Parentification is when a child is forced to take on the role of an adult. Many children get pushed into the role of caretaker for their younger siblings or become the referee in their parent’s arguments. When caregivers aren’t able to fully show up for themselves, children get put into developmentally inappropriate situations.

  1. Grew up feeling like you had to be responsible
  2. Trouble with play or “letting loose”
  3. Like to feel in control
  4. Pulled into arguments or issues between caregivers
  5. Felt like you were given responsibilities that were not appropriate for someone your age
  6. Often compliments for being “so good” and “so responsible”
  7. May feel that being self-reliant is better than trying to trust others
  8. Don’t really remember “being a kid”
  9. Parents had trouble caring for themselves or others and placed the responsibility on you
  10. Often find yourself becoming a caregiver for others
  11. Being a caretaker feels good, even when you are sacrificing parts of yourself
  12. Heightened sense of empathy and an ability to more closely connect with others
  13. Feel like you need to be the peacemaker
  14. Feel like your efforts aren’t appreciated
  • Become aware. Accept that you have an inner child and get to know it. You need to take this voice seriously and understand that whether you like it or not, it’s there.
  • Get to know what your inner child needs.  Many kids grow up learning that their needs aren’t important or they need to squash them in order to survive. Listening to yourself and acknowledging your needs can be a totally foreign concept. What we did not receive from our caregivers as children is often exactly what we need.
  • Take responsibility.  This is really hard. You have to recognize the pain of not having your childhood needs met. You have to recognize that it wasn’t fair and it hurt. Now you are the adult saddled with the responsibility of re-parenting yourself. It’s ok to say it wasn’t fair and to wish it was different. But the only way to move forward is to say, "I am going to take it from here. I am my own hero. I don’t need to live this way."
  • Become a parent and friend to your inner child. Take inventory of what you did not receive as a child and what needs still need to be met. This is different for everyone. Maybe you didn’t have structure as a child, so you need it now. Maybe you had entirely too much structure as a child, and now you need freedom.
  • Find a way to honor your inner child consistently. Below is a list of things your inner child might need.

Structure: Create structure in your day through routine, scheduling, or having a set bedtime or wake up time. Commit to things and follow through. Children who were parentified were often forced to create structure for others or ignored their own needs in order to maintain the status quo. Find a way to create structure that is meaningful to you and feels safe.



14 Signs You Were Parentified as a Child

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