Information for Mental Health Providers Working with Children who have Chronic Illnesses

Parent Adjustment When a Child Experiences a Chronic Illness

Author(s): Laura Nabors

Pp: 109-126 (18)

DOI: 10.2174/9781608058907114010010

* (Excluding Mailing and Handling)


This chapter reviews literature associated with parent adjustment when a child has a chronic illness. This is an important topic, because an ill child is a terrible stressor for the vast majority of parents. There are, of course, the emotional strains, as well as the burden of providing care and the financial burden that can come with the child’s chronic illness. Parental reactions can trigger child reactions, such that supporting the parent is a means of supporting the child as well as the family unit. Parent anxiety, depression, and somatic complaints can impact child adjustment and emotional functioning. Being a single parent can also be a risk factor. Social and financial support may be resilience factors for parents, whereas poor family functioning prior to the onset of the child’s illness is a potential risk factor for smooth family functioning. A multifaceted plan for supporting parents, the family and child, may be a protective factor for ensuring positive outcomes if a family had been coping poorly before the onset of the child’s illness. Continuing to monitor parent functioning is an important goal for ensuring that parents have the support they need to deal with the significant stress of a child’s illness.

Keywords: Caregiving burden, emotional stress, parental adjustment, parent depression, single parents, supporting parents.

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