children parenting parents-fusion-cutoff.docx - By Dr Hugh R Leavell THE PARENTIFIED CHILD Executive leadership is so vital in families that a child

children parenting parents-fusion-cutoff.docx - By Dr Hugh...

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By Dr. Hugh R. Leavell THE PARENTIFIED CHILD Executive leadership is so vital in families that a child will often take on this role, or parts of it. A child may become a mediator in parental conflicts, a confidante to a grieving parent, an assistant to an overburdened parent, a lover to a parent whose rightful partner has withdrawn affection. Power has its perks. The job carries status and privileges that are attractive to the child. To be treated as mature seems, to the child, a good thing. Loyalty, love and feeling needed create a potent inducement to fill and even enlarge upon the pseudo-parental role. When the child reaches adolescence, the press of self- interest may cause an abrupt change. The torch may be passed to a sibling, but not always. Some will remain their parent’s caretaker for life. Until this is resolved, the adult parentified child will be unable to give freely to his or her own spouse and children. As soon as they marry they find themselves boxed into a loyalty conflict. People who grew up under these conditions feel like they never had a childhood. And they miss it, too. The normal play and peer relationship activities of childhood have important developmental meaning. When they don’t happen on schedule, something of value is missing for life. Children need to trust their parents to be parents. If parents fail in this, the child may never learn to trust.
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