Parentification and adult psychosocial life distress
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This retrospective correlational study examined the relationship between levels of parentification throughout childhood and adolescence, and subsequent levels of Adult Psychosocial Distress (APD) among a sample of 233 adult participants. The independent variable of parentification was defined as an instrumental (e.g., performing house hold chores) and/or expressive (e.g., serving in the role of confidant) role in which a child of a family sacrifices his/her needs for attention, guidance and comfort in order to care for the needs of others. Levels of parentification were measured by the Filial Responsibility Scale-Adult (FRS-A) which assesses for instrumental and emotional caregiving as well as levels of unfairness. Destructive parentification was determined by scores falling above the mean in each of the three areas (i.e., instrumental, expressive and unfairness) as well as in the overall score. The dependent variable of APD was measured by the Life Distress Inventory (LDI) which assesses subjective distress across four spheres of: social functioning, life satisfaction, finances and employment, and intimate relationships.;In support of the major hypothesis of this study, individuals who were destructively parentified during childhood and adolescence reported experiencing higher levels of APD. This study also revealed that individuals who were destructively parentified during childhood and adolescence: exhibited higher levels of parentified behavior towards their nuclear family of origin as adults; and experienced greater distress in intimate relationships. Additionally, this study identified birth order as a possible risk factor for becoming destructively instrumentally parentified. Finally, this study underscored the primacy of the ethical dimension of sense of unfairness as a strong predictor of APD. The demographic characteristics of education, source of income and whether the participant was a first generation US resident failed to be related to parentification during childhood and adolescence. The findings of this study have implications for primary, secondary and tertiary levels of prevention.