The purpose of this article is to throw light on the symbolic thoughts and actions of parents of children with serious illnesses, who makes use of these thoughts and/or actions, and to analyse the origin and meaning of them.

The study is based on a theory of human, social behaviour developed by the French sociologist and anthropologist Pierre Bourdieu.

The methods used are text analysis and qualitative in-depth interviews carried out with 20 families of children with cancer.

Symbolic thoughts and actions differ from other symbolic systems because the performer, as part of coping with anxiety and insecurity, bases these thoughts/actions on background, disposition, situation, time and space. The hypothesis generated is that symbolic thoughts and actions are connected to the maternal position in the family, to the person that takes on the responsibility in relation to the home, children, and illness: a status that some fathers also hold.