Orthner, Dennis, K; & Zimmerman, Laura, I, Jul, 1993). Lawful orders include but are not limited to extra duty, extended tours of duty and temporary duty assignments away from home. Also unlike their civilian counterparts single parents in the Armed Forces are all employed in a job with reasonable job security with excellent benefits for them and their families. Single parents in the civilian world especially females face high unemployment or underemployment and a lack of support services including the access to medical services.

An indicator of how well a family will adapt to new situations is the presence of a support network assisting the parents and children in their adaptation. For single parents their involvement in an adult relationship would enhance their adaptation in a positive manner. Single parents experience positive social support when they were engaged in a supportive relationship with another adult. When the military single parents were surveyed for this study, a significant concern of single parenting was the lack of adult support (Bowen, Gary, L; Orthner, Dennis, K; & Zimmerman, Laura, I, Jul, 1993).

In this study the participants were required to answer survey questions that rated their family adaptation to Army life, work stress, family and community resources and relationship status. The questions regarding the adaptation of the family were rated on a scale of one to seven similar to a Likert scale. The work stressors were defined into two variables including work predictability and work stress. Work predictability was assed based upon six items that assed how predictable or unpredictable work demands were on the soldiers. The unpredictable aspects of their work included having to cancel leave or family plans due to work requirements (Bowen, Gary, L; Orthner, Dennis, K; & Zimmerman, Laura, I, Jul, 1993).

The results of this study through it had problems with over sampling of the officer population showed several key differences in the family adaptation of female single parents compared to their male counterparts (Bowen, Gary, L; Orthner, Dennis, K; & Zimmerman, Laura, I, Jul, 1993). The families of the single mothers serving in the Army reported a higher rate of family adaptation to military life. While the families led by females had a higher mean score of family adaptation, both the male and female single parents reported that their families were adjusting well to the changes in their lifestyle (Bowen, Gary, L; Orthner, Dennis, K; & Zimmerman, Laura, I, Jul, 1993). Single fathers reported a higher likelihood of work interfering unpredictably with there plans. The single mothers in comparisons reported higher levels of social support, family strength and greater support from Army command (Bowen, Gary, L; Orthner, Dennis, K; & Zimmerman, Laura, I, Jul, 1993). One area with the highest difference between the male and female single parents was that the male parents reported a higher earned income then the females. Due to these differences in the results separate regressions where undertaken with each sex being examined individually.

When the male single parent’s results were examined more closely three of the seven independent variables were shown to produce significant results. The higher scores of family adaptation were associated with a higher level of family strength, a more committed level of family strength and the support of Army policies (Bowen, Gary, L; Orthner, Dennis, K; & Zimmerman, Laura, I, Jul, 1993). An additional factor influencing the success of the family adaptation was the age of the children involved in the transition. If the children were over the age of five then the adaptation was more successful then if the children were younger (Bowen, Gary, L; Orthner, Dennis, K; & Zimmerman, Laura, I, Jul, 1993).

When the female single parent’s results were examined three out of the seven independent variables were shown to produce significant results. These three factors were higher family strength, higher family strength, and feeling support from Army policies (Bowen, Gary, L; Orthner, Dennis, K; & Zimmerman, Laura, I, Jul, 1993). In contrast with the male single parents the female single parents in the higher pay grades reported a higher family adaptation then those who were in the lower pay grades.

The demographics of the military work in favor for the single mother enlisted in the Army. While more males are accepting responsibility of their children and providing the majority of their care, the military’s orientation toward more traditional gender norms could result in single fathers being viewed with suspicion by their commanders and peers (Bowen, Gary, L; Orthner, Dennis, K; & Zimmerman, Laura, I, Jul, 1993). Single mothers are more common and accepted as a pattern in society and as such they tend to receive more support from the Army policies. Women make up only about 10% of active duty service members constituting a gender minority (Bowen, Gary, L; Orthner, Dennis, K; & Zimmerman, Laura, I, Jul, 1993). While this study was able to examine the differences between the male single parents and the female single parents serving in the military parents there were too many variables for the researchers to draw conclusions between the males and the females.

After this study was conducted events in the world precipitated a mass deployment of the various services to the Middle East. During the staging of the troops for deployment it was discovered that the majority of the single parents had not made the proper arrangements for the care of their children while they were deployed. This caused the deployment to be delayed resulting in a slower reaction time for the Armed Forces. After this event the regulation against single parents being active duty members of the Armed Forces has been in effect for many years. Until the early 1990’s when the Armed Forces was mobilized for the first Gulf War and thousands of military personal had to struggle to find care for their children before deployment caused the military to reexamine the regulations being enforced on their personal.

Due to the increase in single parents the ability of the Air Force to respond immediately to the situation in the Gulf Area was hurt due to the number of single parents who were not prepared for immediate deployment due to lacking prearranged care for their children. This resulted in the individuals being reassigned to different units leaving at different times creating situations in which deployed military units were not fully staffed for the mission requirements. For units going to a combat area being understaffed can result in higher casualties and increased risk.

In order to prevent a similar situation from occurring again the regulations on single parents were more strictly enforced to comply with the military primary mission of protecting the United States. Single parents were required to create Family Care plans detailing how their children would be cared for when the parent was deployed. These plans required the individual assuming responsibility for the children be available at a moments notice. Parents who were unable or unwilling to create these plans were dismissed from the Air Force so that they could care for the children without placing the primary mission of the Air Force at risk.

The demand the military places on families in order so that the military can complete their mission creates situations in which the demands of single-parenthood can be created without the financial difficulties experienced by many single-parents. The Air Force has 323,889 individuals on active duty, of those numbers 64,198 are officers and 259,691 are enlisted personal. 60.6 percent of these numbers are married. Out of this percentage 19,338 couples in the Air Force where both spouses are in the military.

Due to the possibility of extended deployment parents in the United States Air Force have the possibility of being solely responsible for their children while their spouse is deployed. Due to this fact of military life the responsibilities and demands of being a single-parent can and will be experienced by many spouses of military service members. In these instances they become a single-parent while still being married to their spouse and having access to two incomes. In order to assist families faced with this challenge the Air Force has established the Family Support Center in which families can receive the support that they need in order to meet the demands created by the family. Several of these services include the Air Force Aid Society (AFAS), the Relocation Assistance Program (RAP), the Transition Assistance Program (TAP), Family Life Education (FLE), and the Family Readiness Program (FRP).

In the article Attitudes toward Family Enrichment and Support Programs among Air Force Families examines the willingness of families employed by the U.S. Air Force to take advantage of the programs that focus on family enrichment and support put in place by the military. As the demographics of the military have changed from mainly single men to service members responsible for their family members the needs of these individuals have changed and programs have been implemented to assist these individuals (Orthner & Bowen, July 1982). Programs have been designed that assist families by providing counseling, communication training, and parental effectiveness classes.

This study examines the extent of the programs in location, availability, utilization by the military families and how the families respond to the programs. The military implemented these programs based on the increasing recognition that the effectiveness of the military was dependent upon the family being able to function with the added stress produced by the military experience (Orthner & Bowen, July 1982). The programs provided the skills and support that will assist these individuals in increasing the effectiveness of their relationships. Through research it has been found that the level of satisfaction with their family life is reflected in their job performance (Orthner & Bowen, July 1982). Individuals who are more satisfied with their family life perform better at work then people who are experiencing problems at home.

The data used in the study was collected from a sample of 331 U.S. Air Force married couples as well as 101 Air Force single parents throughout 16 bases located in the United States and Germany. The married couples were located through random selection while all of the single parents located on these bases were contacted and then the sample was analyzed to provide representational data on the various geographical areas and mission responsibilities (Orthner & Bowen, July 1982).

Information was collected through interviews through the use of professionally trained interviewers in a private situation. The interviews lasted one hour and 763 interviews were completed (Orthner & Bowen, July 1982). The data was analyzed through demographic and the various levels of parent- child relationships.

By analyzing the data two out of three Air Force parents were aware of some version of the parent-education program; however, females had a greater awareness of the programs then the males. While there was some awareness of the programs the majority of individuals in military households were not aware of the programs existence. When military families were made aware of the programs and how to enter the program less then 10% of the parents attended the classes (Orthner & Bowen, July 1982). The single parents who attended these classes described the classes as helpful none of them described it as very helpful. It was hypothesized that the classes did not meet the needs of the single parents through deficiencies in their design.

The military is aware of the stresses that being employed by the military places on the family structure and many of the classes offered assist married couples deal with the stress caused by deployment rather then the stress caused by being a single parent in an emotionally stressful job. By not designing the classes to assist both sets of parents employed by the military the single-parent does not have the access to the support groups that are essential for strengthening the family unit.

Due to the increasing number of parents who end up divorced many children are raised in a single-parent household. Using statistics found in 1978 approximately 12,000,000 children live in single parent households. Several concerns that were raised with the decline of the traditional nuclear family are the increase in childhood discontent, juvenile delinquency, and a wide range of other social problems (Bilge, & Kaufman, January 1983). The lack of the husband/father figure was also believed to create a situation in which the self-concept and psychosexual development of male children would be crippled (Bilge, & Kaufman, January 1983).

While this caused alarm among researches in the social sciences who viewed this increasing trend as detrimental to the basis of our society the impact on the children in these situations depends on the presence of supportive social networks and the attitudes of the culture toward the situation. Depending on these important variables the single-parent household can either be extremely successful or extremely dysfunctional. With a strong network of social support created by extended families or close friendships provide the single parent with the necessary support that will assist them in raising the children successful. When the single parent is isolated from friends and families the increased stress that single parenting creates has the potentially to detrimentally effect the children being raised in that environment.

This article focuses on how the family structure, marital relations, divorce rates, support systems, and social inequality affects the well being of the children in a cross-cultural study. The article explains the different types of family units throughout the world from the simple band societies to the more complex cultural situation in First World countries. While it does not specifically focus on the aspects of military family life and the challenges faced by single parent family units in the military it does provide an overview of the situation and the cultural difficulties faced by these families during the 1980’s. This article while wide in scope as it covers the structure of groups evolved through different generations. This is useful because it leads up to the difficulties in raising a child while being a single parent.

In the study Becoming Custodial Dads: Exploring Parenting among Low-Income and Working-Class African American Fathers the researchers examine the circumstances in which working-class and low-income African-American fathers gain custody of their children, the transition from part-time parents to a full time parent and the role of the support networks in either enhancing or inhibiting the parenting skills of these men.

Due to the changing social norms fathers no longer have to prove to a court that the mother of their child was unfit before seeking custody. Today they seek custody for several reasons including the mother being financially unable to care for their children due to mental or physical problems or due to a lack of commitment to the role of a full time parent. The father might also want to gain custody due to a desire to maintain their family or to honor their children’s wishes to live with their father.

The research on this subject has shown that once parental custody has been transferred to the father the men make the necessary adjustments to fulfill their parental roles. The fathers are able to provide for their children’s social, physical, and emotional well-being to the same extent that their mother can (Hamer & Marchioro, February, 2002). The traditional roles filled by the mother figure such as housekeeping, childrearing and nurturing are fulfilled by the father showing that males can successfully fill both roles of mother and father for their children. While these roles are not necessarily difficult the traditional roles of males as the provider and the female as the nurturer are occasionally difficult to overcome due to the unconscious conditioning of social roles.

The research also shows that single parents are more successful if they have effective support networks that can help provide the emotional and material support necessary for the well-being of the family unit. The fathers in single-parent families are more likely to use these support groups to help them understand the feelings and needs of their children. The more support received by the single-parent creates an atmosphere in which problems and stress levels appear to decrease. In the military due to the frequent changes in duty stations and long absences from their family’s single parents do not also have access to their extended family for support while raising their children. The military units due to the close living and working conditions occasional create more intense group patterns then co-workers in the civilian population. These extended ties allow the families additional support as their spouses are deployed on either a long term deployment or a shortened temporary duty assignment.

The military is aware of the stresses caused by long term deployments on the family unit. In order to minimize the amount of stress on the family unit and the member of the family deployed programs and initiatives have been created to help provide the necessary support which results in minimizing the negative effects of long term deployments. While the military’s main focus is in responding to situations requiring military force they understand that by providing for the dependents left at home creates an atmosphere where the service men and women can focus on the responsibilities of their jobs with the knowledge that their family left behind at home is supported by the branch of the military that they serve. Single parents who have completed the Family Care Plan also know that there children are taken care of, however, the individual watching their children are most likely off base and not close to the services located on base. While the children have access to these services by not being close to those services it is less likely for them to be utilized.

The research done by researchers over the years has virtually ignored a valued aspect of the population of the United States. The men and women who serve in the Armed Forces perform a vital service for our nation’s defense as they perform difficult and dangerous jobs that often take them away from their families for months at a time. Under the best of circumstances with two parents working together to raise their children the long separations, long work hours and other demands placed on the service member’s time by the military creates difficult situations. In these instances the difficulties of being a single parent are experienced by the married spouses of service members. For the service member experiencing the deployment they are secure in the knowledge that their children are being cared for in with all of the support of the programs designed by the military for these situations. The base support programs while assisting single parents receive more patronage from the married couples. For the individuals who serve in the nations Armed Forces while also being solely responsible for their minor children shoulder an increased burden that needs to be examined more thoroughly by both the researchers in the social sciences and the command of the Armed Forces.

New service members on arrival to their new duty location receive a handbook specific to the base with the location of all base services which include the parenting classes that are available to all parents serving on the base. The service members also have access to career counselors that will guide them through the adjustment to the new location. If there are conflicts with the new duty assignments the service members can speak with their commanding officer about possible conflicts with their assignments.


While single parents in the Armed Forces are decreasing through the policies and regulations of the armed forces it is still a significant number of individuals. As the possibility of becoming a single parent still exists through a divorce or the death of a spouse, single parents will remain involved in the Air Force. As long as the proper regulations are followed and the Family Care Plan created they will be allowed to remain on active duty. This means that while the number of single parents in the Air Force will decrease there will always be single parents in the military. While it is a difficult job and a difficult adaptation process for the families the benefits of being a member of the Armed Forces outweighs the difficulties of raising children in a single parent household. With this in consideration any research that is done will fulfill a need in understanding the unique requirements that this family situation has so that they can be better met. This will increase the effectiveness of these parents in raising their children and maintaining the responsibilities of being a member of the United States Air Force.


Air Force. Air Force 101: A Handbook for Civilians New to the Air Force. Family Support Center, Hill Air Force Base Utah. 2008. Web.

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Bowen, Gary L; Orthner, Dennis K. & Zimmerman, Laura, I. (1993). Family Adaptation of Single Parents in the United States Army: An Empirical Analysis of Stressors and Adaptive Resources. Family Relations 42(3), 293-304.

Bilge, B. & Kaufman, G. (1983). Children of Divorce and One-Parent Families: Cross-cultural Perspectives. Family Relations, 32(1), 59-71.

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Military Definitions

  • Family Care Plans – formal plan that single parents must complete in case of extended deployment.
  • Temporary Duty Assignments – a short term assignment located away from the home base.
  • Deployment – leaving with a unit for an extended period of time away from the home base.
  • MOS – Military Occupational Specialty – the job the enlisted or commissioned service member performs for the military.
  • Military Regulations – the rules and guidelines that govern the lives of the men and women in uniform.
  • Active Duty – full time duty in the active service of a uniformed military service.
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YourDissertation. "Single Parents in the Air Force: A Work-Life Balance." November 19, 2021.


YourDissertation. 2021. "Single Parents in the Air Force: A Work-Life Balance." November 19, 2021.


YourDissertation. (2021) 'Single Parents in the Air Force: A Work-Life Balance'. 19 November.

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