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.


Cancer in children is something that everyone can sympathize with. Personally, I have a lot (too much) experience with cancer and how it affects families. However, I have never had to experience cancer in a child, so this article gave me a perspective on something that I have never had. It must be hard for any parent to try not to spoil their sickly child, so it is not hard to believe that that was a commonality between multiple parents of ill children. The research you found seems credible and backed by evidence, which is a very good thing.
Your writing is clear and to the point. You summarized the research very well, without using too many scientific words that have the possibility of confusing a reader. The only suggestion I have is to change up some of the repetitive phrases such as "common theme." Perhaps you could use the word "similarity" instead? Either way, very nice job!

I have personally gone through an experience with a younger sibling having cancer. I find that the parenting theme to be most true in my situation is the one where they spoil the child that is ill. It is interesting to read about all of the other ways that parents act in these situations. I don’t blame the parents for changing their ways because this should not be a normal situation for a family to go through. I am not saying they are right or wrong but it happens. This article is very interesting and I am glad that you were able to write about it and provide information on a lot of different parenting ways through these struggles.

Your post really caught my attention because I can relate personally to a lot of the points you discussed. A few years ago my little sister had a stroke. Although it is not cancer, it is similar in the way that parents and family members have to deal with it. You are very right in the fact that there are many factors when taking care of a sick child, such as parenting styles, emotional support, and discipline. While my sister was in the hospital, my family and I had a lot of family members and friends visit us to give emotional support, which was extremely helpful. My parents were never home since they were always in the hospital, and therefore I had to take care of myself for a few months, so their parenting paused when it came to me, but I obviously understood that our family had to make sacrifices in this time. When my sister got out of the hospital, it was very difficult for all of us to take care of a 12 year old girl who was relearning how to walk and do simple tasks. It was as if my parents had to raise a baby all over again. My parents also had a really hard time disciplining my sister because they felt so bad for her, they just gave her whatever she wanted.
I think your topic is awesome and I know there are other people like me who can relate personally to it. Your post talks about many themes, and maybe in the future you could focus on one or two themes and go into more depth about them. You could possibly discuss how these themes affect the family as a whole, since siblings are affected just as much as parents in situations like this.

This post caught my eye because I have dealt with cancer in my direct family, but this put a different perspective on it. I was a kid dealing with a parent with cancer. But this article is about parents dealing with their own child with cancer. I can get how it could be a difficult thing for parents to let their teens with cancer "off the leash". The parents want to be able to know if their child is okay but at the same time let them be a teenager.The research in the article seems very honest and credible and your summary was very clear and understandable and not confusing.i thought all together it was a very good topic to pick and a good, well written follow up.

Hi aller1,
I really like your article, I found it very interresting and full of content.

Children with cancer and so their parents can refer to sources, help. it is important to remember that they are not alone in this situation, there are organization for this, like Opération Enfant Soleil.
The organization “Opération Enfant Soleil” is a non-profit organization that raises funds to support the development of quality pediatrics and contribute to the implementation of social intervention projects for all children in Quebec. There is also more than $ 210 million that has been donated to major pediatric centers, regional hospitals and organizations across the province.

The organization’s biggest project is the “Téléthon” who’s held each year for 30 years. Last year the Téléthon raised 20 107 287$, for children to heal better.

For 2017, there are ways you can volunteer, give your help to those in need. Opération Enfant Soleil is leading many various fund-raising campaigns throughout the year, such as “Cartes de souhaits”, “Porte ton pyj”, “Relis don”, “Resto Soleil”, “Défi Country”, “Ô Quilles!”, “Opération Halloween”, and so many others. After all, it is with small act that we arrive to big things. To be a part of these various fund-raising campaigns, simply contact the organization itself: 514 380-2323. To become a volunteer the first thing to do is to fill up the “Volunteer Offer Form”, you also have to be aged more than 18 years old.