This is a discussion recorded on BlogTalkRadio in 2013 that discusses a largely ignored form of child abuse: emotional incest. “Parentification” and emotional incest is a common theme in many dysfunctional homes. It often begins when a mother, who is supposed to be the caretaker of her child, reverses the roles and makes the child responsible for her emotional needs. It is a subtle and often overlooked form of child abuse.
A women divorces after many years of marriage. Realizing she is now without another adult in the home, she turns to her 12 year old son and says, “You’re all I have now.”
In another scenario, a father prepares to go on a business trip. Just before hopping a cab to the airport, he looks at his 7-year old boy and says, “You’re the man of the house while I am away. Take care of your mother.”
In still another home, a 15-year old boy’s mother spends a lot of time telling him she is unhappy with his father; that she is always lonely and left to care for everything on her own. She is so thankful for her son, her “secret confidant.” He feels important does what he can to make her feel better. He also learns to hate his father.
Dr. Tara J. Palmatier, PsyD helps individuals work through their relationship and codependency issues via telephone or Skype. She specializes in helping men and women trying to break free of an abusive relationship, cope with the stress of an abusive relationship or heal from an abusive relationship. Coaching individuals through high-conflict divorce and custody cases is also an area of expertise. She combines practical advice, emotional support and goal-oriented outcomes. Please visit the Schedule a Session page for more information.
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