The child in a parental role – confused family roles. World and Polish reports on parentification
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Instytut Nauk Pedagogicznych, Uniwersytet Opolski, ul. Oleska 48, 45-052 Opole, Polska
Submission date: 2018-09-01
Final revision date: 2018-11-28
Acceptance date: 2018-11-28
Publication date: 2018-12-22
Corresponding author
Jolanta Żarczyńska-Hyla   

Instytut Nauk Pedagogicznych, Uniwersytet Opolski, ul. Oleska 48, 45-052 Opole, Polska
Jolanta Piechnik-Borusowska   

Instytut Nauk Pedagogicznych, Uniwersytet Opolski, ul. Oleska 48, 45-052 Opole, Polska
Wychowanie w Rodzinie 2018;17(1):289-303
Aim: This review paper aims to present the phenomenon of parentification, its determinants and outcomes. Parentification is usually defined as a reversal of family roles, when a child assumes the role of a parent and the parent takes on the role of a child. Parentification occurs when a parent partially or entirely abdicates his, or her, parental tasks and duties. The parent’s abdication sets in motion the process of parentification, in which a child, usually the eldest in the family, feels obliged to take on the role of a parent in various spheres of family life. The care and duties rendered by the child can be instrumental, or emotional in character. The parentified child may suffer various costs and his, or her, correct development may be endangered. Although the results of many international, and the few Polish, studies indicate that parentification is a very complex and multi-faceted phenomenon, they often point out both the immediate and long term consequences of the reversal of roles in the family. Methods: This paper reviews information from various studies – quantitative as well as qualitative. Results: The authors present the conclusions drawn from their own studies conducted over several years. They indicate that parentification is a complex phenomenon and that the negative transformation which the Polish family currently undergoes plays a significant role in generating this phenomenon. Conclusion: Despite increased interest in parentification in the recent years, the literature on the subject, particularly in Poland, is fairly limited, which hinders the finding and dissemination of any specific solutions for assisting families in which role reversal takes place.
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