No Child’s Job Is To Heal The Parent(s)

Emotional incest, covert incest, parentification & parentalizing.  All describe the same abusive behavior & a topic I’ve written about before.  When a parent treats their child as an equal rather than their child, expecting that child to listen to their woes, tales of marital discord, details of their sex life, &/or expecting their child to care for them in ways such as cooking & cleaning for them well beyond what is age appropriate, it damages the child psychologically.  The child in this situation often grows up anxious, depressed, lacking healthy relationship skills, feels guilt for things they aren’t responsible for & may even have issues with addiction.  Often at the very least, they choose very poorly suited romantic partners.

Sadly, parentalizing is barely discussed in a negative light.  Many people see a child & her parent behaving in this way & praise their “close” or “loving” relationship.  They even tell the child how lucky she is to have a mom who loves her so much, how she has to be strong for her mom or other similar comments.  And, when the child, no matter the age, does something that upsets her parent or *gasp* thinks of herself first, she is labeled unappreciative, selfish, a spoiled brat & more.  This lays even more unnecessary guilt on that child, & it is absolutely unfair!

Let’s get one thing straight.  No one is responsible for anyone else’s emotions.  Yes, someone you love can make you feel happy, sad, angry, etc. sometimes, but that doesn’t mean they are in control of your emotions.  YOU ARE!  This is especially true for children.  Children need to be children, not their parent’s emotional caregiver!

When a parent is abandoned by someone they love, & the only person close to them is their child, it can be understandable they reach out to their child for comfort & companionship.  That doesn’t make it right, though!  Children are growing up – that is enough responsibility on their little shoulders!

Children also didn’t ask to be born.  It’s not their fault if the parents couldn’t maintain a healthy & loving relationship.  Making the child feel that they must step into the role of that other parent is cruel, abusive & unfair!

If you grew up in this sort of situation, my heart goes out to you.  I am so sorry for the pain & suffering you have been through.  Having been there myself I know it is a miserable situation.

If it is still happening, you’re going to have to set some serious boundaries with your parent.  Change the subject as soon as you start to feel uncomfortable.  Tell your parent you’re leaving or hanging up the phone if she insists on talking about your other parent that way, then follow through with your threat if need be.

Whether the abuse is still happening or not, you’re going to need to heal from the damage done.  Pray.  Get angry.  Cry.  Remind yourself what was done to you was unfair & undeserved.  Write in a journal.  Talk to a trusted friend or therapist.  Do whatever helps you to heal!

You can heal from the effects of emotional incest.  It takes time & work, but it can be done.  xoxo


Filed under Abuse and the Healing Journey, Mental Health, Narcissism

17 responses to “No Child’s Job Is To Heal The Parent(s)

  1. Profound, and brilliant as usual. And just what I needed today.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Great post, Cynthia. Parentification. Yes, it is abusive. And got it from both parents.

    It starts with my earliest memories. Two years old, and my parents are arguing and yelling at each other. Then my dad picks me up and holds me on his lap. “Linda still loves me, even if nobody else does,” he says. This happened many times.

    My mother did similar things, plus she confided in me as though I were her best friend. Four years old, and she is telling me all the romantic details about her former boyfriend, her “true love” that she dated before she met my dad. By the time I was twelve, I knew many details about my mother’s sex life, which I never wanted or needed to know. Sick, is what that is!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Love love love!!! Soooo true! This was my life with my mom.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I agree with “get angry” – something most of us were not allowed to do – especially if female. There is power in anger, not that we have to act it out on someone. Just write your angry, rageful thoughts, throw rocks, swing a bat, golf club, whatever feels great to discharge that pent up angst, those words that were silenced, the hate for your situation, for your parents. Anger needs expression, it is a catalyst to transform your power. I write about anger, a lot. I have plenty but now it works for me rather than against me. I process it maturely when it arises. Great read, gets people talking and thinking.

    Liked by 2 people

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s