To enhance the well-being and resilience of Reserve and National Guard families, we propose to adapt a civilian evidence-based, family-strengthening program, Family Foundations (FF), and assess the feasibility of implementing it with Reserve and Guard families. The program's focus on the transition to parenthood period-and its documented effects with civilian families through at least child age three years-is well-suited to address the needs among reserve and guard families with young children. At the core of FF is recognition of the crucial role of positive coparenting support for facilitating the emotional, mental, and behavioral health of parents and children. Positive coparenting cooperation and support may serve as a leverage point to enhance the flexibility, capacity for family adaptation, and joint decision-making central to military family resilience. Research indicates that positive coparenting promotes parental self-efficacy, reduces parental stress and depression, and has positive influence on parenting quality. The program's focus on coparenting skills is supplemented by promotion of parent stress management, self-regulation, and behavioral control. These capacities enable parents to manage frustrations with reduced emotional reactivity, resulting in increased problem-solving and positive communication.
Aim 1. We will adapt the existing FF curriculum for civilian families to meet the needs of R/NG families (in line with PA-11-202). First, we will develop a version that incorporates values, themes, and issues relevant to military families. Second, based on our existing work developing a DVD/workbook version of FF and interactive web-based materials for parents of infants, we will develop the adapted program as an interactive, online program that families can access on their own at home.
Aim 2. We will conduct a pilot study of the program with couples to assess technical feasibility, engagement, user satisfaction, and efficacy. 120 R/NG couples expecting a child will be recruited and randomized to intervention or control conditions. We will measure parent engagement based on utilization data, and ask parents to report on whether the program is perceived as engaging, relevant, and helpful. We will administer pre-/posttest telephone interviews with participants to provide estimates of effects sizes on parent adjustment, coparenting, and parenting. We will conduct exploratory analyses of whether dosage (program usage) predicts outcomes, and whether program impact is moderated by sociodemographic factors.

Public Health Relevance

The stresses of the military family lifestyle, including deployment, contribute to parent mental health and substance use problems, family discord and violence, child abuse, and child mental health and behavior problems. This application will adapt an evidence-based civilian family-strengthening program, Family Foundations, for online administration with Reserve and National Guard families. Piloting will assess feasibility and outcomes.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development (NICHD)
Exploratory/Developmental Grants (R21)
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Social Psychology, Personality and Interpersonal Processes Study Section (SPIP)
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Maholmes, Valerie
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Pennsylvania State University
Schools of Allied Health Profes
University Park
United States
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