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15-05-2020 | Original Paper Open Access

We are in this Together: Retrospective Parentification, Sibling Relationships, and Self-Esteem

Journal of Child and Family Studies
Judyta Borchet, Aleksandra Lewandowska-Walter, Piotr Połomski, Aleksandra Peplińska, Lisa M. Hooper
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Parentification occurs when children provide caregiving for family members that typically exceeds their capacity and developmental stage. Parentification roles and responsibilities are often linked with deleterious outcomes, including robbing children of age-appropriate opportunities, activities, and support. However, in some circumstances, such as caring for a sibling vs. caring for a parent, parentification may engender feelings of self-efficacy, competence, and other positive outcomes. The primary objective of the current study was to explore the possible benefits of parentification. Using an understudied, international population, the current study tested the benefits of parentification in the context of the sibling relationship. Two research questions guided the study: to what extent are perceived benefits of parentification positively associated with self-esteem among a sample of Polish late adolescents? And to what extent does the quality of the sibling relationship mediate the association between perceived benefits of parentification and self-esteem? Results from the current sample showed the quality of sibling relationships partially mediated the relation between parentification and self-esteem. The findings underline the importance of assessing the quality of sibling relationships when an individual or family presenting for clinical services related to past and current family discord and dysfunction. Future research might consider other factors in the sibling relationship, such as personality, that could relate to positive outcomes from parentification.

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