Bonding with Your Child with Acid Reflux Disease

Tracy Davenport, Ph.D. Health Guide
  • I hope to keep you up to date on the current research as it relates to reflux and caregiving. It is in that spirit that I introduce, or at least remind you of, the idea of  “boundary ambiguity.”


    Mothers and fathers of chronically-ill children are sometimes left in a confusing situation when it comes to parenting. Two researchers, Jerica M. Berge and Kristen E. Holm, provided their opinion about this dilemma last month in a journal called, Family Relations ( 


    If your child is chronically ill, you may have uncertainties about how to relate to your child. You may be unsure when and if your child will get better. There is also a chance you may not be clear about how to discipline your child when the need arises. First of all, if the bad behavior is coming from not feeling well, then punishment is really not appropriate. Secondly, if your child is already not feeling well, then punishment can seem a bit like adding insult to injury. As a result of a multitude of unknowns that can go hand in hand with illness, it may be difficult for you as parents to decide how a child with a chronic condition fits into your family. This situation is referred to as “boundary ambiguity.”

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    Ambiguity can be an ever-present feature of chronic illness in family life. Berge and Holm write about this topic to support the idea that boundary ambiguity is a risk factor for psychological distress and relationship conflict among parents with chronically-ill children. The researchers make it clear that this psychological distress does not occur because of shortcomings in the parents or the caregivers, but instead can be a result of the particular illness in combination with a family’s resources and their ability to manage the ambiguity.


    It is estimated that between 10 and 30 percent of American children have a chronic health condition or disability. Uncertainty about a child’s chronic condition is a common stressor that applies to many families. If you find yourself or your partner in conflict over boundary ambiguity, remember that no one is to blame. Hopefully, you will be able to find a progressive clinician who will realize chronic illness can place multiple demands upon a family, and who will help you to be able to reduce and manage boundary ambiguity.

Published On: May 02, 2007