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Posted by: parentified ( )
Date: November 05, 2019 06:12AM

Growing up the oldest of six, i was severely parentified. Apparently my family's experience is a textbook case and i would like to hear from anyone who ended up like me...mentally ill, poor and absolutely hated by my adult brothers and sisters i loved so much and cared for the best i could.

Effects of mental illness already apparent as a young girl, I was rendered unable to work to support myself. Aged 58, I have lived with my son over a decade. It breaks my heart that my son takes care of me because my parents didn't. He is intelligent, hardworking and kind but we are poor...poor to the extent it is commonplace for him to go hungry, etc. (without telling me.)

Having long understood my childhood was spent as a means to an end, i first read the description 'Parentification / Parentified' this past June 7th. I read on to find, no matter how well or terrible they were treated, "This situation is a setup for highly disturbed sibling relationships later on in their lives, after all of the siblings have grown into adulthood...the siblings are angry at the neglectful parents, but they protect their parents from those negative feelings by displacing them onto the older, mother-substitute sibling. Displacement is a defense mechanism...." My brothers having left the family, i've spent the past 5 years absolutely baffled as to why my sisters were so mean. Having read the above, i was forced to admit they'd treated me terribly for over 20 years. Their cruelty didn't match the siblings i thought so highly of so i chose to forget things they'd said and done.

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/matter-personality/201601/neglectful-parents-and-eldest-siblings

I told them never to contact me again. I'm relieved and haven't missed "them" at all. I grieve the siblings who loved me before they became adults and am angry my life boiled down to a seemingly convoluted equation i never would have guessed existed.

Thank you for allowing me to post. My apologies for the length...i felt the need to stress severity as it's discouraging when friends (who are healthy and able to work...who had to watch their little brother one summer) compare their experience to mine.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 11/05/2019 03:40PM by parentified.

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Posted by: Me Lucky Charms ( )
Date: November 05, 2019 06:27AM

What do you mean by "parentified"?!

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Posted by: parentified ( )
Date: November 05, 2019 07:51PM

Hello, Me Lucky Charms.

My apologies as these responses went to my junk folder and i am just seeing them. Also having a hard time understanding how to respond directly to you.

Parentified refers to any child under the age of 18 who finds him or herself expected to regularly perform tasks that are normally the responsibility of the parent(s). This becomes their life, putting an end to their childhood. BRB

The article i mentioned explains it this way:
Parental neglect of a large family of children may stem from any of a number of factors: parental depression, parental alcohol or substance abuse, mothers who had been bullied by demanding and violent husbands, husband who had made sure that their wives were perpetually pregnant, parents who were overly-enmeshed with their own families-of-origin, families that are subject to severe religious strictures against the use of birth control and/or against mothers working outside the home, and a host of others.

I've yet to find an article or study concerning parentification caused due to a family's membership in a demanding religion or cult. My dad had planned to be the breadwinner and mom planned to be a homemaker. With the arrival of their 'happy accident' third child, this set up was going to be difficult. Then one day the TV broke (sometimes took months for TV parts to arrive in our little Oregon desert town) so dad started reading the book of mormon. He told mom, "We are either going to do this all the way or not at all." All the way won the toss and the next thing that came out of his mouth was, "We're going to have to have more kids."

It was as though this normally very responsible man's common sense had flown out the window. How did they expect to afford tithing, let alone, additional children without a drastic lifestyle change? Apparently it was a no brainer for them as mom began a day care center in our home and i replaced her as the homemaker! Although she didn't trust an 8 year old to clean the floors and dishes, she trusted me to care for my younger siblings as well as the daycare kids (up to 24) while she cleaned the floors and dishes and ran errands.

Nothing good can come from a demanding cult...period. And my parents were especially not child oriented.

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Posted by: nonmo_1 ( )
Date: November 06, 2019 07:52PM

"Parentified refers to any child under the age of 18 who finds him or herself expected to regularly perform tasks that are normally the responsibility of the parent(s). This becomes their life, putting an end to their childhood."

So you helped to raise your younger siblings, lost out on your childhood, and they don't like you now? Interesting. I never heard of that term, "Parentified"

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Posted by: macaRomney ( )
Date: November 05, 2019 06:50AM

That's an interesting article. I don't have experience in a large family who neglects but can give the viewpoint of a small family which may help you in seeing the challenges from the opposite perspective.

The family I grew up in was Small and female driven. My father was in the backseat when it came to guiding me in any decisions though he was a good financial protector. And would lock the doors at night. But my mother would often result to crying fits if I didn't do piano lessons or whatever. I was what you would say helicoptered constantly. I was coerced by crying fits to do the mission thing and then college, but the great failure of my mormon upbringing from mormon bishoprics, parents, mormon teachers and counselors at public school, was that they failed to help me find anything I was actually good at or a wise way to look at the world and how to take care of myself. Hence I spent many years not making a living and not knowing how. And stuck getting indoctrinated in useless esoteric knowledge in the university. And then a career in something I wasn't well fitted for. But I was a good mormon!

Mormon thinking and helicopter parenting left me unprepared in knowing how to take care of myself. I finally figured out what works for me. I don't have good manners anymore, and consider myself a redneck. My advice is to look for employment with people you like, where you think you actually fit in. Employment brings a great deal of satisfaction in life.

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Posted by: parentified ( )
Date: November 05, 2019 08:23PM

Hello macaRomney,

Thank you for sharing. "Helicoptered" seems the perfect description.

I believe it's easy for mormons to get caught up in "doing whatever is necessary to remain together in the hereafter" they neglect their primary responsibility to nurture their children.

I'm glad you figured out what works for you...manners be damned!

I was damaged beyond anything near a decent recovery (I left out A LOT) and function at a level so low most activities are out of the question. I've taken advantage of medication and good therapists, but (we're being real here) i can still only manage to brush my teeth maybe three or four times a month. Showers? I had wondered about that then noticed i was averaging one every three months looking back on a surgery 3 months earlier, a breast exam 3 months before that and a trip to the gyno another 3 months before that. I shut down and my meds actually stop working when i try to do more than i'm able.

My best to you.

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Posted by: cl2 ( )
Date: November 05, 2019 04:03PM

I was the 3rd. I had an older brother and an older sister, then a younger sister and 2 young brothers.

It just so happened that I'm the one who took care of the younger siblings and not my older sister. My youngest brother feels I was more his mother and he called me mom when he was little. Our brother just older than him was disabled. He also drank paint thinner at age 18 months and got hit by a pickup at age 5. He had a stroke at birth and the doctor never told my parents it happened.

So my parents spent the rest of their lives taking care of this disabled brother (and then another became disabled at age 42). I took care of my little brother. He is my greatest support and he is the person I'm the closest to next to my son.

My son lives at home. He does work about 32 hours a week. He works on his computer and could easily get a coding job, but I assume I'm the one who never taught him how to get a job. My daughter excels at every job she has (as does he when he works) and gets promotions quickly. So I must have done something right. I was a single mom and although I hovered, I didn't have time or energy to watch them. They both drank alcohol at young ages and my daughter who is now TBM smoked pot at age 14.

My little family would probably be quite a study in psychology!!!! Given their dad is gay. Our lives have been insane. My "husband" lives her, too, in the house I kept after he left me. BUT he pays all the bills now so I don't take half his pension and 401K. He is getting the better deal and I don't care.

I took care of my niece and nephews. I don't get along all that well with my sisters, especially my older sister, which has made it difficult for my niece and 2 nephews for us to carry on a relationship. Right now one of them is living with me.

My dad was the BOSS. My mom took care of us. She had a huge load given her parents were deaf and she took care of them, too.

I guess you could say that I'm parentified as I not only took care of my siblings, I took care of my niece and nephews a lot of the time. Every one of them. My youngest brother doesn't even had a relationship with my older sister, who is only 17 months older than I am. You have to think, "Huh?" How did it end up I'm so close to him and she has no relationship with him???

Oh well. I adore them all. They don't always like me, but most of the time that's okay.

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Posted by: parentified ( )
Date: November 05, 2019 08:51PM

Hello, cl2.

Thank you for sharing. So many tragedies befalling one family, and one family member, is hard to wrap one's mind around.

I'm glad to know you're close to your youngest brother. My youngest brother, 14 years difference, believed i was his real mother. He is the only sibling with nothing against me but pulled away over time unable to bare the dysfunctional family crap. He enjoys being a good dad and husband and that's where he spends his time...which is wonderful and although i miss him i'm so proud of him.

My best to you.

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Posted by: cl2 ( )
Date: November 06, 2019 05:50PM

were not estranged, but didn't have much to do with each other. We both had huge drama going on in our lives. When he got married and had his son, I offered to babysit him on Saturdays when his wife worked and he wanted to have a day off from his job, and so I forced myself back into his life and he has been there ever since. I don't know what I'd do without him.

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Posted by: apanon.. ( )
Date: November 05, 2019 06:40PM

That was a tough life. Sorry you had to endure that. Def parents start us on a course for better or worse.

On thing struck me by your post thought. You said that good son is poor and often goes hungry, which probably means you go hungry too (assuming). You are a very articulate individual, with skills. Maybe you could get a part-time job, unskilled or semi-skilled? I don't know much about your mental illness, but with most, the symptoms wax and wane over time. You prob could not sustain a 40 hour work week, but maybe 10 or 20 hours. In the US, folks who are disabled are encouraged to work part time if they can. It's good for them and bring in a bit of cash for stuff like food even. I hate to see such a good person as yourself or son go hungry. Maybe he could use a little help from you.

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Posted by: parentified ( )
Date: November 05, 2019 10:08PM

Hello apanon..

You are very kind.

May i respond tomorrow? Selfishly, i thought i'd be doing more reading and less responding and i find myself unable to think straight. I don't think i explained clearly enough my inability to function...i didn't get here from being parentified alone. Between ages 3 1/2 and 5 1/2 i was vaginally raped by the old man next door. Every time my mom put me in the bath I screamed "it burns" and her response was always, "the water isn't hot enough to burn you", refusing to ever look 'down here' as i pointed to the burn. I went without food, clothes and the clothes i had i made...and made all my moms. My son would never let me go hungry but i thank you for making that thoughtful assumption. I was trying to make the point that it's hard not to be able to work because of things that happened in your past and it's also hard to go without because of those same things and still be facing it all pushing 60. The worst thing is that it crept into my innocent son's life. Thank you again for responding so humanely. I think i need to delete my post as i'm unable to keep up. Was just really hoping to hear from someone else affected as badly as i. Take care and i hope others treat you as kind as you have me.

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Posted by: scmd1 ( )
Date: November 06, 2019 12:08AM

Parentified,

I'm one of the lucky ones in terms of parents. My parents were TBM but mostly quite humane. My mom didn't deal especially well with tiny kids, but she coped by using a chunk of her inheritance to hire nannies so that she wasn't so overwhelmed and could get away when she needed time for herself. i can say after the fact that it was a much better use of whatever money the nannies were paid than handing it over to the six of us in the form of inheritance would have been.

While I was never "parentified" (I'm the youngest of six) I've seen many instances of it, including with my eldest sister's oldest daughter. Mt sister had eight kids. She partially raised the first two, but then she pretty much handed everything over to her daughter. The poor kid had no life. My parents and her in-laws were constantly on my sister and her husband about treating the girl as an indentured servant but to no avail.

When my niece turned eighteen, she moved to California. She attended JC for a year and surprised us all by earning impressive grades. She was barely passing most of her courses in high school. It's amazing what a teen or young adult can do when she's not raising six of her younger siblings. She will graduate from dental school this spring.

I don't think my niece got through the experience totally unscathed, though. She says she still has nightmares about her childhood and youth.She says she will never have a child. She has visited multiple doctors to discuss tubal ligation, but none would perform the procedure on her at twenty-five. Maybe she'll change her mind, but I doubt it. her younger siblings feel as though she deserted them when she moved on to have a life of her own.

Please don't feel as though you have to respond if you don't feel up to it.



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 11/06/2019 03:52PM by scmd1.

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Posted by: parentified ( )
Date: November 07, 2019 08:39PM

Hello and thank you to everyone who has shared with me, especially those who have said kind things. <3 I do receive ssi, thank you, to those who expressed concern <3 and just learned the people at ssi were four years behind on my case so I (and my son) will be receiving more money each month from now on so please don't worry. :)

In posting here, i was trying to find another parentified child who may have been damaged as much as myself. Made mentally ill to the point they were for the rest of their lives unemployable, etc. I thought i'd read here the response from one such person and then I'd be okay with what happened to me.

Instead, i read experiences from others that broke my heart and i wish them the very best. I also read from very kind people who were concerned (something i haven't experienced in a long time. Thank you. <3) I slept the next two days and have been typing and deleting here now for nearly 6 hours. I'm not as articulate as one might have thought. ;)

I won't delete my post, in hopes others will discover the word Parentification, but will have to unfollow as the past few days have been my darkest in a while. I'm so sorry i can't stay and help anyone. All my love, Marci.

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Posted by: parentified ( )
Date: November 07, 2019 09:36PM

Re: Any Other Severely Parentified Daughters?

Hello and thank you to everyone who has shared with me, especially those who have said kind things. <3 I do receive ssi, thank you, to those who expressed concern <3 and just learned the people at ssi were four years behind on my case so I (and my son) will be receiving more money each month from now on so please don't worry. :)

In posting here, i was trying to find another parentified child who may have been damaged as much as myself. Made mentally ill to the point they were for the rest of their lives unemployable, etc. I thought i'd read here the response from one such person and then I'd be okay with what happened to me.

Instead, i read experiences from others that broke my heart and i wish them the very best. I also read from very kind people who were concerned (something i haven't experienced in a long time. Thank you. <3) I slept the next two days and have been typing and deleting here now for nearly 6 hours. I'm not as articulate as one might have thought. ;)

I won't delete my post, in hopes others will discover the word Parentification, but will have to unfollow as the past few days have been my darkest in a while. I'm so sorry i can't stay and help anyone. All my love, Marci.

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Posted by: Heartless ( )
Date: November 06, 2019 11:29AM

Why limit this to daughters and large families?

I was the oldest of three boys. But I am 6 and 15 years older than the other two.

I treated my youngest brother more as a son than a brother. I bathed and changed him, fed him, babysat several nights a week. Twice a month my parents went out on weekends and I babysat even if it meant missing prom, school games or camp outs.

when I left home my youngest brother wasn't even in school. I still treat him more as a son than a brother.

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Posted by: scmd1 ( )
Date: November 06, 2019 03:55PM

Obviously it happened to boys as well, as you can attest, but girls seem to be disproportionately represented in this group. Odds are that if you had a sister older, the same age, or one, two, or even three years younger than you, much of the childcare duty would have been shifted to her.

My oldest brother is fourteen years older than I. He didn't didn't have a lot of responsibility for his younger siblings when he was growing up, but it's not as though the two of us grew up together. We didn't develop much of a brother relationship until I reached adulthood. My wife and I took care of his kids for a few months when his wife was ill. That situation seemed to be something of an equalizer between us. Before, he was in many ways more like an uncle.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 11/06/2019 04:01PM by scmd1.

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Posted by: JadeDuck ( )
Date: November 07, 2019 01:56AM

Me! I was/am parentified. I didn't know this word; thanks for introducing it!

There are 15 kids split between two homes in my family, but I mostly felt it at my Mormon home (which has 11 kids; I'm the second oldest). My older brother could never handle it, and neither could my not-much-younger sister, so it always fell to me.

I really didn't notice until I was 12 and put in charge of my whole family's laundry for a summer (8 people at the time). I was left alone with my younger siblings regularly at that point too. By the time I was in high school, I was picking them up from daycare, cooking dinner, helping them with homework, and putting them to bed. I even helped out at some of their class parties when I had free periods in school. Heck, I was the one in charge of convincing my older brother to get his Eagle Scout award! (He didn't. He's allergic to paperwork, hence why I also did the paperwork for his college applications.)

I have also always been the family mediator, ever since I was little. My parents are divorced and disagree on a lot, and we tend to have quite a bit of family drama. I've always been the go-between, peace keeper, and emotional support, even when I shouldn't have to be (like when my childhood dog died, or when there are problems in my parents' marriages), all on top of my own struggles with mental illness.

All of my parents worked, and they worked hard. I give them that. The kids that are still with them (again, most of them are; they're younger) have a much higher quality of life than we were able to. Both my mother and stepmother are able to stay at home now, which relieves a lot of the pressure I was under. The kids still do chores, and the older ones occasionally have to babysit the younger ones for a few hours, but it's not like it was. I'm glad it's different for them, but it sucks that I had to deal with what I did. I'd do it again if it meant they didn't have to though.

I don't resent my parents, but I do know that I never had a childhood because of it. When I went to college, I didn't know what to do with myself since I didn't have anyone to take care of. I ended up getting some flowers to fill that void, but they died, and I had a depressive episode that lasted for weeks. I've been through a lot of therapy to try to get to the point of being a sister instead of a mother, but it's hard. Every time something goes wrong, I relapse. I've come really close to dropping out of school several times to go back home and help, but my fiance has talked me down.

Sorry if this isn't well written out; it's late, and my brain is fried! I understand what you've gone through, though. I'm sorry you had to go through it. It's rough, and so is the recovery. I can't offer much advice, but I do applaud you in your journey, and I hope that knowing you aren't alone will help, even if it's just a little.

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Posted by: Infrequent Observer ( )
Date: November 07, 2019 11:00AM

I have a daughter-in-law who was "parentified" in a different fashion. Her counselor labeled it and had her read that book. She was raised by 2 parents who were completely inept at any sort of emotional maturity. The most damaging part wasn't the need to care for her younger siblings, but rather the need to be the "parent" to her own parents as she was dragged into every argument, separation, divorce, re-marriage, and making up as the marriage counselor. In either situation, being forced to be the mature and responsible one without meaningful examples of maturity and responsibility when one is not ready causes a rift between the "pretended" maturity and reality. Your abuse would only cause a greater level of disconnect and arrested development in vital areas of life. I'm so sorry you had to face that.

I echo other's concerns about your financial situation. Have you gone through the process of disability designation to be able to have some income from that? I knew a former neighbor who had a similarly tragic situation who was able to be officially designated and therefore able to collect disability. I wish I knew where to point you for that.

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Posted by: scmd1 ( )
Date: November 07, 2019 09:06PM

From what I saw in med school and internship, this sort of thing is relatively common among the children of substance abusers. Relationships tend to be tough for them in that they're accustomed to taking charge and not being especially receptive to the input of others because in their past, no one else stepped up to take charge, and any other input typically sucked.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 11/08/2019 02:02AM by scmd1.

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Posted by: parentified ( )
Date: November 07, 2019 09:38PM

Re: Any Other Severely Parentified Daughters?

(sorry, can't figure out how to reply to everyone...)

Hello and thank you to everyone who has shared with me, especially those who have said kind things. <3 I do receive ssi, thank you, to those who expressed concern <3 and just learned the people at ssi were four years behind on my case so I (and my son) will be receiving more money each month from now on so please don't worry. :)

In posting here, i was trying to find another parentified child who may have been damaged as much as myself. Made mentally ill to the point they were for the rest of their lives unemployable, etc. I thought i'd read here the response from one such person and then I'd be okay with what happened to me.

Instead, i read experiences from others that broke my heart and i wish them the very best. I also read from very kind people who were concerned (something i haven't experienced in a long time. Thank you. <3) I slept the next two days and have been typing and deleting here now for nearly 6 hours. I'm not as articulate as one might have thought. ;)

I won't delete my post, in hopes others will discover the word Parentification, but will have to unfollow as the past few days have been my darkest in a while. I'm so sorry i can't stay and help anyone. All my love, Marci.

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Posted by: summer ( )
Date: November 07, 2019 11:00PM

I'm terribly sorry that your parents put you in that situation and that it damaged your relationships with your siblings. I think it's reprehensible when parents use an older sibling (usually a daughter) as a pseudo-parent. Why do they have so many children if they don't want to parent them?

I think you did a good thing in cutting off the toxic relationships. And I'm glad that you have a good relationship with your son. I wish you peace.

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Posted by: idleswell ( )
Date: November 08, 2019 10:02AM

My grandmother was the second of six children. She became homemaker at the age of 11 to her younger siblings when her father and older brother were both killed in industrial accidents. When her mother had to earn a living cleaning at the local schools, she was in charge of the house and younger children.

Early responsibility gave my grandmother a strong will and dominant personality. It didn't matter if it were our aunts or uncles or people in the community, Nina expected to be "large and in charge." She had the mayor of our town on speed dial and wasn't afraid to call him at home. Later in life she was named Senior Citizen of the Year for the Province of British Columbia.

She had to overcome circumstances because of necessity. Fortunately it wasn't because of an artificial LDS imposed burden foisted upon a family by a demanding church.

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