Are you the ‘mom’ of your group, taking care of everything and everyone around? Or an independent person who doesn’t need anyone for anything and is usually emotionally guarded because no one really needs to know what’s going on with you? Chances are you are dealing with parentification or were a parentified child.
A parentified child is someone who had to take on the responsibilities of a caregiver or an adult while they were a child themselves.
You might have been pushed to take care of your siblings or your parents or become a referee in your parents’ arguments. The habits you pick up to cope with the things going on at home might have protected you from disappointment, but it also prevents you from forming deep and meaningful relationships.
Here are some signs to understand why you behave the way you do, and to know if you were a parentified child. Because it’s only when you understand what’s going on that you can work on it.
1. You were called ‘too mature’ for your age
2. You didn’t share how you were feeling with those around you, especially your parents, to avoid stressing them out and continue to do so as an adult
3. You felt the need to jump in to solve conflicts between your family members and were the peacemaker in the family
4. You were always forced into arguments between your parents
5. You often provided emotional support to your parents
6. You always have to be ‘in control’ and are the responsible one
7. It’s hard to trust others because you’ve learned not to ask for help
8. You had to figure out most of the things on your own
9. You had to take care of your parents or siblings while you were a child yourself
10. You feel you had to become an adult very early on because no one else around you was taking on the role
11. You have trouble “letting loose” and feel the need for structure
12. You don’t really remember how it was “being a kid”
13. You are very empathetic and often figure out others are going through something without them even saying it
14. You feel like your efforts are not being appreciated but continue taking care of others anyway
15. You are often too hard on yourself
Being ‘responsible’ often feels lonely. People often assume since you’re so good at doing everything on your own that you don’t need someone once in a while, and that could be very mentally straining. But that might also be because you made them believe you don’t need anyone.
While sharing some responsibilities at home is good having to do everything on your own without asking for any help while taking care of everyone and their feelings could be very unhealthy.
You should pay attention when you’re being too hard on yourself. Your needs are important too and they don’t need to get ignored.
Now that you know there might be something going on underneath all those layers of responsibility, why not explore the option of therapy? It might serve you well. Plus, that inner child of yours needs an outlet as well, right?
You can read more about parentification here.