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Childhood cancer is a significant source of stress for children and families, and children’s coping with cancer-related stress is a key predictor of emotional adjustment. To extend understanding of the determinants of children’s coping with cancer-related stress, this study examined whether mothers’ and fathers’ functioning after their child’s diagnosis—including coping and depressive symptoms—is predictive of children’s coping over time. Participants included 166 children (M age = 13.47, SD = 2.47, 51.2% female), 161 mothers, and 83 fathers. Approximately 2 months post-diagnosis (T1), parents reported on their coping and depressive symptoms. At T1 and approximately 12 months later (T2), children reported on their coping. Results indicated that mothers’ coping and depressive symptoms were correlated with children’s coping at T1; fathers’ coping and depressive symptoms were generally not associated with children’s coping at T1. Hierarchical regression analyses revealed that fathers’ secondary control coping (i.e., coping aimed at adapting to cancer-related stress) predicted higher levels of secondary control coping in children over time. Mothers’ depressive symptoms predicted lower levels of secondary control coping over time in girls, and fathers’ depressive symptoms predicted lower levels of secondary control coping over time across sex. Parents’ functioning after their child’s cancer diagnosis may shape how children cope with cancer-related stress. Parents’ coping and depressive symptoms may be important targets for interventions aiming to promote positive adjustment in children with cancer.
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- Maternal and Paternal Influences on Children’s Coping with Cancer-Related Stress
Jennifer D. Monti
Kelly H. Watson
Ellen K. Williams
Cynthia A. Gerhardt
Bruce E. Compas
- Springer US