The Free Press, Mankato, MN

St. Peter news

November 10, 2013

Military families learning to ADAPT

U of M seeing Mankato military families for parenting program

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She said the couple began with the program in February and received 14 weeks of training. For the next four years they will periodically meet with an ADAPT researcher to provide updates.

Through the program Katie said they’ve learned new communication skills with both each other and their children, who are now 6 and 8. She said they learned how to better listen to their kids and allow them to have a voice.

Thad Shunkwiler of Mankato, a faculty researcher in the U of M department of family social science, will be recruiting more Mankato-area families for the study through the end of the year.

The $3.2 million project was funded through the National Institute of Drug Abuse and National Institutes of Health and was based on the long-term parenting study by Marion Forgatch and Gerald Patterson, which examined the impact of parenting on development.

With war being a part of the lives of many families nationwide the past decade, researchers determined a study should be done on the needs of military families for effective parenting techniques after deployments, Shunkwiler said.

Studies show more than 10 percent of troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan will have post-traumatic stress disorder. And 20 percent return to no job, which adds stress to parenting.

Focusing on Minnesota National Guard and Reserve families, Shunkwiler said the purpose of the research project is to test the effectiveness of ADAPT. Although too early in the process to say definitively, the goal could be to make the program available to the military as a tool to help deployed troops transition back into family life, as well as help their families normalize again.

Through interviews and monitoring, researchers are determining whether ADAPT techniques affect their children’s behavioral and emotional problems, among other things.

“We’re finding families who take the time to go through the program are finding higher amounts of parental satisfaction,” Shunkwiler said. “Our intervention is working.”

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