The impact of parentification on children's psychological adjustment
Fitzgerald, Monica Marie
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This study investigated the impact of parentification on childrenÕs psychologicaladjustment and emotional development in a community sample of 52 mother-child dyads. Theprimary focus was on the impact of emotional parentification (EP), which involves parentsseeking emotional support, caregiving, and advice from their children. Mothers and childrencompleted questionnaires and were interviewed. Findings indicated that EP predicted greaterchild internalizing problems (i.e., depression, anxiety) as well as both deficits and strengths inemotional understanding skills (i.e., difficulties identifying own emotions, greater awareness ofsadness in self and mothers), and deficits in emotion regulation skills (i.e., expressive reluctance,emotion dysregulation). Although EP predicted childrenÕs deficits in emotional understandingand emotion regulation, these variables failed to explain the relation found between EP and childinternalizing problems. Findings are discussed from a developmental psychopathology approach,emphasizing the importance of parental socialization of emotion in childrenÕs psychologicaldevelopment.