Because Parenting is Hard Enough, Let’s Throw Cancer in it too!
by aller1 on October 22, 2013 - 12:17am
This article discusses researched strategies on common themes when dealing with a child with cancer. Having to cope and progress in the care of a child with cancer can be intimidating, and many challenges are sure to arise. This article explains that there are many factors that are consideration when caring for a child with cancer between families. These factors include: parenting styles and strategies, psycho-social management, the child’s age, siblings, emotional support, stages of treatment, discipline, and the parents’ availability for the patient. After conducting interviews with parents and adolescents, there were familiar themes throughout the child and adolescent age groups as well as common themes between the two. A common theme amongst parents of children was the parental strategies of relaxing discipline, bribing, and spoiling children. While parents tried their best to maintain discipline strategies consistent with strategies that existed before cancer, many parents reported increased spoiling for both the ill child and their siblings even after cancer treatment. A major common theme amongst adolescents and the parents was regressive parenting. Regressive parenting was very frustrating for the parent; having to keep constant attention on their teenager and using strategies as if they were a young child or infant was exhausting. For a small number of parents, a common theme associated with caring for an adolescent with cancer was keeping a routine schedule for them. Parents used both direct and indirect strategies to facilitate ‘normality’ during and after cancer treatment. A common theme for both parents of children and adolescents and their parents was increased intimacy, closeness, and emotional support. Some specific factors reported include: increased time together, discussing topics that wouldn’t normally be discussed amongst ‘typical’ families, and the unique experiences of having cancer (e.g., physical adapting, emotional concerns). Another theme was differential parenting; both sets of parents gave an increase in emotional and physical attention after the treatment. A final theme between the two groups was parental protectiveness—both sets of parents reported withholding certain information in regards to their cancer in an attempt to protect them.
The main conclusion in this article is that there are common aspects of parenting when caring for a child with cancer. There are six common themes regarding parenting to a childhood cancer diagnosis. These themes are parenting strategies, regressive parenting, structured parenting, parental protectiveness, disciplining, and psychological parenting. Having a child with cancer in a family impacts everyone, and certain considerations (e.g, age of patient/siblings) can emerge variability when caring for a child with cancer. This article does not take any specific associations with the kind of cancer diagnosed in the child, but takes a more standard approach in discussing the parenting styles and adaptations that come with cancer (e.g. hairloss, chemo, doctor visits). This article also took the parents’ perspectives of dealing with a child with cancer at various stages. Some parents/adolescents discussed situations and strategies during diagnosis, and some during active treatment or post-treatment. This article talks about the importance of parenting processes that can initiate throughout cancer diagnosis and treatment. For example, the strategy of bribery on children is encouraged not to be done by parents, and its importance revolves around the dislike of spoiling a child because of their diagnosis of cancer.