Why Would A Child Take On The Role Of Parent?

As I mentioned in the last post about parentification, there are two types of parentification:

???????????????????????????????????? ???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????? – Acting as a friend and confidant to a parent, becoming the peacemaker, emotionally supporting the family.

I???????????????????????????????????????????? ???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????? – helping the family with physical tasks such as cleaning, shopping, and caring for younger siblings.

All parentification happens as a RESPONSE. The child is either forced to step in or manipulated into playing the role of a parent.

???????????????????????????????????? ???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????? – An example is a mother who is depressed and not getting the affection and attention she wants from her husband. The mother talks to the child about how neglectful her husband is and asks the child to talk to her husband about his behaviour. The mother seeks support and solace in the child, rather than with her husband. The mother allows the child to sleep in bed with her and sit in the front of the car as ‘rewards’.

Instrumental Parentification – An example is a single mother who has two children, one 13 and one 3. She goes out in the evenings and leaves the younger child with the 13-year-old. The older child is forced to care for the younger child, put her to bed, feed her and take care of her until her mother returns. 

Sensitive children are more likely to be parentified because the child knows what is needed and has empathy for the parents and other siblings. These children can become adults too quickly, and essentially miss out on their childhood. 

If you are a parent reading this, the general rule of thumb is that children should have the opportunity to be children.

what would a child take on the role of parent?