Parents’ Anticipated Discussions About Death With Young Children

Chang Su-Russell, Luke T. Russell, Ashley E. Ermer, Csilla Greiner, Rebecca Gregory

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Guided by family communication patterns theory and terror management theory this mixed-methods investigation explored how parents (N = 112) of young children (ages 3–6) described the way they would discuss death when it comes up in conversations. Responses were coded inductively, resulting in four themes: explanations that death is inevitable, explanations that death is in the distance, the use of religion to frame discussions of death, and finally, discussing afterlife connections to deceased family members. Logistic regression analyses were used to evaluate whether parents’ conformity or conversation orientations were associated with the frequency with which parents discussed death with their child and the content of parent vignette responses. Quantitative analysis revealed parents’ conversation orientations were associated with the frequency with which they discussed death with their child and conformity orientations were associated with parents’ use of religion and discussing afterlife connections to deceased family members in their responses.

Original languageEnglish
JournalOmega (United States)
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2021

Keywords

  • Death
  • Family communication patterns
  • Mixed methods
  • religion
  • Terror management theory
  • Young children

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