Adultification (or parentification) happens as a result of a parent expecting or needing a child to become a ‘grown up’, exposing them to an adult world prematurely. This robs that child of an innocent, carefree childhood. The child feels pressured to take on responsibilities or worries that the parent has burdened them with by their selfish oversharing and they’re denied the space to develop a separate and autonomous life. There’s instrumental parentification when a child takes on physical tasks like caring for an unwell family member or working to provide more money, things that would usually be done by the parent. Emotional parentification is especially common in parental alienation. The parent’s negative projection (onto the target parent) is enforced and indoctrinated on the child. Even though it’s good for a child to learn responsibilities, care for others, and altruism – the child may end up working in mental health – but in the extreme, adultification involves maladaptive narcissistic parenting.
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