Enacting Privacy Rules and Protecting Disclosure Recipients: Parents' Communication with Children Following the Death of a Family Member

Paige W. Toller, M. Chad McBride

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

12 Scopus citations


Given the probability that the death of a family member will occur before a child has reached adulthood, the purpose of this project was to understand what motivates parents to either talk or not talk about a loved one's death with their children. Using Communication Privacy Management to inductively analyze interviews, we found parents were motivated to talk to their children about death because they wanted their children to be informed. This is reflected in the first primary theme, Recalibrating Family of Origin Privacy Orientation Rules: Motivations for Revealing. Two secondary themes further explained parents' motivations to reveal: death as a part of life and modeling grief. Even though parents wanted to inform their children, they also wanted to protect their children and this protection is demonstrated in the second primary theme, Protecting Children: Motivations for Balancing Revealing/Concealing as well as the secondary themes of selective honesty as a rule regulator and religion as a reference point.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)32-45
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Family Communication
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2013


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Communication
  • Social Psychology

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