Children of the mentally ill constitute a group neglected by mental health care providers. Increased rates of psychopathology, impaired attention processes, disturbances in interpersonal relationships, and reduced overall adaptive functioning are reported as significant outcomes for offspring of parents with a mood disorder. While epidemiological studies underscoring the risks from a hereditary standpoint are many, there are few studies examining the subjective experience of living with a depressed parent. Findings from this pilot study elucidate the subjective experience of preadolescents/adolescents living with an affectively ill parent, applying a qualitative focus group design. Videotaped sessions were analysed using methods consistent with qualitative research. 'Struggle to understand the illness', 'managing the illness', 'recognizing the signs', and 'impact of parent's hospitalization' emerged as central themes, capturing the essence of participants' experiences. The first two themes were further divided into subthemes. Findings illuminate the need to broaden nursing interventions and research, to include family perspectives, particularly when parental mental illness is a factor.