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Taking Away a Kid’s Freedom

by Sharing Randomly 6 months ago in Family
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Parentification — Warning Signs And What Can Help You Overcome It

Taking Away a Kid’s Freedom
Photo by Chinh Le Duc on Unsplash

Parentification is a term that has gained more and more traction over the years, but what is it? According to The Awareness Centre, it is a lack of boundaries within families, where the children take on responsibilities that are usually reserved for adults. This definition was first referred to in 1973 by Boszormenyi-Nagy & Spark, so it’s not even a new term all along!

In these cases, it is seen that the kids grow up too quickly because they have to be the caregivers for their siblings or in other cases, even for their parents. Maturity comes by rather fast so they can't appreciate their true childhood.

When you were a kid, did you go to playdates? Went to the park and hung out with your friends? Did you ever doodle all day long? Did you ever played with dolls or racing cars? Were you able to play sports until you got so tired?

There are many activities that can be overseen with parentification because the child willingly or because they were forced, has to restructure their priorities at a young age. Just imagine that you couldn’t do all of your favorite hobbies because of parentification. Would you be the same right now?

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There are many cases where you can see parentification. It can be present if the parents are abusing certain substances or when the parents, because of supporting their family, have to work overtime leaving responsibilities to their children.

Other examples can be applied but there are two different types of parentification: emotional and instrumental. As the first one says, people from the family will be emotionally depending on them for support. And instrumental parentification is where the responsibilities can shift from cooking to feeding your family all the way to even caring for a disabled or addicted parent.

With both types of parentification, you can stripe away valuable and precious childhood moments. Moments that can guide you to knowing how to appreciate the present time-being as you don’t need to stress over certain matters.

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It also has to be mentioned that when young, it's fine to take on some responsibilities since it can give you a sense of competence but everything has to have an appropriate measure. Helping around the house can form our characters and know how to take care of our homes but this cannot affect the normal maturity process.

With this being said, only a quarter of kids will experience a negative aftereffect of parentification in their adulthood. For the positive, you can even observe that they would be the “caretakers” of the friend’s group or they can further on have caregiving professional roles. They also have higher empathy and emotional intelligence.

But the negative effects can be really harmful since they can cause severe depression, anxiety, eating disorders, and can lead to having low self-esteem. This is seen where the parentification was too excessive to be able to be seen as beneficial.

It can also be similar to “spousification”, where an example would be that the mother, unfortunately, passed away but then the eldest daughter had to take in for her. These are different concepts but can explore similar aftereffects.

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How to distinguish warning signs of parentification and how to overcome it

An important symptom is that you have trouble to “let loose” because you always have a sense of responsibility. You have to analyze all the responsibilities you have had since you were young, and analyze if they were proper for your age.

You may like caring for others from a young age, but also allow yourself to let your inner child enjoy himself yet in adulthood. Don’t ignore YOUR needs and be playful! Try to do something you love, find a new hobby.

And I think the most important one is to acknowledge you were parentified. As Psychology Today says, it’s to take responsibility and recognizing the pain it may inflict on you. The best you can do is know your emotions, how they were in the past and how they are right now. In the end, only you can change the path you are facing. Emotional and mental health is key!

Cognitive Behavioral therapy is said to be fundamental to overcoming parentification. This is where professionals help you analyze and change the way you perceive yourself, change the way you think and behave. All with the purpose of you having a better life. But this is only one example and it is not for everyone, you have to find what fits you the most and what you think could be more beneficial. Seeking professional guidance is also key.

In one way or another, the unnatural process of becoming mature can drift us. It may have positive or negative impacts, but it will change us. It’s important to identify parentification as a kid, as a teenager, and the effects as an adult.

How do YOU feel?

This article was written thanks to the following websites:

Fagan, Abigail. “14 Signs You Were Parentified as a Child.” Psychology Today, 27 January 2020, https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/healing-together/202001/14-signs-you-were-parentified-child.

Harris, Nicole. “What Is Parentification? Spotting the Warning Signs and How to Let Kids Be Kids.” Parents, 26 April 2021, https://www.parents.com/kids/development/what-is-parentification-spotting-the-warning-signs-and-how-to-let-kids-be-kids/.

Launder, Amy. “Growing Up Too Quickly: Parentified Children.” The Awareness Centre, https://theawarenesscentre.com/parentification/.

Newport Academy. “How Parentification Impacts Teen Mental Health.” Newport Academy, 16 September 2019, https://www.newportacademy.com/resources/mental-health/parentification/.

NHS. “Overview — Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).” NHS, https://www.nhs.uk/mental-health/talking-therapies-medicine-treatments/talking-therapies-and-counselling/cognitive-behavioural-therapy-cbt/overview/.

“Parentification.” Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parentification.

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About the author

Sharing Randomly

Just a normal woman with lots to share. I write about art, mental health, entrepreneurship, and lots more.

Support me: https://ko-fi.com/sharingrandomly

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