American University
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Coping in Middle Childhood with Parental Illness: A Closer Look at African-American Families

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posted on 2023-09-07, 05:04 authored by Nikia Scott

It is understood that mental and physical illness can create enormous internal and external stresses for afflicted individuals as well their significant others. When we examine the effects such illnesses have on parents and their children, we find that illnesses that disrupt a parent's ability to model appropriate social behavior and emotion regulation and those that negatively impact the attachment process and emotional communication often are particularly harmful to children (Radke-Yarrow, Cummings, Kuczynski & Chapman, 1985). This study's aim was to explore the psychosocial outcomes and coping styles used by children in these unique circumstances and determine if they differed from that found in children who were not living with an ill parent. Participants included a total of 61 African-American parent-child dyads (36 sick parents, 25 well parents). Parent participants were asked to complete a Demographics Questionnaire and the SDQ. Child participants (Mage = 11.92) were asked to complete the following self-report measures: CES-DC, SCARED, YCPSS, and CCSC-R1. Results indicated that females experienced significantly more separation anxiety than boys, irrespective of their parent's health status. Furthermore, of those children experiencing high levels of caregiver stress, females exhibited greater degrees of both separation and social anxiety than boys. It was also found that, of children living with a sick parent, boys utilized distraction coping to a significantly greater degree than girls. The study's further exploratory analyses examined demographic predictors of caregiving stress and revealed interesting relationships between coping style selection and psychosocial outcomes in an African-American sample.



American University


Degree awarded: M.A. Psychology. American University


Degree grantor

American University. Department of Psychology

Degree level

  • Masters

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