KidSide Newsletter June 2023
The Parentified Child in Family Court
Written by Judge Angélica D. Zayas
What is parentification and why does it matter?
Parentification occurs when parents look to their children for emotional and/or practical support instead of providing it and the roles of the parent and child become reversed. Where the child becomes the emotional or physical caregiver to the parent (or to one or more siblings) the child is forced to assume adult responsibilities before the child is ready to do so. When these adult responsibilities are placed onto a child, the child is overwhelmed and experiences stressors beyond the child’s coping abilities. Parentification disrupts the ordinary bonds between the parent and the child and disrupts the natural process of child development. Parentification creates a state of chronic stress, leaving the child without necessary support and protection. In most cases, these disruptions have far-reaching negative effects on the child’s mental and physical health.
Parentified children may have a hard time building trust and may have difficulties with anger management and emotional regulation. Parentified children may also experience other common trauma responses, such as depression, anxiety, eating disorders, and substance abuse disorder. As they get older, parentified children may also experience difficulties with relationships because they may not have learned how to set proper boundaries with others or how to get theirs needs met in healthy ways.
In ideal circumstances, children are never pushed beyond their capacities as growing and maturing people to care for the adults around them. There are circumstances, however, that may force children to take more of the lead in caretaking in family systems. When this happens, children are made to take on more “parentified” roles in their families, which the scientific literature often also calls “role-reversal” in parent-child relationships. In these situations, children do not have the safety and security of being the ones who are cared for, and instead, they are put in the position of taking on much more adult roles and responsibilities. The effects of such parentification can be traumatic and have a long-lasting negative impact on development. One of the reasons for the negative impact on children is that within a parent-child relationship, a child can grow and thrive under the knowledge and feeling that their parent is there to provide them with safety, security, emotional support, and the necessities for living, such as food, shelter, clothing, and access to resources such as schools and health care. When an adult caregiver defaults on some or all aspects of parenting, a child loses a feeling of safety and security and must put their own needs aside to either take care of or take over the role of the parent – or both. While adults can be expected to have the ability to cope with their own challenges such that they can put their own needs aside to take care of their children, no child is expected to be able to manage those relationship complexities, let alone make adult decisions in the world. A child is then thrust into an adult world with huge emotional and sometimes even practical responsibilities, without the skills or support to do so. Being turned into an adult as a child is a damaging process that can lead to depression, low self-esteem, and relationship problems throughout the lifespan.
Join A KidSide Committee
KidSide is a volunteer organization and without our volunteers we would not be able to fund the court ordered services families and children in-need have to have to reunite their families. Getting involved with KidSide is as easy as joining one of our fabulous committees.
- KidSide Partners Committee
- Give Miami Day Campaign Committee
- Marketing & Communications Committee
- Havana Nights Nostalgia Committee
- Judicial Reception Committee
We are proud and thankful to have Marcum LLP continue to support KidSIde as a Silver Partner. We also want to show our appreciation to Adelmis Bohigas-Naderpour P.A. who renewed with KidSide as a Bronze Partner. Thank you for your continued support!
The testimonial below is from an anonymous patient who received therapy sessions paid for by KidSide:
Words cannot express how grateful I am for the therapy services I had.
The therapy process was liberating to know that I could trust my therapist wholeheartedly and that my confidentiality was respected. Throughout our sessions, my therapist skillfully guided me through the intricacies of my emotions, thoughts.
What truly impressed me was the therapist’s commitment to tailor the therapy to my unique needs and goals. They skillfully utilized various therapeutic modalities and techniques, ensuring that each session was personalized and effective.
As the therapy progressed, I witnessed remarkable transformations within myself. I gained a deep understanding of my patterns and beliefs that were holding me back, allowing me to challenge and reframe them. I developed resilience and coping mechanisms that empowered me to navigate life’s ups and downs with grace and composure. Most importantly, I discovered a renewed sense of self-worth and inner peace that had eluded me for years.
If you are considering therapy, I wholeheartedly encourage you to take that leap of faith and KidSide was truly remarkable. The rewards are immeasurable. Find a therapist who resonates with you, who listens without judgment, and who can guide you towards the light within yourself. Embrace the process with an open mind and heart, and I am confident that, like me, you will discover the transformative power of therapy and embark on a journey of healing, growth, and happiness.
Your Donations At Work
Expanding Funded Services
KidSide has reached an agreement with the 11th Judicial Circuit to fund Social Investigations for families in need referred to Family Court Services. We are excited to expand the court ordered services we are able to fund and we look forward to increasing the impact KidSide can have in our community.
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Thank You KidSide Partner
Looking to make a splash in the community to start the new year? Join KidSide as a partner and get recognized in the KidSide newsletter and on social media, plus other fantastic benefits. Thank you to all of our existing partners for their continued support of KidSide.
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