Parentification is defined as the phenomenon where children take caregiving responsibilities and assume such a role for their parents, siblings or other family members, at the expense of their own developmental needs.
Parentified children are, for whichever reason, forced to grow up early and faster than they “should” have. They don’t get to fully experience the carelessness of their childhood, and they learn to ignore and neglect their own needs- simply because there was no real space for this to happen.
Parentified individuals may find it hard to view themselves as their own person, since they have been used to always putting their own needs aside. Their identity actually depends on their ability to suppress their needs. In most cases, there wasn’t even the space for them to be seen, listened to and regarded with respect.
Since it is likely that their family already had too many problems to cope with, it is not surprising that they learned to be quiet, voiceless and without demands. In adulthood, this results in low self-worth and self-esteem, and a confusion around what it means to be and express themselves.
Since parentified children,from an early age shut down their own needs or wishes, their adulthood translates into an individual who has difficulty employing self-care, asserting their own wishes and boundaries, and expressing their True Self.
They are so used to inhibiting their self-expression, that doing otherwise feels wrong, and self-care feels selfish. They may be driven to please others, have difficulty saying no, because some of the core beliefs that were engrained to them while growing up were “If I am a good girl, quiet and without own needs, then I will be loved and cared about.