Parentification, Emotional Security and Attachment in Adolescents of Parents with Alcoholism


Parentification, Emotional Security and Attachment in Adolescents of Parents with Alcoholism


Parentification is a process of children taking on the roles and responsibilities to cater to the well-being of the family (Jurkovic, 1997). The child internalizes this role to the extent that the functions that are carried out become sole identity of the individual. When responsibilities are taken away from the child, leaving the child with a vacuum, when the parent resumes the position or caretaking. To prevent this, children tends to lock themselves in a power struggle battle with the parent. The child invariably struggles to make sense of the situation, having had to grow up too soon only to discover that he/she is caught in the midst of situation where the only role familiar is that of parentification. The present study looks at the occurrence of parentification in children of parents with alcoholism. It observes the emotional security in the family between the parent-child dyad and the attachment patterns in the family system. Following the qualitative research method, data was collected using in-depth interview. Seven participants and three professional helpers were interviewed. The raw data was analysed using Thematic Analysis. The shift in authority and power from the parent to the child and the struggle to retain this power due to lack of trust is seen. It also discovers the emotional security that the child holds for the family in ways of protecting and safeguarding the family members from being harmed emotionally and physically. It revels the remoteness of the children towards the family system, looking for guidance outside the family system and seeking support from friends and relative. The implications of this study is for family therapists, rehabilitation counsellors, school guidance counsellors and parents. Understanding this phenomena can also help rehabilitation counsellors explain to the child and help make positive meaning of the events occurring in her family with the alcoholic parent. Awareness of the effects of parentification on the childs emotional, cognitive and social development. Keywords: Parentification, role-reversal, emotional parentification, instrumental parentification, protection and attachment.


A. Rao Swetha


Department of Psychology




A. Rao Swetha, “Parentification, Emotional Security and Attachment in Adolescents of Parents with Alcoholism,” CHRIST (Deemed To Be University) Institutional Repository, accessed December 8, 2023,

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