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Of Parentification/Emotional Incest As A Form Of Emotional Abuse 2

GAONE MONAU
This article is a worthy continuance of the former.

Adults who were parentified as kids are more likely to suffer from depression and self-destructive behaviours if they do not find healing from the peril of parentification. As mentioned in the last article grown-ups who were parentified have a tendency to absorb the feelings of others as their own. They are ‘empathy crazy’.

Whlist empathy is a great virtue that is needed for the success of our relationships to some extent, there is a thin line between understanding the feelings of others by putting yourself in their shoes and taking responsibility for others’ feelings and lives. We all have an individual responsibility towards our lives. To voluntarily bequeath other adults’ individual responsibility for their own lives to ourselves is a sure way to sap and malnourish our essence. It is tantamount to giving and caring from a place of inner weakness and not from a place of inner strength.

Casualties of parentification who have not recuperated from same as adults sometimes idolise their parents. Such grown persons customarily have a special and somewhat blinded affinity for their consanguinity.   They mostly over glorify their parents and lack a balanced view of their consanguinity i.e.  a healthy appreciation of their parents’ strengths and weaknesses.

Parentified grown-ups are usually emotionally enmeshed to their parents and have very thin to no boundaries with the former.  These adults do not have a separate identity from their parents. Despite being adults of full legal capacity self-individuation and self-actualisation are scanty in their adulthood.

It is parentified adults who sometimes have their marriages ruined by their parents due to lack of proper boundaries. When the spouses of these grown-ups genuinely complain about gross wrong committed against them by the parentified adult’s mother/ father, such people usually deny or rush to defend their parents without getting to hear both sides of the story. Moreover, parents who parentify their grown up kids often bitterly contest with their kids’ partners for a place in their lives. At the very root of parentification is a pulsing desire to have emotional/companionship needs met by one’s child which is why parentified adult kids’ partners are often deemed as a threat by the parents of such victims.

In a marriage where both or one of the parents spousify their minor kids, it may

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build resentment in the other partner. For example, a partner who spousifies their child may spend all their free time with the child to the exclusion of their spouse. They may also buy birthday gifts for their parentified child in advance and neglect/forget to buy birthday and anniversary gifts for their partners.

In such instances the neglected partner may resent their child and abuse them emotionally or even physically. In abusing the child out of bitterness stemming from neglect from their partner, the child would obviously be more drawn to the parent who parentifies them thus deepening the cycle of spousification.

Given that the parentified child is often preferred over the other kids in the family, parentification may create sibling rivalry and insecurity in the non parentified kids. The children who are the least preferred in the family may feel jealous of the most preferred child. If that jealousy is not handled properly it may evolve to hatred and abuse of the parentified kid by his/her siblings.

The non – parentified kids in a family where parentification is rampant may also grow up feeling insecure. A feeling that something is probably wrong with them as there is a ‘worlds apart difference’ in the way their parent/parents treat them in comparison to their spousified sibling.

This very feeling may cause them to be overachievers in life as a desperate cry for approval from their parents and the world at large. Though success is a great thing, success birthed and sustained from insecurity and a deep need for approval (and not the knowledge that we are inherently enough, validated, approved and great and therefore deserve to reach our fullest potential) may end up destroying the very bearer of that success in various ways.  On the other hand, the insecure children in a family where there is parentification may grow up to be self-doubting and effacing, dependent adults with no zest for life, and thus live way below their potential.

The subsequent article will be an extension of this one.

*Gaone Monau is a practicing attorney and motivational speaker. For bookings  on gender based violence awareness seminars, motivational talks or consultations on relationships, confidence building, stress management and  self-discovery contact +26774542732 or gpmonau@gmail.com.  Her Facebook page is (Be Motivated with Gaone).



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