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Can a phone app help military fathers adjust to family life?

As we've discussed on our blog before, military life can prove to be very challenging for married couples as they are often forced to contend with everything from demanding work conditions and frequent relocations to regular deployments that result in spouses spending weeks or even months away from home.

It's also important to understand, however, that military life can prove to be very challenging in terms of parenting. Specifically, studies have shown that the rigors of serving in our nation's armed forces can be particularly hard for fathers, many of whom report feelings of separation or detachment from their children whether they are returning home from lengthy deployments or spending long hours in otherwise stressful positions here at home.

Fortunately, help may be on the horizon courtesy of researchers at the University of Michigan, who have developed a new tool for helping military dads looking for help on the home front. 

The help in question is actually a smartphone app that the researchers have dubbed Mobile Dad.

Developed at the request of U.S. Air Force officials, who were concerned about the impact that the fatherhood struggles of airmen were having on productivity, the app is designed to provide fathers with short and consistent updates about everything from developmental milestones for their kids and activity suggestions to fatherly advice and even advice on how to manage their own feelings.

 "It's a little snippet about your baby's development. If you have a six-month-old, that's about the time they start eating solid food, [so] it will say 'visit the mobile app to find out more about solid food,'" said one of the app developers.

Mobile Dad has only been available to a select testing group of military families thus far. However, those fathers who have tried it are delivering positive feedback.

For example, one Army captain forced to spend five months away from his family for training called it "very helpful" and stated that it helped remind him of just how different kids can be.

The app developers have indicated that Mobile Dad could be available to the public as soon as next month.

It should be interesting to see just how effective Mobile Dad proves to be in helping military dads stay connected with their families and, by extension, whether it could actually help lower the overall military divorce rate.

Source: KCEN TV, "Mobile dad app helps military fathers stay connected with family," March 25, 2014

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