Have you ever felt like you were stepping into the role of a parent for your siblings or even your own parents at a young age? Have you been the go-to for emotional support in your family from a young age? Do you often feel labeled as "the responsible one" in your social circles? How often have you heard "you're so mature for your age? If you answered yes to one or more of these questions, then you may have been parentified.
So What is Parentification anyway?
Parentification is like when you're asked to take on big responsibilities, kind of like what parents do, for your family. It's like growing up faster than you should. This can mean being there emotionally, doing things like cooking and cleaning, or even looking after your younger siblings like a mini parent.
This can happen for a few reasons:
1. Money troubles: If your family is struggling with money, you might have to start working early and help out with taking care of things.
2. When a parent is really sick or has a long-term health problem, you might need to step up and be a support system.
3. If your parents aren't together anymore, you might end up being the one who gives a lot of love and support to everyone.
It's a lot to handle, and it's important to recognize when it's happening so you can take care of yourself too.
The parentified eldest daughter
Are you the eldest daughter in your family? Then this section is especially for you. Being the oldest daughter/sister brings its own set of challenges. People might see you as the "wise one," the "dependable one," or the "go-to person." These labels may seem nice, but they can also feel like a lot to live up to. When you're expected to take on adult responsibilities, it can feel like you're living in a pressure cooker and be super overwhelming. This means you might end up putting others first (aka. people pleasing) and ignoring your own needs (aka. superwoman complex). It's important to recognize this and make sure you're taking care of yourself too.
How to Start Healing:
Use these tips below to jumpstart your healing journey:
1. Nurture Your Inner Child: You've spent a long time taking care of others. Now, it's time to take care of the little you. Write a letter to your inner child, filling it with love and the kind words they needed to hear.
2. Set Boundaries: If setting boundaries feels tough, remember, it's not selfish to prioritize your needs. Take it step by step. Start small and gradually build up.
3. Unleash Your Creativity: Grab some paints, a piece of paper or canvas, and let loose! It doesn't have to be a masterpiece. The goal is to let your inner child have some messy, unfiltered fun! This is your space to be playful and free.
Remember, this is all about taking care of yourself and reconnecting with the child within you. It's a journey, so be patient and kind to yourself along the way.
Repeat after me, I AM ENOUGH.
For women of color, dealing with parentification is layered and has it's own unique challenges due to cultural expectations that have often pushed us to neglect our own needs for generations. However, now is the time to break the cycle. You're here, seeking change, and that makes you a cycle breaker! I am proud of you! It is perfectly okay to set boundaries, to prioritize your own well-being, and to confidently say "no". You are deserving of care, and remember, you are more than capable of navigating through this. YOU GOT THIS!
be Morr is a culturally affirming therapeutic community in New York City where Women of Color receive Mental Health services by WOC individually and in community. To learn more about our services, please visit www.bemorrcounseling.com