Military Kids Look to Extracurricular Activities to Cope With Parents' Deployment

"Giving kids a chance to just think about other things for a while is a very good thing, but I also think that there's something very helpful about being with other people who you know really understand what you're going through," she said.

And it's this constructive support which military children need, said Davidson.

While not the daughter of a service member, Davidson's own experiences as a parent helped her to understand the situation in which military children find themselves.

"I have grown children. I knew how important extracurricular activities were in their lives," she said. "I wanted to be able to help other families be able to provide that for their children while they're serving our country and protecting my family."

Mixed Emotions

Children who have a parent deployed overseas to a war zone like Afghanistan or Iraq often feel a great deal of pride for their parents' work -- but even such feelings of patriotism are confusing, said Michelle Joyner of the National Military Family Foundation.

"As a child, it's very difficult to reconcile [that patriotism] with, you know, 'You're not here to teach me how to drive,' or the disappointment of not being able to go to a father-daughter dance," she said. "We're assigning children to reconcile very adult emotions in their young bodies."

MacDermid Wadsworth said it's common for children of military parents to experience stress during a parent's deployment, and the coping abilities of the at-home parent heavily influences their well-being.

"The evidence that we have suggests that many children experience a sense of anxiety and they worry about their deployed parents," she said, adding that most children do not require clinical treatment as part of their coping process.

Though researchers do not have concrete statistics to compare children's effects from Operation Enduring Freedom to wars of eras past, some believe that the current military conflicts might have the most widespread number of children who have been impacted by a family member's deployment.

"Anecdotally, we know that there are much more children that have been impacted by these wars than by the previous wars, based on the number of dependents," said Joyner, adding that siblings of young, deployed servicemen are equally as involved in the coping process.

She said new ways of sharing information -- such as the installation of embedded reporters and a quicker modern news cycle -- has exposed today's children to more ongoing war coverage than in any other era, a change that has drastically increased demand for support services for military children.

"Children were exposed to a lot more day-to-day information about the wars," she said, "[and] when the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan started ... we were hearing a lot from parents saying, 'Give me resources to help my kid.'"

Denise Gonzalez understands the mixed feelings her daughters now experience.

"It's his choice to be in the military, it's my choice to be his wife," she said. "But the kids have no choice. It's their uncontrolled situation."

'It's Just Quiet'

Jasmine Warren, 13, a Douglasville, Ga., native, is very familiar with deployments.

Her father, Army Staff Sgt. Stephen Warren, twice has served overseas with the National Guard -- once in Iraq, and most recently, in a 15-month pre-departure training and deployment to Afghanistan. He said he might be sent on a third deployment within the next two years.

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