The Importance of Parents’ Community Connections for Adolescent Well-being : An Examination of Military Families


This paper examines how parents’ sense of community and community engagement have important outcomes for their children’s well-being.


Drawing from the Social Organization Theory of Action and Change (SOAC), this analysis of 223 military families, including active duty (AD) military and civilian partners, examines how parents' sense of community and community engagement (two elements of community connections) are associated with their own resilient coping, and ultimately with important outcomes capturing their adolescent offspring's individual well-being (depression, anxiety, and self-efficacy) and family well-being (family functioning and parenting quality). The roles of child gender and military context were also examined. Parents with stronger community connections, including greater sense of community and community engagement, reported more resilient coping when faced with adversity. The resilient coping of mothers, in turn, was particularly significant for more positive youth outcomes, when compared to that of fathers. While gender and military context were associated with individual and family well-being, analyses of model invariance indicated that the model fit similarly for male and female adolescents and those experiencing high and low levels of military transitions. Indirect effects were also examined. These findings illuminate malleable dimensions of both community life and family life, primarily showing that community contexts matter for multiple family members.

Full Reference

O'Neal, Catherine Walker ; Mallette, Jacquelyn K. ; Mancini, Jay A. (2018). The importance of parents' community connections for adolescent well-being : an examination of military families. American Journal of Community Psychology. Vol: 61 (1-2), p. 204-17.