• asthma;
  • chronic illness;
  • family;
  • parenting competence

Every parent who faces an illness in their child might doubt their competence to care. When a chronic illness is diagnosed, competence can be severely challenged because of the sustained and multiple disruptions to daily life. A conceptual framework entitled ‘Learning to be a Parent of a Child with Asthma’ was developed from the results of a descriptive phenomenological study completed in Perth, Western Australia. It describes the stages of challenges to competency that parents experience as they learn to care for their asthmatic children. The impact of this illness on parents and the extent to which they are able to help their children respond to the demands of asthma are critical components in understanding the effect of this disease on parental competency. Insight into parental competency and the relationship to chronic illness will help health professionals provide the support and information needed by parents to manage asthma in their children.