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Parenting in the face of childhood life-threatening conditions: The ordinary in the context of the extraordinary

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  14 October 2015

Kim Mooney-Doyle*
The Center for Global Women's Health and The Center for Health Equity Research, University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Janet A. Deatrick
Center for Health Equity Research, University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Kim Mooney-Doyle, University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing, 418 Curie Boulevard, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania19104. E-mail:



Uncovering what it means to be a parent during the extraordinary time of a child's life-threatening condition (LTC) is important for understanding family goals, decision making, and the work of parenting within this context.


Qualitative descriptive methods were employed to describe the everyday experience of parenting both children who have an LTC and their healthy siblings.


Some 31 parents of 28 children with an LTC who have healthy siblings participated in our study. Four themes emerged from the data that describe a parental desire to maintain emotional connection with all of their children, how parents use cues from their children to know them better and develop parenting strategies, how parents change as a result of caring for a child with an LTC, and how they strive to decrease suffering for all of their children.

Significance of results:

The findings of our study have implications for clinical practice, family-focused research, and health policy pertaining to families of children with life-threatening conditions.

Original Articles
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2015 

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