The Parentified Child


‘Adultification’ of a child by a parent entails that parent inappropriately assigning the child an adult role within the family that s/he is too young, and too developmentally immature, to take on or cope with.

It may involve the parent treating the child like an adult friend, a partner, a confidante or, as happened in my own case, a kind of personal counsellor/therapist (even before I was a teenager, my mother referred to me as her ‘Little Psychiatrist’, amongst other, somewhat less complimentary, things, as I have written about elsewhere on this site).

The child may be ‘adultified’ in such a way even when the parent has access to more appropriate means of emotional support such as close friends or adult family members; however, the phenomenon is especially likely to occur if a parent has recently divorced or separated. In such a situation, for example, the newly single mother may start to use her son (for it is more frequently a son than daughter in such cases, according to research) for psychological and emotional support; if her recent separation has not been amicable there is often a danger that she may enlist her son as an ‘ally’ against this other parent, perhaps destroying the father-son relationship. 

Source: http://childhoodtraumarecovery.com/2016/08/10/adultification-of-the-child-by-the-parent/

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