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Do adolescents do and feel better when their absent military parents communicate with them from afar and are supportive?

Raised of $4,177 Goal
Funded on 12/21/16
Successfully Funded
  • $4,177
  • 100%
  • Funded
    on 12/21/16

About This Project

Separations between parents and adolescents challenge adolescents' optimal functioning. Using survey methodology and quantitative analyses, we will describe the quantity and quality of communication between Israeli military parents and their adolescents when the parents are routinely away from home. We will also describe the benefits of long distance communication for the adolescents' functioning. Findings will inform programs promoting family communication.

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What is the context of this research?

Several lines of scientific inquiry motivated our research. The first pertains to the links between the long family separations due to US military deployments and the functioning of military-connected children of different ages, including adolescents (Ref. 6 & 7). Another line of inquiry pertains to the increasing role of technology-assisted communication as a means of building and maintaining relationships between members of the family (Ref. 8). Our research is also grounded in conceptualizations of interpersonal communication (Ref. 2 & 5), parent-child interaction (Ref. 1), and our empirical findings (Ref. 3). There is no information about communication from afar in Israeli military families where parents routinely don't see their children for two weeks at a time.

What is the significance of this project?

Variations in the quantity and quality of distance communication and the links between such variations and the adjustment of adolescents who cannot interact face to face with one of their parents due to their parents' long-term deployments (e.g., six months at a time) have only begun to be investigated in the US military context (Ref. 3). The evidence suggests wide variations in communication and that supportive distance communication is linked to better adolescent adjustment. The proposed study will provide information about distance communication when military parents are routinely unavailable for face-to-face communication for short periods of time (e.g., two weeks at a time), thereby extending our understanding of the conditions under which distance communication is useful.

What are the goals of the project?

We will first translate three surveys (adolescent; mother; father) from English to Hebrew. The translation will be done by a professional survey company TNS teleseker. This is important because we need to make sure that the translation is scientifically and culturally accurate and valid. We are crowdfunding for this step of our research. Following some pilot work with about 15 military families, we will contact by email and phone about 800 married professional members of the Israeli Defense Force. Our goal is to recruit 200 families in which the father, mother and adolescent (age 11 to 18) agreed to participate in our study. Once we have recruited and consented/ assented our sample, the fathers, mothers and adolescents will fill in our online questionnaires.


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We are asking for $ 4,177 for translating three surveys from English to Hebrew. We have three overlapping surveys: one for the mothers (the longest), the second for the fathers and the third for adolescents (the shortest). The surveys include questions about demographics, relationships between members of the family, distance communications between the adolescents and the parents who are away and the functioning of the adolescents. One of us with her US colleagues developed the survey questions about distance communication and borrowed from existing measures of family demographics, family relationships and child functioning. We used the surveys in our research with English-speaking research participants (Ref. 3 & 4). The budget figures for translation (inclusive of 17% value added tax) were obtained from, a leading market research organization in Israel. With the translated surveys in hand we will launch our planned research.

Endorsed by

Interesting and important research about a very significant topic concening families and army. Meytal Eran-Jona is a great and important researcher in the field. Love her work.
This study examines family relationships when one parent is away for long periods. It combines sociology and psychology aiming to shed light on communication patterns between adolescents and parents. This research will contribute for better understanding of theoretical issues such as distance communication and raising children from afar and can practically assist parents to maintain better relationship with their afar families.
I am very excited about this project. Knowing more about communication between absent parents and their teenage children will contribute in a major way to our understanding of the ways new technologies are being used by families to stay in touch. It will also help us provide support for military families around the world. Finally this project will create a set of research instruments that can be used in many other studies.
This is an important project assessing the damage to children development as a result of not enough communication with their parents. The results can be a reminder for policy makers that shorter work days for appropriate income could be a way to invest in children’s and families’ future.
These are world-class researchers with a first-rate research plan for studying an important issue.
I am excited about this project. Study of communication between parents and adolescents in the context of military deployment is important to understanding bases for improving these relationships and adolescent functioning. Extending these questions to Israeli parents and adolescents, including Israeli military fathers, is an innovative direction, including the promise for the development of significant new measures.
This is an important and interesting project. It will contribute to knowledge about communication between military parents and their adolescent children during separations due to military duties. The role of technology is increasing in such communications. I look forward to seeing the results of this worthwhile project by a highly qualified team.
I strongly endorse the research project of Dr. Sarah Friedman, a Research Professor at The George Washington University, and her colleagues, Drs. Avi Sagi-Schwartz and Meytal Eran Jona. Dr. Friedman has a long and distinguished career as a scholar. This cutting-edge cross-cultural research will provide basic information about the impact of parent-child separation and the impact of mediated versus face-to-face interaction on youth development. At an applied level, the findings will guide best practices for parent-child communication patterns.

Meet the Team

Sarah L. Friedman
Sarah L. Friedman
Research Professor


1. The George Washington University, USA; 2. Haifa University, Israel
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Meytal Eran Jona
Meytal Eran Jona


IDF BSC Behavioral Sciences Center and Haifa University
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Abraham Sagi-Schwartz
Abraham Sagi-Schwartz
Professor of Psychology and Child Development


University of Haifa
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Team Bio

The team consists of Drs. Sarah Friedman, Avi Sagi Schwartz and Meytal Eran Jona. The first two are experts in developmental psychology and have known each other for many years. After Dr. Friedman read the inspiring publications of Dr. Eran Jona on the topic of Israeli military families, she first wrote to and later met with Dr. Eran Jona. The three investigators who collaborate at a distance were born in Israel and wish to improve conditions for Israeli youth through scientific evidence.

Sarah L. Friedman

I have always been interested in people and the conditions that shape them. This led me to study literature for my BA, educational psychology for my MA and child development for my Ph.D. My core interest was also expressed in my work in the area of child development and education.

My scientific papers and edited books address a wide range of topics. Most recently, my research has focused on child care and children’s psychological and health development, on the development of children's planning skills and on military connected children whose life conditions present unique stresses and opportunities which were unexplored until very recently.

I find the study of distance communication fascinating. It is part of the life of everybody I know. It is an important tool that can be used to bring people closer or to offend them. And yet, we know very little about the conditions that shape the frequency of its use, the way it is used or the consequences of its use for relationships and for psychological adjustment. I believe that the results of the proposed study will contribute to such understanding and to a public education campaign.

Meytal Eran Jona

I am a senior sociologist and head a research center at the IDF (Israeli Defence Forces) BSC- Behavioral Sciencesc Center.

My area of expertise are:

Organizational Sociology

Military families

Gender issues in the military

Civil Military Relations in Israel

Public opinion

Abraham Sagi-Schwartz

My main research interests are in the area of attachment and socioemotional development across the life span and across cultures. In recent years, I have studied socioemotional development and adaptation under extreme life circumstances and experiences, especially the effects of the Holocaust as well as other violent political conflicts. I have a special interest in transforming basic knowledge generated by child development research to various policies and interventions that may advance the well-being of children across the world. Within this context, I am currently the academic head of the newly launched International MA Program in Child Development for Developing Countries at the University if Haifa.

Additional Information


1. Borkowski, J. G., Ramey, S. L., & Bristol-Power, M. (Eds.). (2002). Parenting and the child's world: Influences on academic, intellectual, and social-emotional development. New York: Psychology Press.

2. Dillard, J. P., Solomon, D. H., & Palmer, M. T., (1999). Structuring the concept of relational communication. Communication Monographs, 66, 49-65. doi:10.1080/03637759909376462

3. Friedman, S.L., Sigelman, C.K., Rohrbeck, C.A., and del Rio-Gonzalez, A.M. (2016). Quantity and Quality of Communication during Parental Deployment: Links to Adolescents’ Functioning. Applied Developmental Science.

4. Jazi, E.S., Leival, E.K., Friedman, S.L., Sigelman, C.K., and Rohrbeck, C.A. (June 27, 2016). Factors Associated with Communication between deployed parents and their children. Poster presented at the National Training Seminar of Military Child Education Coalition. Washington DC.

5. Koerner, A. F., & Fitzpatrick, M. A. (2002). Toward a theory of family communication. Communication Theory, 12, 70–91.

6. Maholmes, V. (2012). Adjustment of children and youth in military families: Toward developmental understanding. Child Development Perspectives. 6, 430-435.

7. Park, N. (2011). Military children and families: Strengths and challenges during peace and war. American Psychologist, 66, 65-72. doi:10.1037/a0021249

8. Webb, L. M., Ledbetter, A. M., & Norwood, K. M. (2015). Families and technologically assisted communication. In L. H. Turner & R. West (Eds.), The SAGE handbook of family communication (pp. 354-369). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Project Backers

  • 35Backers
  • 100%Funded
  • $4,177Total Donations
  • $115.33Average Donation
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