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Relationship of Parental Overprotection, Child Vulnerabililty, and Parenting Stress to Emotional, Behavioral, and Social Adjustment in Children Diagnosed with Cancer

Colletti, Christina

This study examined the relationship of parental overprotection, perceived child vulnerability, and parenting stress to parent-reported emotional, behavioral, and social functioning in children with cancer. Parenting stress was also examined as a moderator variable. Participants were 36 parents of children aged 2 to 11 years and receiving treatment for cancer at a university-affiliated medical center. Results of hierarchical regression analyses indicated that all three parenting variables significantly predicted increased child emotional and behavioral difficulties and decreased child social functioning after controlling for demographic and disease parameters. Parenting stress did not significantly moderate the relationships between overprotection and child functioning and perceived vulnerability and child functioning. These findings provide support for the transactional relationship between discrete parenting variables and child emotional, behavioral, and social functioning in the context of pediatric cancer. Structured interventions targeting overprotective parenting behaviors and high levels of perceived vulnerability and parenting stress may help improve child functioning.