This study explores parental lived experience following admission of their child to a pediatric intensive care unit. The interview data used were collected from 10 randomly chosen families from the Family Impact of Catastrophic Childhood Illness Project recruited during the early phase of critical care hospitalization of their child. A 3-stage contextual analysis procedure integrating interactional and contextual perspectives into Colaizzi's phenomenological approach was used to reduce text data to thematic content. The analysis uncovered a multidimensional and holistic phenomenon consisting of four organizing concepts: initial boundary ambiguity, parents' coping patterns, family resources, and functioning of the family boundary. These results provide evidence of a collective family level perception of stress when experiencing the health crisis of a child and supportfurther use of family stress perception as a family level phenomenon that represents family meaning construction during critical illness of a child.