Parental involvement in their child's care in hospital has undergone great change over the last century. Studies have shown how 'maternal deprivation' and 'separation anxiety' expressed by children are detrimental to a child's recovery in hospital. Striving efforts have been made to develop family-centred care, promote normality of the family unit and continue with the normal routine of the child's life within the limitations of a hospital environment and the child's illness. Expectations of the parental role in hospital need to be identified and expressed from both the parents and staff to establish an understanding that will ultimately be best for the child. Many studies have highlighted benefits to both parent and child from parental participation in hospital. However, disadvantages have been identified from resident parents who feel captive to their new situation and role. Efforts for family-centred care are highly advocated now. Care-by-Parent units have been set up in some areas to promote this idea and, although many advantages have been identified, they are not without their problems. The success of parental involvement is dependent on both parents' and staff's attitudes, enthusiasm and willingness to work together.