ORIGINAL PAPER
Parentification in late adolescence and selected features of the family system
 
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Institute of Psychology, University of Gdansk, Gdansk, Poland
Submission date: 2015-08-10
Final revision date: 2015-10-21
Acceptance date: 2015-10-22
Online publication date: 2015-12-30
Publication date: 2015-12-30
 
Health Psychology Report 2016;4(2):116–127
 
KEYWORDS
TOPICS
ABSTRACT
Background
Parentification is a pattern of family interactions when either a child or an adolescent accepts roles and obligations fulfilled by adults. Being burdened with duties and taking care of parents makes separation, as well as fulfilment of development tasks and acceptance of roles suitable for a child, difficult. Simultaneously parentification might constitute a factor which forms resilience and functional coping manners. The aim of the study was to broaden the knowledge about parentification and its connections with the features of the family system.

Participants and procedure
The participants were 89 people divided into triads including the youngster in his/her late teens and his/her parents. The youngsters filled in Hooper’s Parentification Inventory and Olson’s Family Evaluation Scale (FES), in Margasiński’s adaptation, and assessed the bond with family members using a drawing scale. The parents also filled in the FES, and additionally they evaluated the level of conflict intensity and tension in a partner relationship by means of a modified version of the Cantril Ladder.

Results
Perception of the benefits of parentification differentiated the adolescents from well-balanced and ill-balanced families. Additionally, the stronger the bond the adolescents shared with their parents and the higher they assessed their satisfaction with family life and communications in the family, the more positive was their view of the effects of parentification. The predictor for the perception of the benefits of parentification by adolescents turned out to be the family’s cohesion.

Conclusions
The assessment of the functioning of the family system is essential. When, according to adolescents, the family system is functioning effectively, they can use the family resources and positively reformulate even negative experiences concerned with parentification.
 
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