‘Once we’ve just connected, we are broken apart’
: A qualitative exploration of the views of primary-school children from military families

  • Amanda Hayllar

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Educational Psychology (DEdPsy)


This thesis contributes to the current evidence base and understanding of children's experiences of being in a military family and how this impacts upon their wellbeing and education. It presents the findings of a qualitative research study that explored a group of primary-school-age military-connected-children's (n=8) perceptions of how they feel about having a parent in the military; how the lifestyle has impacted upon them positively and negatively; and what is important to them in terms of support at home and school.  

The participants identified negatives associated with their lifestyle more readily than positives. Using thematic analysis, data collected from semi-structured interviews was organised into three main themes containing a number of subthemes. The first theme concerned the negative impacts of growing up within a military family and contained challenges largely associated with mobility and parental deployment. The second theme concerned positives identified by the children, which were largely perceived as practical. The last theme contained a number of strategies the children identified as useful for their coping, including building relationships with others, maintaining connections to absent fathers and friends, feeling empathy and understanding from others and having access to information.  

The findings are discussed in relation to four psychological constructs: belonging, attachment, resilience and bio-ecological systems theory. Implications for parents and professionals working with this group are suggested, as well as recommended next steps for research.
Date of Award6 Nov 2018
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Bristol
SupervisorBeth Tarleton (Supervisor) & Jak L Lee (Supervisor)

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