Parentified Child: Growing Up Too Quickly

Parentification or parentified child, what is it? It is when there is a role reversal between a child and parents. The child takes on the role and responsibility of a parent. Some children may even have to raise their siblings in place of a parent which happens often when raised with a single parent who has to work to support the family. Kids in the following upbringing are referred to as ‘parentified child’. Asking your child to do chores like vacuuming or dishes is a reasonable request. It is when a child is asked or expected to take on the responsibilities of an adult, for example; manage the family’s finances, raising siblings, prepare meals for the entire family or in rare cases the child becomes the emotional support in the absence of a spouse. There are also parents who may not be able to raise their child

  • Drug addiction
  • Neglectful
  • May have a disability 
  • Working long hours

It is not all bad if some adults were a parentified child. They may benefit from the experience as others often see them as responsible and they are great caregivers. But we should not ignore they were a parentified child as this may lead to bigger problems. Parentified children will often need inner child work and struggle with having fun. They are easily put in caretaker roles and base their worth on what they are able to provide to others. Having structure allows them to feel safe compared to free and imaginary play. 

Do you think you were parentified as a child? Here are a few points you can ask yourself if you were. 

  • Were you given responsibilities that were not appropriate for your age?
  • Your parents were unable to take care of themselves and you felt you had to step in because it was the ‘right thing to do’
  • A heightened sense of empathy for other people
  • Feel you have trouble relaxing or let loose your honest emotions in front of other people
  • Feel you have to be self-reliant and avoid trusting others for help
  • Being a referee between your parents or caregiver
  • Don’t recall being a ‘kid or a teenager’
  • Are you in a caregiver role?

Your parents' acknowledgements are based on what you have done and not on who you are. If your parents define you based on your accomplishments, you will find your inner critics always evaluating your success. You will find it hard to allow yourselves to just ‘be’ and instead, are always looking for ways to be better. This relentless need to keep achieving and upgrading never slows down. You base your life on society's standard rather than doing what makes you truly happy. Don’t let this pattern leave you feeling empty inside and questioning your own self-worth. Be kind to yourself and do not feel you are at fault for anything. To begin to heal, you can start by being compassionate to your inner-self and quiet the internalized negative and doubtful voice when you choose yourself. You deserved to be unconditionally loved for who you are and not for what you can do. 

Source link: 14 Signs You Were Parentified Child  

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