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Parentification and Diverse Family Systems

Parentification, whereby children take on responsibilities and fulfill family roles typically assigned to adults, is a ubiquitous phenomenon that occurs in families to varying degrees with both positive and negative consequences. A multiplicity of variables may impact the emergence and maintenance of parentification. Specifically, the empirical literature has long reported on individual-level factors that may foretell parentification. With regard to system-level factors, no other variable informs the development of parentification more than the family structure. The historical, accumulated, and nascent literature reveals that diverse family systems engender and maintain the parentification process, roles, relationships, and its related outcomes. For example, from the early writings put forward by Salvador Minuchin and colleagues, the criticality of the family structure was proffered as an active ingredient in the ...

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