Nice Coverage of My Terre Haute, IN Talk on Military Dads

Brott, Military Father

Author Helps Deployed Dads with Home-Front Issues
Brott, Military FatherThis article ran on the AP wire and also appeared in The Military Times.
Oct. 2, 2014

By Howard Greninger
The (Terre Haute, Ind.) Tribune-Star via AP

Staff Sgt. Shawn Oxford of the Indiana Air National Guard said he knows what it’s like to come home after a military deployment.

“Things are definitely different when you come back, such as kids (initially) listening more to the parent who stayed at home. It does take some getting used to, but it is nice to know you are not the only one,” Oxford said.

He was among more than 50 members of the 181st Intelligence Wing Wednesday to hear a presentation from Armin A. Brott, who has written several books for dads, including his book, “The Military Father — A Hands-on Guide for Deployed Dads.” Brott is known as Mr. Dad.

Brott said he decided to write the book after he heard statements such as “my husband just came back from deployment and every time a door slams around here, he dives under a table. Or something from the mom or dad, that their 2-year-old daughter comes up from behind to give a hug, and I almost threw them out a window,” he told the Tribune-Star.

Brott served in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1976 to 1978, entering the service at age 17.

In his presentation to the Intelligence Wing at the Terre Haute International Airport-Hulman Field, Brott said there are different challenges facing families in active duty and reserve deployment.

One is finances.

“Young enlisted guys, or girls, are not making a lot of money, and they tend to live on the base,” he said. The young enlisted, Brott said, also tend to be targets of predatory loans and have a high rate of bankruptcy. “The average credit rating for active duty is 592, while the civilian reserve has a 692 credit rating,” he said.

The guard or military reservists may have a good job in their civilian life, but have a lower rank and earning less in the military. “If they get deployed, they have some financial issues to deal with because there is a long stretch of time where they are not making enough money to make ends meet. There is also the opposite effect of someone who has a good military income, but low civilian income. If there is a deployment, they get used to having that extra money and start buying things on credit. But when the deployment is over, they have all those bills to pay, so (they) end up in the same spot with difficulties managing finances,” he said.

Military personnel today also are more likely to see combat. In World War II, about 15 percent of veterans saw combat, while in the Vietnam War it was closer to 30 percent. “In Iraq and Afghanistan, it was closer to 70 to 80 percent who saw combat,” he said. Yet, Brott said, that does not mean there is a bigger connection of those in combat to post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms, especially when compared with another military problem of suicide, he said.

“Half of the people who commit suicide in the military, and it is a problem, were never deployed. Eighty percent of those committing suicide never saw combat,” he said.

Brott said active duty families often have support of being on bases and with people of similar situations. Reserve-duty dads, when deployed, go through feelings of shock, fear, anger and uncertainty, particularly before a first deployment. At the same time, their spouses can feel withdrawal and an emotional distance.

Capt. John Petrowski said he appreciated that Brott was able to show both sides of the deployed and a spouse at home. “Both face challenges and fears going into deployment. Plus the stress (of the spouse) at home with the kids. We have always said the toughest job is for the person who stays at home,” he said.

Petrowski said technology, such as Skype, can sometimes become too distracting to the person serving overseas, as well as a hardship on the person at home. “If the lawn mower is broken and you are in Afghanistan, it doesn’t do you any good to know that. Let’s just get the lawn mower fixed and not pass that on” to the deployed spouse, Petrowski said.

Brott said children react to deployment and returning from a deployment in different ways. “Yet all kids just want to know how it affects ‘me,’ your going away or your return, how will it affect ‘me.’ They have no other concerns, really and truly,” he said.

For infants, he suggests the deployed person record themselves reading stories. Toddlers do not understand time and can lash out verbally when a parent is gone. Pre-school and elementary children still have “the me thing going. We need to be reassuring that they understand what is going on. Give the child something to hold onto, something of value, so they feel connected to you and feel connected to what you are doing and your return.”

For children age 8 to 12, talking and listening to questions is important. For teens, “they can be sullen, can push you away or have behavioral problems, but the difficulty is being sullen or withdrawing or just being annoying sometimes is basic teen behavior. To separate out what is normal for a teen to what is normal for a teen with a parent who is deployed is difficult. Talking and listening is still important,” he said.

Senior Airman Anna Dennis said she appreciated the presentation. Dennis said that while she does not have children and could not directly relate to that discussion, “I didn’t think about the different ages of children and how they react” to a deployment, Dennis said.

The original article apppeared here.

Redefining What it Means to Be a Family

Ross Parke, author of Future Families.
Topic:
Diverse forms, rich possibilities.
Issues: Redefining “family”; changing parental roles; are two mothers (or fathers) good enough?; are multiple caregivers helpful or harmful?; how many “parents” are too many? (insights from the world of assisted reproductive technologies; overcoming the barriers to change.

Bumping Into Breastfeeding

Dear Mr. Dad: My wife is breastfeeding our new baby and when I look at them, they’re so connected and I feel completely useless. I try to do other stuff like baths and diaper changing, but feeding seems so much more important. One of my projects was to set up the nursery. I got the crib and changing table all set up and my wife told me we needed crib bumpers so the baby wouldn’t bang her head on the slats of the crib. A friend told me that crib bumpers are a bad idea. So I’ve got two questions: What can I do to feel less useless when my wife is breastfeeding? And should I get bumpers for the baby’s crib?

A: Let’s start with the second one. For readers who don’t already know, crib bumpers are soft pads that run along the inside of the crib and are designed to do exactly what your wife says: keep the baby from running into the slats or bars and getting hurt. Bumpers sound like a great idea, and millions of people—including me—have used them for decades. But new research shows that bumpers could actually be more dangerous than the injuries they’re trying to protect against.
[Read more…]

Inflexible Flexibility: What Happens When Dad Gets on the Mommy Track

Dear Mr. Dad: My wife is due with our first in about four months, so I though now would be a good time to talk to my employer about taking time off under the Family Leave Act and possibly making some more permanent changes to my schedule so I can be a more hands-on dad. I mentioned this to a friend who used to work with me, and he warned me to be very careful. He said that after he took paternity leave, he was passed over for a promotion and got a smaller bonus. He eventually quit. I find that hard to believe, but he insists it’s true. Are companies really allowed to do that?

A: Theoretically, no. Under the Federal version of Family and Medical Leave Act, your job is protected and your employer isn’t allowed to penalize you in any way. (Some states have their own Family Leave programs and the rules may be different, so I encourage you to look into both very carefully.) Unfortunately, there’s sometimes a big disconnect between what companies are allowed to do what they actually do. And even if the company itself does everything exactly by the book, individuals within the company—meaning your managers and coworkers—can always find a way to skirt the law.
[Read more…]

Recruiting Dads and Kids For a Paid Study at UCSF

Researchers at UC San Francisco are looking for 7-12 year old boys and girls and their fathers to participate in a study of parent and child social interactions.

This study involves: A single 90 minute lab visit that includes several shared interactions between you, your child, and members of our research staff. We are interested in individuals’ physiology during social interactions so we will use skin sensors to measure things like heart rate and blood flow. In addition, a set of questionnaires will be completed, at your convenience, prior to the lab visit.

Benefits of this study: You will receive $80 for completing the study and your child will receive a small thank you gift. Also, you will be contributing to the knowledge of child development while engaging in new experiences with your child!

If you are interested in participating, please email or call:
Sara Waters
650-380-6835
parentstudyUCSF@gmail.com
Emotion, Health, and Psychophysiology Lab
Director: Wendy Berry Mendes, Ph.D
University of California-San Francisco

See the flyer for the UCSF Study here.

Do Fathers Matter?

Paul Raeburn, author of Do Fathers Matter?
Topic:
What science tells us about the parent we’ve overlooked.
Issues: What do fathers do? The father’s important role in child children’s life from conception through the teen years; how being a father (or father-to-be) actually rewires men’s brains; What we need to do to support and encourage fathers.