Everyone plays different roles at various points in their life. As a child or teen, the role is to play, focus on school, have minor responsibilities, and to make mistakes. But, everyone is not given the right to be a kid. Some are robbed of a childhood through parentification.

What is parentification? Parentification is the process of a role reversal where a child plays the parent to themselves or to their parent.

Here are a 4 signs parentification happened to you:

#1 Adults considered you very mature at a young age:

Many adults noted your high level of responsibility and maturity during your childhood. Your thoughts were less focused on play and more on the state of your family or yourself, frequently thinking up ways to take care of yourself or your family.

#2 Took on more and/or heavier responsibilities than your average peer:

Most teens and children have the responsibilities of school work, chores, and sometimes a part-time job. But, you added on tasks such as picking up your siblings from school, helping them with their homework, cooking for them, etc.

You had to completely manage and take care of yourself and your family because no one else was available. In addition, a part-time job was not- negotiable but necessary to support yourself or your family financially.

#3 Your parent emotionally leaned on you:

You become your mother or father’s best friend, confidant, therapist, etc. Your parent(s) often divulged to you about issues such as financial struggles, relationship difficulties, or personal stressors. Instead of receiving comfort or advice, you gave it to your parents.

#4 You felt burdened and responsible for taking care of the family:

You frequently felt anxious or worried about the state of your family. There was a sense of obligation to help your family or to problem-solve your parent’s issue. Parentification started when adult burdens were laid on you at an early age.


Often, parentification occurs when children or teens live in a single parent home or if their parent has a substance abuse issue. Many children or teens are pushed into the adult role because their parent is absent. The role reversal can be very difficult for a child and expose them to early maturity and a lack of a childhood. Missing out on a childhood and having to play the adult role can lead to future issues.

Issues Arising After Parentification

As an adult you have boundary issues with your parent:

Your parent still seeks you out for financial or emotional help. Often times, your parent takes advantage of you. But, you have difficulty saying no to them. Your parent role never ended.

You tend to choose dependent partners:

You become the caregiver to your partner. Instead of having a balanced and healthy relationship, you are the constant comforter or fixer. You end up mothering or fathering your partner.

You parentify your children:

Because of your experience, you expect your children to fulfill adult-like roles and tasks. You give more and more duties to your children then what is appropriate. The cycle of parentification reoccurs unintentionally.

Your overlook your own needs:

You do not understand your needs are important which leads to lack self-care and increased stress, anxiety, and frustration. You prioritize other people’s issues over your own.


You might feel shocked by how well you connect to the points above. However, parentification might be your past but it does not have to effect your present and future. And, you do not have to let parentification negatively impact your relationships and/or family. Do not let your absent childhood steal your peace today.

If you identify with any of these issues then call Life Counseling Solutions today at 407-622-1770 or make an counseling appointment with Colleen Andre here.  

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About the Author:

Colleen values the importance of a comfortable and non-judgmental atmosphere. At the heart of her work, she seeks to create a safe environment in which clients can feel at ease while working through life’s difficulties. Her specialty is working with women and adolescents struggling with anxiety, trauma or past pain, and life transitions. She also enjoys assisting those facing multicultural or race-related issues. Colleen is dedicated to equipping clients with practical skills, so they can better manage and reduce symptoms to live a happier and healthier life. See Colleen’s full bio here.

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