ArticlePDF Available

Defining and Understanding Parentification: Implications for All Counselors

Authors:

Abstract

This article advances a balanced discussion of the extent to which varied outcomes are evidenced in adulthood after one has been parentified in childhood. Recommendations are provided that may help counselors avoid the potential overpathologizing of clients with a history of parentification. Suggestions for clinical practice are put forth for all counselors. Parentification is a ubiquitous phenomenon that most school, community, and family counselors as well as other human helpers face (Byng-Hall, 2002). That is, most counselors are likely to encounter both children and adults who have a history of parentification—a potential form of neglect (Boszormenyi-Nagy & Spark, 1973; Chase, 1999). What is parentification, and given its relationship with negative outcomes and behaviors, what can counselors do to avoid overpathologizing the client's signs, symptoms, and behaviors associated with parentification? This paper offers a review of what clinical practitioners and researchers have described in the literature. Subsequent to a brief review of the literature, suggestions regarding practice efforts directed toward clients who have experienced parentification are put forward.
Defining and Understanding Parentification:
Implications for All Counselors
Lisa M. Hooper
The University of Alabama
ABSTRACT
This article advances a balanced
discussion of the extent to which varied
outcomes are evidenced in adulthood
after one has been parentified in
childhood. Recommendations are
provided that may help counselors avoid
the potential overpathologizing of clients
with a history of parentification.
Suggestions for clinical practice are put
forth for all counselors.
Parentification is a ubiquitous
phenomenon that most school,
community, and family counselors as
well as other human helpers face (Byng-
Hall, 2002). That is, most counselors are
likely to encounter both children and
adults who have a history of
parentification—a potential form of
neglect (Boszormenyi-Nagy & Spark,
1973; Chase, 1999). What is
parentification, and given its relationship
with negative outcomes and behaviors,
what can counselors do to avoid
overpathologizing the client’s signs,
symptoms, and behaviors associated
with parentification? This paper offers a
review of what clinical practitioners and
researchers have described in the
literature. Subsequent to a brief review
of the literature, suggestions regarding
practice efforts directed toward clients
who have experienced parentification are
put forward.
Defining Parentification
Parentification is the distortion or lack
of boundaries between and among
family subsystems, such that children
take on roles and responsibilities usually
reserved for adults (Boszormenyi-Nagy
& Spark, 1973). That is, either explicitly
or implicitly, parents create an
environment that fosters caretaking
behaviors in their children that help
maintain homeostasis (i.e., balance) for
the family in general and the parent in
particular. Above and beyond
maintaining homeostasis for the family,
the responsibilities that are carried out
by the parentified child are traditionally
behaviors that provide the parent with
the specific emotional and instrumental
support that the parent likely did not
receive while he or she was growing up
(Boszormenyi-Nagy & Spark,1973;
Minuchin, Montalvo, Guerney, Rosman,
& Schumer, 1967). Thus, the child must
be emotionally available for the parent,
even though the parent is often
emotionally unavailable for the child,
which may engender a chronic state of
anxiety and distress in some emotionally
parentified children (Bowen, 1978;
Briere, 1992; Cicchetti, 2004). The
clinical literature has also reported that
the breakdown in the generational
hierarchy may rob the child of activities
that are developmentally appropriate; the
child instead participates in either
instrumental or emotional caregiving
behaviors directed toward parents,
siblings, or both that may go unrewarded
and unrecognized (Boszormenyi-Nagy
Defining and Understanding Parentification
& Spark,1973; Jurkovic, 1997; Kerig,
2005; Minuchin et al.,1967). Some
research and practitioners contend that to
fully understand the aftereffects of
parentification, the type of
parentification (i.e., emotional and
instrumental) experienced in the family
must be assessed (Jurkovic, 1997).
Emotional parentification is the
participation in the “socioemotional
needs of family members and the family
as a whole” (Jurkovic, Morrell, &
Thirkield, 1999, p. 94). Behaviors
described by Jurkovic and colleagues
include, “serving as a confidant,
companion, or mate-like figure,
mediating family conflict, and providing
nurturance and support” (p. 94).
Instrumental parentification is the
participation in the “physical
maintenance and sustenance of the
family” (Jurkovic et al., 1999, p. 94).
Behaviors described by Jurkovic and
colleagues include, grocery shopping,
cooking, housecleaning, and
performance of daily duties that involve
caring for parents and siblings” (p. 94).
Of significance to counselors and other
mental health practitioners, not all
children who are parentified will
experience negative aftereffects (Byng-
Hall, 2002; DiCaccavo, 2006; Earley &
Cushway, 2002; Tompkins, 2007). In
fact, approximately only one-fourth of
all children who experience neglect will
go on to experience negative aftereffects
(Alexander, 1992; Cicchetti & Toth,
1995; Golden, 1999; Toth & Cicchetti,
1996; West & Keller, 1991). The next
section takes a less myopic view of the
potential aftereffects of parentification
often reported in the literature. The
following section includes a brief review
of the research base of both negative and
positive outcomes associated with
parentification.
Understanding Parentification: The
Negative and Positive Effects of
Parentification
Established Negative Effects. Studies in
the last 30 years have established a
relationship between parentification and
later maladjustment. Researchers have
found linkages from early childhood
stress/trauma to child and parent factors
such as divorce (Wallerstein, 1985),
parental alcohol and drug use (Bekir,
McLellan, Childress, & Gariti, 1993),
disruption in attachment (Zeanah &
Zeanah, 1989), family discord, low
socioeconomic status (Boszormenyi-
Nagy & Spark, 1973; Minuchin et al.,
1967), depression, and attachment and
relational difficulties (Jones & Wells,
1996).
The effects of childhood parentification
can be long-lasting, multigenerational,
and deleterious, presenting over the
course of a lifetime (Chase, 1999;
Karpel, 1976; West & Keller, 1991). For
young adults, parentification can impede
“normal” development related to
relationship building, personality
formation, and other developmentally
critical processes (Burt, 1992; Goglia,
Jurkovic, Burt, & Burge-Callaway,
1992; Sessions & Jurkovic, 1986;
Wolkin, 1984). Valleau, Bergner, and
Horton (1995) found that children who
are parentified have significantly more
“caretaker characteristics” in adulthood
than do those children who are not
parentified. Similarly, Jones and Wells
(1996) found an association between
personality characteristics such as
“people pleasing” and adults who had
been parentified. Further, their study,
comprising 208 undergraduate students
The Alabama Counseling Association Journal, Volume 34, Number1, Spring 2008
35 Defining and Understanding Parentification
Defining and Understanding Parentification
from a large Midwestern university,
found that participants who were
destructively parentified as children
often relate to others in problematic,
overfunctioning, caretaking ways.
Domains like separating from the family
of origin, participating in age-
appropriate behaviors (Olson & Gariti,
1993), engaging in academic pursuits,
and developing self-esteem can also be
affected (Bekir et al., 1993; Chase,
Demming, & Wells, 1998). Other
aftereffects may include mental illness in
general, and depression, anxiety,
substance abuse, and dependence
disorders in particular. For example,
Chase et al. (1998) found relationships
between high levels of parentification
and academic achievement and parental
use of alcohol. These findings are
consistent with multiple studies that
have established a relationship between
parentification and alcohol use by at
least one parent or guardian (Bekir et
al.,1993; Goglia et al., 1992). Bekir et al.
concluded that adults who abuse alcohol
or drugs are often unable to perform
their parental duties and that, therefore,
the parentified child is often left to care
for self, siblings, and parents. Bekir et al.
also found that the parentified child is
often inclined to repeat the same
behaviors as an adult with his or her own
children. Borderline personality and
dissociative disorders, although rare, can
be evidenced in extreme cases of this
phenomenon (Cicchetti, 2004; Liotti,
1992; Wells & Jones, 2000; Widom,
1999).
As previously mentioned, neglect
such as parentification can be and often
is traumatic for a child as well as for the
adult he or she becomes (Aldridge,
2006; Alexander, 1992; Chase, 1999;
Jurkovic, 1998). Trauma is often
experienced when a situation or
environment is perceived as being
overwhelming, threatening, and too
much for the individual (Briere, 1992;
Lazarus & Folkman, 1984), or when a
chronically stressful situation becomes
unrelenting and the individual is unable
to adapt and cope with the experience in
a healthy functional way (Brewin,
Andrews, & Gotlib, 1993; Werner,
1990).
Parentification can therefore be
characterized as a traumatic event and an
adverse process, in accord with the
definitions and criteria put forward in the
family and trauma literature, that have
long-lasting effects experienced in
adulthood (Belsky, 1990; Briere, 1992;
Chase, 1999; Cicchetti, 2004). Further,
extant literature on parentification has
shown that the process is in fact adverse
for most children and that it can later be
linked to poor adult functioning. The
process of childhood parentification can,
in the adults those children become,
produce a fear of having children and/or
lead to the transmission of
parentification across many generations
(Boszormenyi-Nagy & Spark, 1973;
Bowen, 1978; Chase et al., 1998).
Potential Positive Effects
Because of the trauma often related to
the parentification process (e.g.,
significant distress, adversity,
dissociation, and even suicide [Jurkovic,
1997; Markowitz, 1994), research has
tended to focus on psychopathology and
other negative outcomes (Barnett &
Parker, 1998; Walker & Lee, 1998).
There is a dearth of research discussing
positive outcomes after childhood
parentification. One of the few studies to
do so, conducted by Jurkovic and Casey
The Alabama Counseling Association Journal, Volume 34, Number 1, Spring 2008
Defining and Understanding Parentification 36
Defining and Understanding Parentification
(2000), reported on the linkage between
emotional parentification and
interpersonal competence among Latino
adolescents. That study’s findings
suggested that higher levels of emotional
parentification are predictive of higher
levels of interpersonal competence. On
the other hand, adolescents who
experience low levels of emotional
parentification—in a family system in
which they perceive the parentification
process (i.e., the assignment of and the
responsibility to carry out parent like
duties) to be unfair—also experience
low levels of competence. Jurkovic and
Casey concluded that parentification has
the potential to promote competence.
Additionally, they suggested that
potentially critical to positive outcomes
after parentification is the degree to
which the child perceived the process to
be fair. In the context of a family system
where children have reported that the
parentification process was “fair” also
reported that their parent-like behaviors
and responsibilities did not go unnoticed
and they carried out those
responsibilities for brief periods of time.
Of significance, a family system absent
of parentification may prevent some
children of the skills and abilities they
could use across domains and
throughout their lives—although more
research is needed to clarify and support
this assertion. Towards this end, in
Thirkield’s (2002) study examining the
relationship between instrumental
parentification in childhood and
interpersonal competence in adulthood, a
significant positive linear relationship
was obtained. Thirkield also found a
positive relationship between age,
positive outcomes (operationalized as
interpersonal competence), and
instrumental parentification. Findings
from these studies (Jurkovic &
Casey,2000; Thirkield,2002) provide
preliminary support showing that (a)
benefits may be engendered by the
parentification process, and (b) benefits
may last over time.
In a more recent study conducted by
Walsh, Zvulun, Bar-On, & Tsur (2006)
they examined the extent to which the
parentification process may be
associated with positive factors among
adolescent immigrants. In their study
they found parentification was related to
positive outcomes such as high levels of
individuation and differentiation from
the family system. They also found
when adolescent immigrants and non-
immigrants perceived their roles and
responsibilities as fair and age
appropriate the outcome was positive:
sense of mastery and competence. Thus
they concluded the provision of parent-
like roles and responsibilities among the
study sample engendered individual
autonomy, self-mastery, and family
cohesion. McMahon and Luthar (2007)
also found a relationship between
psychosocial adjustment and
parentification. Of significance, and in
support of divergent findings related to
childhood parentification and adult
outcomes, McMahon and Luthar
contend this process and its associated
outcomes are multidetermined and
multifactorial, even in the context of
severe, long-standing levels of
parentification. For example, among
their study sample of children living in
poverty, the researchers failed to find a
significant, stable relationship between
parentification and poor outcomes.
Discussion
Given the overwhelming findings
regarding negative outcomes, counselors
The Alabama Counseling Association Journal, Volume 34, Number1, Spring 2008
37 Defining and Understanding Parentification
Defining and Understanding Parentification
may be inclined to delimit their
therapeutic encounters to investigations
that look for the negative outcomes often
seen among this population (DiCaccavo,
2006; Earley & Cushway, 2002; Kerig,
2005). This potential overpathologizing
among counselors (Barnett & Parker,
1998; Hooper, 2007) could result in
missed opportunities to uncover
exceptions, that is, when positive skills
and coping strategies are experienced.
Consistent with a wellness, strength-
based counseling framework, counselors
should assess for clients’ strengths—if
any—derived from the parentification
process and infuse them into the
counseling and treatment planning
process. Therefore, the advantage of the
application of the counseling wellness
framework—as compared to a deficit or
medical model framework—is that it
allows for the explication of differential
outcomes—both negative and positive—
associated with parentification
(DiCaccavo,2006; Hooper,2007;
Jurkovic, 1997; Mayseless , et al.,
2004).
In the case of potential neglect, such as
parentification, many factors, as
previously described, may contribute to
the same event or process leading to
divergent outcomes. For example,
parentification can be perceived as
traumatic, as stressful but not traumatic,
or as a regular, even an anticipated
cultural event in the course of daily
living (Walsh, et al., 2006). To this end,
a large body of trauma literature has
suggested that the number of stressors
has more to do with the outcome or
aftereffects than does a particular
stressor itself (Waller, 2001). Thus, in
the case of parentification, the number of
stressors may influence the outcome
exhibited in both childhood and
adulthood.
Also, as asserted in the parentification
literature (Chase, 1999; Jurkovic, 1997,
1998; Minuchin et al., 1967), how long
the stressor was related to providing
caregiving to the parent and sibling is
also a contributing factor for those
children who carry out the parentified
role in their family of origin. Those who
perform this role for short periods of
time may perceive the role as less
overwhelming, stressful, or traumatic
than will others (Byng-Hall, 2002;
Saakvitne & Tennen, 1998; Tedeschi &
Calhoun, 1995). Finally, from a
developmental perspective, older
children are likely to feel more equipped
to take on the caregiving role than
younger children, thereby influencing
growth or distress outcomes associated
to the parentification process.
All counselors should consider the
following points when working with
clients who have a history of
parentification.
1. First, consider that not all clients who
are parentified experience negative
sequlae that are often reported in the
clinical and research literature (Barnett
& Parker, 1998; Byng-Hall, 2002;
Jurkovic, 1997; Jurkovic & Casey, 2000;
McMahon & Luthar, 2007; Thirkield,
2002; Tompkins, 2007).
2.Consider how long the parentification
process has been going on. The resultant
aftereffects may be different for clients
for whom the process is brief and
temporary as compared to long and
chronic (DiCaccavo, 2006; Tompkins,
2007). Shorter brief episodes of
parentification may foster competency
and self-efficacy in the client rather than
The Alabama Counseling Association Journal, Volume 34, Number 1, Spring 2008
Defining and Understanding Parentification 38
Defining and Understanding Parentification
pathological, poor outcomes (McMahon
& Luthar, 2007).
3.Consider the age of the client. The
aftereffects are likely to be different for
a younger child who is parentified as
compared to an older adolescent
(Kaplow & Widon, 2007; Walsh et al.,
2006).
4.Determine if the parentification
process is delimited to instrumental,
emotional, or both. The research
suggests emotional parentification may
be more deleterious than instrumental
parentification (Hooper, 2007;
McMahon & Luthar, 2007; Tompkins,
2007).
5.Consider the cultural and familial
context in which the client is embedded.
For example, how do the family and
people who adopt the client’s culture
perceive the parentification process
(Jurkovic, et al., 2001; Walsh, et al.,
2006)? Is the parentification process
culturally expected and valued?
6.Consider using a questionnaire to
capture the level, type, and perceived
fairness of parentification (e.g., Jurkovic
& Thirkield, 1998, for child and adult
instruments).
7.Examine to what extent the client feels
the parentification process is “fair.”
Again, research suggests if the process is
perceived to be “fair” then it is often
associated with fewer negative outcomes
(Jurkovic, et al., 1999).
8.There may be strengths engendered by
the parentification process (Hooper,
2007; Tompkins, 2007). Thus it may be
helpful to explore both positive and
negative aspects of the parentification
process.
9.Involve the family if possible.
Education may be all the family needs to
help the client and family restore or
reestablish the appropriate boundaries
where the child (if working with a child
or adolescent) has a safe, appropriate
context to grow, learn, differentiate, and
thrive (Walsh et al., 2006).
10.Consider a referral. Depending on the
context in which a counselor works, and
the extent and level of adversity
associated with the parentification
process, specific trauma-based
counseling (Calhoun & Tedeschi, 1999)
may be indicated.
Summary
Counselors and researchers have long
demonstrated a clear awareness of the
deleterious effects of parentification in
general (Chase, 1999; Jurkovic, 1997;
Mayseless, Bartholomew, Henderson, &
Trinke, 2004). On the other hand, and at
the same time, Barnett and Parker
(1998) concurred with Boszormenyi-
Nagy and Spark (1973) that it may in
fact be maladaptive to avoid or miss out
on any parental roles in the family of
origin—in that many lessons for
adulthood and parenthood are derived
from family-related roles and
responsibilities (i.e., parentification)
during childhood. Recently, Barnett and
Parker (1998) have questioned whether
parentification leads to early competence
or childhood deprivation. Similarly, one
of the “founding fathers” (Boszormenyi-
Nagy) of the construct of parentification
reminded counselors, theorists,
researchers, and the like that “the term
describes a ubiquitous and important
aspect of most human relationships. It is
suggested that parentification should not
be unconditionally ascribed to the realm
of ‘pathology’ or relational dysfunction.
The Alabama Counseling Association Journal, Volume 34, Number1, Spring 2008
39 Defining and Understanding Parentification
Defining and Understanding Parentification
It [parentification] is a component of the
regressive core of even balanced,
sufficiently reciprocal relationships”
(Boszormenyi-Nagy & Spark, 1973, p.
151)
AUTHOR NOTE
Correspondence regarding the
manuscript should be directed to: Lisa
M. Hooper, Ph.D., Department of
Educational Studies in Psychology,
Research Methodology, and Counseling,
The University of Alabama, Box
870231, Tuscaloosa, Alabama 35487-
0231. Email: lhooper@bamaed.ua.edu
REFERENCES
Aldridge, J. (2006). The experiences of
children living with and caring for
parents with mental illness. Child Abuse
Review, 15, 79-88.
Alexander, P. C. (1992). Application of
attachment theory to the study of sexual
abuse. Journal of Consulting & Clinical
Psychology, 60, 185-195.
Barnett, B., & Parker, G. (1998). The
parentified child: Early competence or
childhood deprivation. Child Psychology
& Psychiatry Review, 3(4), 146-154.
Bekir, P., McLellan, T., Childress, A. R.,
& Gariti, P. (1993). Role reversals in
families of substance abusers: A
transgenerational phenomenon. The
International Journal of the Addictions,
28(6), 613-630.
Belsky, J. (1990). Parental and
nonparental child care and children’s
socioemotional development: A decade
in review. Journal of Marriage, 52, 885-
903.
Boszormenyi-Nagy, I., & Spark, G.
(1973). Invisible loyalties: Reciprocity in
intergenerational family therapy.
Hagerstown, MD: Harper & Row.
Bowen, M. (1978). Family therapy in
clinical practice. New York: Jason
Aronson.
Brewin, C., Andrews, B., & Gotlib, I.
(1993). Psychopathology and early
experience: A reappraisal of
retrospective reports. Psychological
Bulletin, 13(1), 82-98.
Briere, J. (1992). Child abuse trauma:
Theory and treating of the lasting
effects. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.
Burt, A. (1992). Generation boundary
distortion: Implications for object
relations development. Unpublished
doctoral dissertation, Georgia State
University, Atlanta, GA.
Byng-Hall, J. (2002). Relieving
parentified children’s burden in families
with insecure attachment patterns.
Family Process, 41, 375-388.
Calhoun, L. G. & Tedeschi, R. G.
(1999). Facilitating posttraumatic
growth: A clinician’s guide. Mahwah,
NJ: Lawerence Erlbaum.
Carver, C. (1998). Resilience and
thriving: Issues, models, and linkages.
Journal of Social Issues, 54(2), 245-267.
The Alabama Counseling Association Journal, Volume 34, Number 1, Spring 2008
Defining and Understanding Parentification 40
Defining and Understanding Parentification
Chase, N. (1999). An overview of
theory, research, and societal issues. In
N. Chase (Ed.), Burdened children (pp.
3-33). New York: The Guilford Press.
Chase, N., Demming, M., & Wells, M.
(1998). Parentification, parental
alcoholism, and academic status among
young adults. The American Journal of
Family Therapy, 25, 105-114.
Cicchetti, D. (2004). An odyssey of
discovery: Lessons learned through three
decades of research on child
maltreatment. American Psychologist,
59, 4-14.
Cicchetti, D., & Toth, S. (1995). A
developmental psychopathology
perspective on child abuse and neglect.
Journal of American Academy of Child
Adolescent Psychiatry, 34, 541-565.
DiCaccavo, A. (2006). Working with
parentification: Implications for clients
and counselling psychologists.
Psychology and Psychotherapy: Theory,
Research and Practice, 79, 469-478.
Earley, L., & Cushway, D. J. (2002).
The parentified child. Clinical Child
Psychology and Psychiatry, 7, 163-178.
Goglia, L., Jurkovic, G., Burt, A., &
Burge-Callaway, C. (1992).
Generational boundary distortions by
adult children of alcoholics: Child-as-
parent and child-as-mate. The American
Journal of Family Therapy, 20, 291-299.
Golden, O. (1999). The federal response
to child abuse and neglect. American
Psychologist, 55, 1050-1053.
Hooper, L. M. (2007). Expanding the
discussion regarding parentification and
its varied outcomes: Implications for
mental health research and practice.
Journal of Mental Health Counseling,
29(2), 322-337.
Jones, R., & Wells, M. (1996). An
empirical study of parentification and
personality. The American Journal of
Family Therapy, 24, 145-152.
Jurkovic, G. J. (1997). The plight of the
parentified child. New York: Brunner
Mazel Inc.
Jurkovic, G. J. (1998). Destructive
parentification in families: Causes and
consequences. In L. L’Abate (Ed.),
Family psychopathology (pp.
237-255). New York: The Guilford
Press.
Jurkovic, G. J., & Casey, S. (2000,
March). Parentification in immigrant
Latino adolescents. Presentation in G. P.
Kuperminc (Chair), Proyecto Juventud:
A Multidisciplinary Study of Immigrant
Latino Adolescents, symposium
conducted at the meeting of the Society
for Applied Anthropology, San
Francisco, CA.
Jurkovic, G. J., & Thirkield, A. (1998).
Parentification questionnaire.
(Available from G. J. Jurkovic,
Department of Psychology, Georgia
State University, University Plaza,
Atlanta, GA 30303)
Jurkovic, G. J., Morrell, R., & Thirkield,
(1999). Assessing childhood
parentification: Guidelines for
researchers and clinicians. In N. Chase
(Ed.), Burdened children (pp. 92-113).
New York: The Guilford Press.
The Alabama Counseling Association Journal, Volume 34, Number1, Spring 2008
41 Defining and Understanding Parentification
Defining and Understanding Parentification
Kaplow, J. B. & Widom, C. S. (2007).
Age of onset of child maltreatment
predicts long-term mental health
outcomes. Journal of Abnormal
Psychology, 116(1), 176-187.
Karpel, M. (1976). Intrapsychic and
interpersonal processes in the
parentification of children.
Dissertation Abstracts International, 38,
365. (UMI No. 77-15090)
Kerig, P. (2005). Revisiting the construct
of boundary dissolution: A
multidimensional perspective. Journal of
Emotional Abuse, 5. 5-42.
Lazarus, R. S., & Folkman, S. (1984).
Stress, appraisal, and coping. New
York: Springer Publishing.
Liotti,G.(1992). Diorganized/disoriented
attachment in the etiology of the
dissociative disorders. Dissociation, 4,
196-204.
Markowitz, F. (1994). Family dynamics
and teenage immigrant: Creating the self
through the parents’ image.
Adolescence,29, 151-161.
Mayseless, O., Bartholomew, K.,
Henderson, A., & Trinke, S. (2004). I
was more her mom than she was mine:
Role reversal in a community sample.
Family Relations, 53, 78-86.
McMahon, T. J., & Luthar, S. S. (2007).
Defining characteristics and potential
consequences of caretaking burden
among children living in poverty.
American Journal of Orthopsychiatry,
77(2), 267-281.
Minuchin, S., Montalvo, B., Guerney,
B., Rosman, B., & Schumer, F. (1967).
Families of the slums. New York: Basic
Books.
Olson, M., & Gariti, P. (1993). Symbolic
loss in horizontal relating: Defining the
role of parentification in
addictive/destructive relationships.
Contemporary Family Therapy, 15(3),
197-208.
Saakvitne, K. W., & Tennen, H. (1998).
Exploring thriving in the context of
clinical trauma theory: Constructivist
self-development theory. Journal of
Social Issues, 54, 279-300.
Sessions, M. W., & Jurkovic, G. J.
(1986). The parentification
questionnaire. (Available from Gregory
J. Jurkovic, Department of Psychology,
Georgia State University, University
Plaza, Atlanta, GA 30303)
Tedeschi, R. G., & Calhoun, L. G.
(1995). Trauma and transformation.
Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
Thirkield, A. (2002). The role of fairness
in emotional and social outcomes of
childhood filial responsibility.
Unpublished doctoral dissertation,
Georgia State University, Atlanta, GA.
(UMI No. 3036391)
Tompkins, T. L. (2007). Parentification
and maternal HIV infection: Beneficial
role or pathological burden. Journal of
Child and Family Studies, 16, 113-123.
The Alabama Counseling Association Journal, Volume 34, Number 1, Spring 2008
Defining and Understanding Parentification 42
Defining and Understanding Parentification
Toth, S. L., & Cicchetti, D. (1996).
Patterns of relatedness, depressive
symptomatology, and perceived
competence in maltreated children.
Journal of Consulting and Clinical
Psychology, 64(1), 32-41.
Valleau, P. M., Bergner, R. M., &
Horton, C. B. (1995). Parentification and
caretaker syndrome: An empirical
investigation. Family Therapy, 22, 157-
164.
Walker, J. P., & Lee, R. E. (1998).
Uncovering strengths of children of
alcoholic parents. Journal of
Contemporary Family Therapy, 20(4)
521-533.
Waller, M. A. (2001). Resilience in
ecosystemic context: Evolution of the
concept. American Journal of
Orthopsychiatry, 71(3), 290-297.
Wallerstein, S. S. (1985, March-April).
The overburdened child: Some long-
term consequences of divorce. Social
Work, 116-123.
Walsh, S., Shulman, S., Bar-on, Z., &
Tsur, A. (2006). The role of
parentification and family climate in
adaptation among immigrants in Israel.
Journal of Research on Adolescence, 16,
321-350.
Werner, E. E. (1990). Protective factors
and individual resilience. In S. Meisels
& J. Shonkoff (Eds.), Handbook of early
childhood intervention. New York:
Cambridge University Press.
Wells, M., & Jones, R. (2000). Childhood
parentification and shame-proneness: A
preliminary study. American Journal of
FamilyTherapy,28(1),19-28.
West, M. L., & Keller, A. E. (1991).
Parentification of the child: A case study
of Bowlby’s compulsive care-giving
attachment pattern. American Journal of
Psychotherapy, 45, 425-431.
Widom, C. S. (1999). Posttraumatic
stress disorder in abused and neglected
children grown up. American Journal of
Psychiatry, 156(8), 1223-1229.
Wolkin, J. (1984). Childhood
parentification: An exploration of long-
term effects. Unpublished doctoral
dissertation, Georgia State University,
Atlanta, GA. (UMI No. 912254)
Zeanah, C. H., & Zeanah, P. D. (1989).
Intergenerational transmission of
maltreatment: Insights from
attachment theory and research.
Psychiatry, 52, 177-196.
The Alabama Counseling Association Journal, Volume 34, Number1, Spring 2008
43 Defining and Understanding Parentification
... The problem of children taking up the responsibilities of care and support for their parents or other family members, and taking responsibility for the functioning of the family, is recognised in social sciences in two parallel developing trends or research areas. The first onetreated in broader senseincludes research on the phenomenon of parentification (Böszörményi-Nagy & Spark, 1984;Hooper, 2008aHooper, , 2008bJurkovic et al., 1999;Minuchin, Montalvo, Guerney, Rosman, & Schumer, 1968), while the second deals with the recognition of the situation of 'young carers'that is, children, adolescents and young adults undertaking various types of caring activities within the family (Joseph, Sempik, Leu, & Becker, 2020). ...
... Basing on the tasks, roles and responsibilities of the child, Minuchin et al. (1968) delineated two types of parentification: instrumental and emotional parentification. The first type involves taking care of the material well-being of the family, satisfying its physical needs, which is associated with using the child for various household chores (cooking, cleaning, shopping, washing and caring for a sick family member), or taking care of siblings and other family members (Di Caccavo, 2006;Hooper, 2008aHooper, , 2008b. Emotional parentification, on the other hand, involves concern for satisfying the emotional and mental needs of parents and/or siblings (Di Caccavo, 2006;Jurkovic et al., 1999). ...
... Emotional parentification, on the other hand, involves concern for satisfying the emotional and mental needs of parents and/or siblings (Di Caccavo, 2006;Jurkovic et al., 1999). A child experiencing this type of parentification may function as a parents' confidant, sole support, companion, mediator in family conflicts, mate-like figure and nurturance providing educator (Hooper, 2008a(Hooper, , 2008bJurkovic et al., 1999). ...
Article
Young carers and parentification – between support and responsibility. Involving the child in the functioning of the family This article concerns the issue of supportive and caring tasks taken up by children functioning within the family. The aim of presented analyses is to learn the respondents' opinion about child involvement in the functioning of the family in forms such as: care for siblings, emotional and instrumental support provided to parents, and taking over responsibility for the family. The study was conducted in Poland in 2019 on the group of 2,119 participants, who responded to the proprietary questionnaire. Quota sampling has been used. The analysis of the collected data shows that the respondents approve of the selected factors of the phenomena of parentification and young carers. The respondents accept certain situations in which children are involved into care, support or even taking responsibility for the whole family, also in terms of economy and livelihood.
... One of the strategies for dealing with separation from the parent and the related gap in the family system is parentification. Parentification is defined as a pattern of family interactions in which a child or an adolescent assumes roles and takes on the responsibility assigned to adults in their culture, while the position of the parent in such a family is weakened [67,68]. In children and adolescents, performing age-inadequate tasks may cause both internalizing behaviors, such as depression and psychosomatic symptoms, and externalizing behaviors, such as behavioral and personality disorders [69][70][71]. ...
... The first of them, supported by a smaller number of studies [65,92], shows that siblings become closer when faced with a difficult situation. Numerous scientific reports support the second perspective, showing that children do not support each other, become distant and more hostile to each other, and the conflict between them increases [17,68,[93][94][95]. Separation of siblings used as a solution in the situation of parents' divorce seems to be another risk factor for the growing distance between the children who will not have contact on a daily basis, and the regularity of their contact may-to a large extent and especially so in the case of younger children-depend on adults. ...
Article
Full-text available
Separation of siblings is one of the most difficult diagnostic problems faced by psychologists. Such situations are happening more often in the face of the increasing number of divorces and breakdown of relationships. Therefore, a diagnostic task becomes an in-depth assessment of intra-family relationships, ties connecting family members, the preferences of individual people and predicting the long-term consequences of the proposed solutions. The article is dedicated to this problem, and the issue is addressed through the theoretical perspective and the analysis of two cases, i.e., the situation of separated siblings. In the study of children, we present a relatively new method, based on the authors’ clinical experience, which could be used to diagnose the family situation of children. The first goal was to analyze the reasons for the separation of siblings whose parents were in conflict during the separation (first case study) and after the separation (second case study), as well as to assess the functioning of the children resulting from the family breakdown, and the decision to separate them from siblings. The analysis allowed identifying the areas of sibling functioning, which should become the subject of diagnosis when working on expert opinions in divorce cases, or cases establishing contact between parents and children. The second aim of the report was to assess the effectiveness of using play as a diagnostic method in a situation that is a source of stress for the child (family breakdown) and causes tension (the diagnostic process in which this topic is discussed).
... Adolescents may be working to support the family financially or a child may be caring for younger children and responsible for household chores while a guardian is working. These roles can promote increased autonomy and competence (Hooper, 2008). Alternatively, they can contribute to significant developmental challenges for the child (Borchet et al., 2021;Hooper, 2007). ...
Article
Parentification has been found to impact both the short- and long-term physical, mental, and social/emotional well-being of children and adolescents and can be viewed as a social determinant of health. The COVID-19 pandemic has only compounded these effects. We demonstrate how school counselors are uniquely positioned to identify and assist parentified students. Using a multitiered approach, we suggest school counseling strategies and interventions that support this vulnerable group of students.
... Emocjonalna zamiana ról natomiast odnosi się do takiego działania dziecka, które są wyrazem jego troski o zaspokajanie emocjonalnych i psychicznych potrzeb rodziców i/lub rodzeństwa. Funkcjonuje ono wówczas jako powiernik rodziców, jedyne ich wsparcie, towarzysz, mediator w rodzinnych konfliktach, partner (mate-like figure), wychowawca (providing nurturance) (Jurkovic, Morrell i Thirkield, 1999;Hooper, 2008a;2008b). Oba rodzaje parentyfikacji są odzwierciedleniem odpowiedzialności dziecka za rodzinę. Można je określić mianem "bohaterstwa", które jednakże wynika nie tyle z jego gotowości, rzeczywistej chęci czy jego rozwoju naturalnego, lecz z poczucia obowiązku, konieczności "ratowania" systemu rodzinnego i utrzymania wewnątrzrodzinnej więzi czy lojalności. ...
... Emocjonalna zamiana ról natomiast odnosi się do takiego działania dziecka, które są wyrazem jego troski o zaspokajanie emocjonalnych i psychicznych potrzeb rodziców i/lub rodzeństwa. Funkcjonuje ono wówczas jako powiernik rodziców, jedyne ich wsparcie, towarzysz, mediator w rodzinnych konfliktach, partner (mate-like figure), wychowawca (providing nurturance) (Jurkovic, Morrell i Thirkield, 1999;Hooper, 2008a;2008b). Oba rodzaje parentyfikacji są odzwierciedleniem odpowiedzialności dziecka za rodzinę. Można je określić mianem "bohaterstwa", które jednakże wynika nie tyle z jego gotowości, rzeczywistej chęci czy jego rozwoju naturalnego, lecz z poczucia obowiązku, konieczności "ratowania" systemu rodzinnego i utrzymania wewnątrzrodzinnej więzi czy lojalności. ...
Article
Full-text available
Parentyfikacja to zjawisko występujące w życiu rodzinnym, polegające na funkcjonalnym i/lub emocjonalnym odwróceniu ról między dzieckiem a rodzicem/rodzicami. W realizowanych przez autorkę badaniach, osadzonych w paradygmacie interpretatywnym, parentyfikacja staje się głównym przedmiotem zainteresowania. Doświadczenie odwrócenia ról rodzinnych jawi się jako zjawisko stanowiące element biografii, w różny sposób ją kształtując. W artykule podjęta została próba przedstawienia narracyjnych rekonstrukcji codzienności dziecka parentyfikowanego w rodzinie. Analiza wywiadów (auto)biograficznych pozwoliła na odtworzenie zadań i ról przez nie realizowanych.
... Furthermore, individuals' relationship with their parents has a great importance in their childhood experiences. Therefore, as it is thought that familial and personal characteristics might affect depression, the personal and familial characteristics of the individuals, this study were determined in line with the studies in the literature (Castro, Jones, & Mirsalimi, 2004;Danby et al., 2015;Earley & Cushway, 2002;Hooper, 2008;Leon & Rudy, 2005;Lewandowska-Walter, Borchet, Rostowska, Polomski, & Peplinska, 2017). Thus, it is also wondered how the parentification, which is "silver spoon", impacts married individuals. ...
... Moreover, the statistical analysis in the present research showed a significant relationship between resilience and family support. This result is consistent by several studies (Herdiana, Handoyo, & Suryanto, 2018;Turliuc, Danila, & Mairean, 2013;Gold, 2001;& Hooper, 2008). Individuals rely on family and significant individuals to process and cope with the traumatic experience. ...
Research
Full-text available
The coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has impacted people's mental health around the globe. Symptoms of trauma have increased drastically due to a perceived lack of control over the COVID-19 crisis, expectations of death or infection, and constant exposure to traumatic news. Resilience is defined as a person's use of coping skills to cope with traumatic events. The present research aimed to investigate the impact of resilience on COVID-19 trauma. An explanatory sequential design with mixed methods and two phases of research was employed.The first phase involved the use of the Arabic version of the Connor-Davidson Resilience Scale (CD-RISC) to measure resilience among adults. The total sample size was 778 participants. T tests and correlation analysis were used to analyze the participants' questionnaire responses. The results showed a significant difference in resilience between male and female participants. Additionally, educational level and familial support were correlated with resilience.The second phase involved the administration of open-ended questions to gather in-depth information from 17 participants who answered the CD-RISC. Interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA) was used in the coding process to analyze the qualitative data. The findings indicated that the COVID-19 crisis increased trauma symptoms and that participants exhibited cognitive, emotional, and behavioral resilience in coping with the pandemic. Moreover, a significant finding was that participants engaged in posttraumatic reconnection that emphasized reconnection with the self and others.
... A parentificação pode ser percebida como traumática e estressante, ou como não traumática, ou como regular, e até mesmo como um evento cultural no decorrer do cotidiano. A literatura sobre trauma aponta que o número de estressores tem mais a ver com o resultado ou com a produção dos efeitos colaterais do que um determinado estressor em si (HOOPER, 2008). ...
Article
Full-text available
Objetivo: O presente artigo propõe debater as correlações possíveis entre o processo de Alienação Parental e o processo de violentização, a fim de explorar suas possíveis implicações teóricas, bem como conscientizar sobre os danos que a naturalização da primeira prática e a internalização dos seus efeitos podem causar ao público vulnerável de crianças e adolescentes. Método:A partir da metodologia de levantamento bibliográfico e aplicação de questionário, busca-se explorar os conceitos trazidos pelo interacionismo radical (Athens), como comunidade-fantasma e violentização, na linha proposta por Ceretti e Lorenzo, com a prática da Alienação Parental descrita pela Lei brasileira nº 12.318/2010. Originalidade: A Alienação Parental foi expressamente descrita como violência psicológica no Brasil desde a promulgação da Lei nº 13.431/2017, porém não foram localizados trabalhos anteriores que tenham explorado o processo de violentização aqui apresentado na análise da Alienação Parental. Resultados: A revisão bibliográfica empreendida evidenciou a proximidade entre o processo de violentização descrito por Athens com as consequências causadas pelo processo de Alienação Parental no âmbito intrafamiliar, por meio do qual uma criança ou adolescente apreende um referencial de comportamento abusivo que afetará sua vida adulta, o que foi sugerido por pesquisa empírica exploratória, apresentada no artigo. Contribuições teóricas: O presente artigo reforça a natureza de situação de risco do ato de Alienação Parental. Além disso, amplia o leque da sua análise por parte das Instituições do Sistema da Justiça e demonstra a necessidade de que seja o tema inserido também no âmbito das Políticas Públicas no campo da família e da infância e juventude. Contribuições: Dado que atualmente há campanha pela revogação da Lei de Alienação Parental, o artigo aponta para a necessidade de manutenção da Lei nº 12.318/2010, diante da demonstração do complexo fenômeno de violentização inserido nessa prática, com potencial de transmissão intergeracional.
Article
Full-text available
This article explores Lesley Nneka Arimah’s “Windfalls” (2017) from a literary mobility studies perspective, applying notions of mobility studies such as the driving-event, friction, arrhythmia, and stickiness for an in-depth textual analysis. Given that its female migrant protagonists are constantly on the move, tropes of mobility recur throughout the story. Cars, filling stations, parking lots, truckers, motels and the figure of the sojourner play a pivotal role in defining its Afrodiasporic protagonists’ postmigratory mobilities in the United States. Arimah’s depiction of automobility and motel-dwelling underlines her theme of a flawed mother-daughter relationship and their impossibility of achieving the promised American Dream. A close reading of the fictional travellers’ displacements uncovers a critical analysis of automobility and motel-dwelling as forms of subversion of hegemonic mothering. Particular attention is drawn to how the female protagonists’ motilities are determined by their racialised gendered bodies. By analysing the literary representation of concrete and tangible mobilities performed by female Nigerian migrants, this study acknowleges the importance of exploring a key characteristic of third-generation Afrodiasporic fiction which has mostly gone unnoticed.
Article
Full-text available
The concept of boundary dissolution has a long history in both the psychodynamic and family systems literatures and is linked to a number of important processes in developmental psychopathology. However, advancements in the empirical study of boundary dissolution have been hindered by the multiplicity of terms and conceptualizations that have been used to capture the construct. The purpose of this paper is to present a multidimensional model of boundary dissolution and to show how the specific dimensions of the construct might be differentially linked to pathological processes in development. Research from a series of studies is presented that lends support to this model.
Article
An attachment theory framework is applied toward understanding the emergence of depressive symptomatology and lower perceived competence in maltreated and nonmaltreated children. Hypotheses that maltreated children with nonoptimal patterns of relatedness evidence elevated depressive symptomatology and lower competence, whereas nonmaltreated children with optimal or adequate patterns of relatedness exhibit the least depressive symptomatology and higher competence, were confirmed. Additionally, differentiations between maltreated children with and without optimal or adequate patterns of relatedness emerged, suggesting that relatedness may mitigate against the adverse effects of maltreatment. Moreover, sexually abused children with confused patterns of relatedness evidenced clinically significant depressive symptomatology. Results are discussed with regard to mechanisms that contribute to adaptation or maladaptation in children with negative caregiving histories.
Article
This article addresses distinctions underlying concepts of resilience and thriving and issues in conceptualizing thriving. Thriving (physical or psychological) may reflect decreased reactivity to subsequent stressors, faster recovery from subsequent stressors, or a consistently higher level of functioning. Psychological thriving may reflect gains in skill, knowledge, confidence, or a sense of security in personal relationships. Psychological thriving resembles other instances of growth. It probably does not depend on the occurrence of a discrete traumatic event or longer term trauma, though such events may elicit it. An important question is why some people thrive, whereas others are impaired, given the same event. A potential answer rests on the idea that differences in confidence and mastery are self-perpetuating and self-intensifying. This idea suggests a number of variables whose role in thriving is worth closer study, including personality variables such as optimism, contextual variables such as social support, and situational variables such as the coping reactions elicited by the adverse event.
Article
The current study, utilizing a group of 197 undergraduate students, found that childhood parentification is associated with shame-proneness in adults (when the shared variance with guiltproneness is controlled). Parentification, the reversal of parent and child roles, requires a premature identification with the parent(s)' expectations and needs, at the expense of the development of the child's true talents and gifts, often leaving the child feeling ashamed of the true self's unrewarded strivings. This finding is linked theoretically to an earlier study that found a relationship between childhood parentification and both narcissistic and masochistic personality characteristics (Jones & Wells, 1996). A secondary finding supported a predicted relationship between guilt and shame. Clinicians are encouraged to attend to the possibilities of these connections when planning and executing treatment plans with parentified adults.
Article
Foreword - Lucy Berliner Preface - David Finkelhor Introduction PART ONE: INCIDENCE OF CHILD ABUSE Type and Forms of Child Maltreatment PART TWO: THE LONG-TERM IMPACTS OF CHILD ABUSE: INTEGRATION OF RESEARCH AND THEORY Long-Term Impacts of Child Abuse I Psychological Responses Long-Term Impacts of Child Abuse II Behaviors and Relationships PART THREE: EXPLORING THE SOLUTION: ABUSE-FOCUSED PSYCHOTHERAPY Philosophy of Treatment Parameters of Treatment I Process Issues Parameters of Treatment II Intervention Approaches Special Issues in Abuse-Focused Therapy Summary Appendix The Child Maltreatment Interview Schedule
Article
Three aspects of the burgeoning literature on parental and nonparental child care pertaining to socioemotional development during the infancy, preschool, and school-age years are reviewed. The first section deals with the determinants of parenting and considers factors and processes that influence parental behavior and parent-child interaction—specifically, child characteristics, parent characteristics, marital relations, and social support. Second, correlational research linking parent-child interaction and child development is examined, with the focus first upon emotional support, parental responsiveness, and attachment security during the first years of life, then upon the cooperation and compliance during the toddler and preschool years, and finally upon the interrelation of relationships, especially linkages between parent-child and peer relationships. Finally, six waves of research on the effects of nonparental child care are outlined, along with directions for future research. A concluding section highlights points of convergence across these three areas of inquiry.