Methods: This study employed a systematic program development process to adapt the civilian SFP: 10-14 curriculum for use with military families. The goal of the adapted program was to make the program content more relevant to the unique characteristics of military culture and the needs of military families. Toward this end, we conducted focus groups and key informant interviews with military members, spouses, and stakeholders (n=32) to inform adaptations of content, illustrative family situations, discussion topics in parent, youth, and family program sessions.
Results: Major topics and themes identified through the focus groups and interviews included the following:
- The transitions and instability experienced by military families experience often make it difficult to follow through on plans or stick to routines, generating family and child stressors.
- Military children often feel isolated, are bullied, or are often asked to take on adult roles while a parent is away, and are concerned about the well-being of their military parent.
- Military parents often experience difficulty consistency in parenting through relocation and deployment transitions.
- Military parents struggle to communicate with their children, and each other, about a variety of topics, such as how much they should share about their military experiences.
- Military parents may have difficulty providing positive feedback and compliments to their children, as well as transitioning out of the “military” mindset as they go from work to home life.
We then integrated these topics into the examples, scenarios, activities, and resources provided to families receiving the adapted curriculum to provide a forum for practicing and building skills.
Conclusions: We used a systematic process to identify ways to tailor the program experience to feel more authentic to military families, to address their unique needs, and to build on their perceived strengths such as embodying resilience. Topics discovered during our formative research, such as those concerning deployment, reintegration, and transition, were considered critical and incorporated into the adaptation of the SFP: 10-14 for military families.