Children Coping with Cancer: Cross-Sectional and Prospective Relations between Parenting Behaviors and Children’s Coping
Objective. Children diagnosed with cancer face numerous sources of stress and are at risk for emotional problems such as anxiety and depression. Parenting behavior and children’s coping are two important factors that may impact children’s adjustment to cancer. The purpose of the current study is to examine cross-sectional and prospective relations between mothers’ parenting behaviors and children’s coping in a sample of childhood cancer patients. Methods. Children ages 5-17 who had recently been diagnosed with new or relapsed cancer (n=108) and their parents were recruited from two hospitals in the Southern and Midwestern United States. Child and parent reports of parenting behaviors and child’s coping were obtained at two time points: near diagnosis (T1) and 12 months after diagnosis (T2). Results. Significant cross-sectional and longitudinal associations of parental warmth and parental psychological control with children’s coping were found near the time of child’s cancer diagnosis and one year later. These findings have the potential to guide future intervention studies to enhance adjustment outcomes for children with cancer by using parenting as an avenue to improve children’s coping.