Journal of Child and Family Studies

, Volume 24, Issue 5, pp 1501–1509 | Cite as

The Adolescent Response to Parental Illness: The Influence of Dispositional Gratitude

  • Maggie StoeckelEmail author
  • Carol Weissbrod
  • Anthony Ahrens
Original Paper


Existing literature suggests that the children of ill parents are susceptible to anxiety and depression. However, some may respond to threatening circumstances such as chronic illness or grief with positive emotions and finding benefits, including appreciation of life and greater emotional strength. We explored the college-age child response to parental illness by examining the relationship of dispositional gratitude, family variables, and characteristics of parental illness to college-age child depression and anxiety. College students completed self-report measures examining dispositional gratitude, family quality of life, depression, and anxiety. In comparison to the healthy parent group, the ill parent group experienced lower family quality of life. There were no significant between group differences in depression or anxiety levels. Dispositional gratitude moderated the relationship between parental health status and college-age child anxiety and depression. This suggests that dispositional gratitude may have served as a buffer against internalizing symptoms within the college-age children of ill parents.


Child response to parental illness Dispositional gratitude Family quality of life Positive psychology Protective factors 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Maggie Stoeckel
    • 1
    Email author
  • Carol Weissbrod
    • 1
  • Anthony Ahrens
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyAmerican UniversityWashingtonUSA

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