It remains a challenge for intensive care nurses to humanize highly technological health care environments while simultaneously maintaining the benefits this technology can offer. Helping nurses to understand the parent perceptions of pediatric intensive care hospitalization may assist nurses with addressing the need to humanize the experience. This qualitative study describes parents' perceptions of nurses' caregiving behaviors in a Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) in the Midwestern United States. Mothers (n = 10) and fathers (n = 9) of 10 children were asked questions using a semi structured interview. Content analysis was used to analyze parents' verbal descriptions of nurses taking care of their child in a large midwestern metropolitan area PICU. Parents reported nurses engaged in nurturing and vigilant behavior, namely showing affection, caring, watching, and protecting. Parents' reports suggest that the best nursing behaviors are those that facilitate and complement critical aspects of the parental role, thus reinforcing family integrity during a time of turmoil and uncertainty. Incorporating this knowledge into practice contributes to nurses' understanding of PICU hospitalization as a family event, and also helps to inform interventions to improve family-centered care in the PICU.
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