How To Recognise Parentification

Parentification has been referred to as an INVISIBLE childhood trauma. 

One study of 783 university students into the links between parentification and later adult wellness showed those who experienced parentification to have an increased risk of depression, anxiety, eating disorders and substance abuse (Hooper, Marotta, & Lanthier, 2008).

Dangers of Parentification as an adult:

  • Over working
  • Taking on too much responsibility
  • OR avoiding responsibility
  • Compulsive caretaking
  • Mistrust of the world
  • Feeling that you are never supported
  • Exhaustion
  • Over-giving, physically and emotionally 

What about potential POSITIVE outcomes?

Yes, they do exist! According to the research, parentified children, when they become adults, may also have:

  • High resilience
  • Independence
  • Feeling able to cope with life
  • Feeling needed
  • Strong work ethic

Do you recognise any of this in yourself or in family members?


Reference: Hooper, L. M., Marotta, S. A., & Lanthier, R. P. (2008). Predictors of growth and distress following childhood parentification: A retrospective exploratory study. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 17(5), 693-705.