The Trauma of Parentification

The Trauma of Parentification

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00:01
[Music] hey hi everyone my name is jerry wise and i've been a life and relationship coach for many years helping people to learn to self-differentiate and dealing with growing up in dysfunctional families this video is entitled the trauma of parentification i hope that you'll subscribe like comment and join
00:41
to support making more videos in joining you may need to use your browser and not just your phone app i've found people have struggles if they're not using their browser to be able to join so not all the apps and not everything on your phone has everything youtube has so you have may have to use your browser for that uh certainly we all know children need to be loved
01:12
protected cared for and have adults take them seriously but in many families that doesn't happen and many families they know they have no choice but to become parentified and take over some non-child roles in the family and that can be traumatizing i have many many clients who have experienced parentification
01:44
parentification occurs when a child takes on adult tasks and it can either be emotional or instrumental for example emotional would be carrying the emotional load of a parent who's not functioning very well such as an alcoholic father co-dependent mother and we comfort the codependent mother and are their therapist and support system for that that's a parentification of the
02:15
child because we're not there to take care of our parents when we're children we can be a comforter or we can be a scapegoat or a whipping boy is another way in which we are you be used parentification in the family and another way in which we are parentified we must take on a role beyond our just being a child and the family
02:48
parentification is defined as the phenomenon where children take care giving responsibilities and assume such a role for their parents siblings or other family members at the expense of their own needs and their own developmental childhood needs that's when we are parentified and so you might ask well you know don't always don't children have to maybe do chores and do
03:19
you know some things well child appropriate and child developmental growth tasks are okay i mean certainly kids may need to make their bed you know maybe they can even learn to do dishes but parentification is when you are a child and you're now becoming a parent or an adult and so it's not age appropriate responsibilities so why is it so destructive and
03:49
traumatizing to be parentified we lose our childhood when we are parentified as children we become a parent or an adult when we are still a child uh we're parentified and traumatized when we be when we take on inappropriate or high level adult responsibilities combined with unrealistic expectations such as you know i had a client who was
04:21
talking about she was seven years old her mom had basically abandoned the family going living with another guy her father was still there he was under functioning uh very dysfunctional family she's seven her sister's five she now becomes the parent for the five-year-old inappropriate high-level adult responsibilities taking care of this five-year-old child combined with unrealistic expectations she needs to get the child up to go to
04:52
school she needs to bathe them and and cook for them and do all that and then she ends up with being traumatized also by you know she doesn't know what to do she knows if you put bacon in the microwave it cooks but she doesn't know the plate gets hot too so she goes in to pull the plate out burns her fingers drops on her foot now she has a scar on her foot as an adult because she's a seven-year-old trying to
05:22
do bacon for a five-year-old just not age-appropriate kids can certainly learn how to use a microwave but they need help they need instruction they need and they don't need to be asked to do it when they're young we are traumatized by parentification because it depletes our emotional and physical resources as children and it constitutes a role reversal or role corruption our role in our family to be just a
05:56
child gets corrupted or reversed it also becomes the seed bed of the imposter syndrome and we become who we are not and we don't feel real or we don't feel ourselves there's some excellent research that adults who are parentified will struggle heavily with the imposter syndrome i'm a fake if you really knew who i was if you really knew me
06:32
you maybe wouldn't like me um i don't even know me and i can't be myself uh that kind of impostor syndrome happens with acoas acons adult children of narcissists and it's certainly when we are parentified then we don't learn ourselves and to be ourselves parentification is really a form of emotional abuse and exploitation
07:07
that stems from neglect the parents have checked out and now we are left with the responsibilities or they've checked out of some of their own adult responsibilities or their own taking care of their own emotional psychological needs and we put they put that on us and then we are abused and exploited through that neglect and it certainly makes over-functioning as an imprinted way of life
07:42
my needs are banished um and everyone borrows self from me though i may only be seven years old i may want to be ten years old i may only be five years old or 13 years old and everyone borrows itself from me and i haven't even developed myself yet and our own selves were traumatized because our own selves are defined for
08:14
us not by us and so this is very painful and traumatizing so we spend the rest of our lives having ourselves defined by other people and not by us and i work with people to help them learn to have a self defined by themselves and not by everybody else and our identity as children and then as adults depends on our ability to
08:48
suppress our needs when we're a parentified child we learn to be quiet voiceless and without demands this creates low self-worth low self-esteem and becomes very traumatizing that way parentification is a boundary-less experience in other words nobody has any boundaries children do adult things adult do adults
09:24
do children things or act like children and children do adult things there's no boundaries there's no this is you being valued this is me being valued this is appropriate respect this is all that's it's all mushed up and the boundaries are just overlapped we all share this big super self of the family and your role is to be parentified or your role is to carry the family or
09:56
carry a part of the family which should not be carried by you um and our own self-care is accompanied by intense feelings of guilt and shame so taking care of yourself is equated with guilt and shame or connected to guilt and shame certainly we never learned to say no because you can't say no if i don't take care if i'm seven-year-old and i don't take care of
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my five-year-old sister who else is going to do it can i say no to anybody there's nobody i can say no to in fact i just better do it because she's not going to thrive and survive and we let never learn how to say no and i do like the book when i say no i feel guilty i believe it's by manuel smith i've read it a couple times it's a great book it really helped me in the beginning when i say no i feel guilty
11:01
we then are traumatized by being imprinted with this belief if i'm a good girl or good boy if i'm compliant if i'm obedient and quiet and without my own needs then i will be loved approved of cared about and not abused that's an imprinting message that we learn from parentification
11:30
then if we're in a narcissistic family we learn if i'm a good girl or a good boy compliant obedient quiet without your own needs you'll still be ignored abused and demeaned in a narcissistic family so it becomes a double down problem in the family especially for narcissistic families and i would recommend watching my last video which is the 22 rules of a
12:00
dysfunctional narcissistic family when we are parentified we end up being human doings and not human beings and you've probably heard that phrase before but people really do talk about i know i'm a human doer rather than a human being um as parentified children we are also traumatized by being given way too much information uh than we can handle
12:35
while being given less information that we need we have too much adult information and we're not given information that would help us develop as children and knowledge of things how to cook bacon in a microwave but yet i'm given way too much information about my parents marriage sex life emotional functioning which i can't handle but not enough information to know how to cook the bacon in the microwave
13:08
so given too much information and too little than what we need and many times we will suffer from what i just mentioned and call the double down syndrome in which we spend our lives using the strategy of try harder do more try harder and harder versus the strategy of letting go and detachment we get stuck in the pattern of trying harder rather than maybe this is a
13:40
situation which we need to let go not try harder and that this gets us into the enabling problem and i talked with a client i remember i think was a year ago and she was from i don't know what state or what country even and it was she was still having a 43 year old son live with her and she's going is it my job to
14:10
create in him greater confidence so that he can function as an adult and isn't it that my job as a parent come to find out she was a parentified child now she has a child who's 43 years old who can work who can living with her in a one-bedroom you know apartment and um and supporting him because we just keep trying harder to do
14:41
what they need to be doing rather than having boundaries of no this is his task now it's not your task as as a parent your parenting ended at 18. now you're a mother and an adult and so we end up being brothers and sisters as adults not parent and child that needs to become more even once 18 hits or some age near that in which you're an adult i'm an adult i no longer
15:14
can parent you out of these problems and so he had spent a long time living with her and he's still you know 43 and not functioning and thriving and we began to deal with that and it was very helpful for her to think in new ways about parenting and about mothering and about adulting and being mature both for herself and for her adult child and certainly parentification can affect our emotional regulation
15:49
and our physical health it can cause us to be sick it can cause us to be emotionally sick when we are parentified and in fact sometimes parentifies children uh will be sick as a symptom to voice the pain of the family because nobody's dealing with the pain of the family and it's on the parentified child
16:20
that can be a whole other video uh in and of itself as parentified children were more likely to become entangled in abusive relationships victimhood and martyrdom as adults and another way it traumatizes us is it creates the foundation for trauma bonding and insecure attachment styles we find we are bonded through trauma and relationships and have a very insecure
16:53
attachment style we want to attach but we're very insecure we fear abandonment we get enmeshed we're craving love that we never got and we just hang on and try harder and then that bond in an unhealthy relationship just continues forward this toxic co-dependent dynamic between parent and child ends up being the basis for our
17:25
trauma-bonding relationships in adulthood with abusers narcissists self-absorbed and low empathy partners we end up craving intimacy and actually become addicted to intimacy or love because we haven't had it and we become enmeshed and then we fear abandonment parentification creates sibling relationships uh difficulties and
17:59
complicates sibling relationships in adulthood because they see you as the parentified child even as an adult and so you're supposed to do more to help mom and dad not us that's your job and then when parents age we can also be drawn into that as well well who takes care of the aging parent it's the parentified child that is supposed to do that so they're fine with their under functioning they want you to
18:31
over function and sorting that out it i would advise getting some help for that if you find yourself now as an adult with aging parents you want to be very careful about your over functioning or you'll get drawn into the same childhood pattern you had before parentified children also tend to develop a delay in trauma awareness so they don't even realize they're being traumatized now
19:01
because they don't have that trauma awareness it's been so normal the the upside of parentified children as adults is that we are survivors resilient and can be self-contained um we learn it's safer depend to depend on myself than anyone else so we have that kind of resilience and that kind of strength we also have the other sides in which we
19:35
don't know how to get our needs met may have a hard time having healthy relationships but we have some upsides and and with almost all things there are upsides and downsides negative things can have upsides positive things can have downsides i would recommend joanna's pentazi p-a-n-t-a-z-i her article on parentification and trauma it's online if you want to learn more
20:08
i'll put the reference below in the description and all of these struggles that i've mentioned are helped by coaching therapy books reading bibliotherapy reading 12-step meetings support groups uh there are you know church groups that have a great meeting groups uh for those who grew up in dysfunctional families and the good news is you don't have to
20:40
stay stuck in these patterns that's the good news there is recovery for you for the therapists out there i would have you read burden children theory research and treatment of parentification and i would suggest you read lost childhoods the plight of the parentified child for lay readers and for those of you who are not therapists you might want to read children of the self-absorbed
21:12
a grown-up's guide to getting over narcissistic parents and you might want to read self-care for adult children of emotionally immature parents honor your emotions nurture yourself and live with confidence that's kind of a long title to that book but i would recommend that uh i hope you will just subscribe join like and comment on this video i
21:42
hope you'll uh pass it on to your social network i want to thank you for joining me today have a great day and be wise [Music] you

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