Sign You Were a Parentified Daughter, And How it Can Show Up in Your Marriage

Parentification happens when a child takes on the role of caretaker in place of the parent.

They may be responsible for the care of themselves, their siblings and/or a parent.

Instead of being loved, nurtured and cared for, the child must sacrifice their own needs to meet the needs of others. This often happens without the child even realizing it, as it just becomes the everyday norm.

As an adult, the following symptoms can emerge:

  • You spend a great deal of your time caring for others

  • Low self-esteem

  • Background sense of shame

  • Always in the role of emotional caretaker

  • Seldom get your own needs met

  • Are always alert about acting in ways that please others

  • Conform to other peoples’ wishes and desires

  • Feel unreasonably responsible for other peoples’ feelings, care and welfare

  • You are self-deprecating

  • You are quick to maintain harmony and sooth other peoples’ feelings

  • Don’t feel you have value unless you are giving to others

Does this sound like you?

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If so, here are some common ways that these symptoms can spill over into your marriage:

  • Always apologizing

  • Find it hard to ask your spouse for help or a favor- you try to just do it yourself

  • Forgo altercation or confrontation for the sake of keeping harmony

  • Low body esteem- not wanting your spouse to see you naked

  • Picking out your flaws- driving your spouse crazy with self-criticism

  • When there is an altercation, you often feel it was your fault and fixate on what you could have done differently

  • Forgetful that your spouse is a fault-prone human as well

  • Not feeling secure in your marriage, but like it is based on your performance

  • Don’t feel you have value unless you are giving to others

Why do we turn out this way?

You would almost be tempted to think that a child with a lot of responsibility would grow up to be mature and highly competent (and we are in many ways). But it comes at a great price. Because we did not have adequate nurturing and guidance, there are many important social and emotional milestones that were never reached.

Furthermore, we get so used to “playing” adult, that we grow up with a hidden sense of shame. Like the little girl hiding inside of us just might be discovered. (For more on the inner-child, check out this article: How Your Broken Family-of-Origin is Affecting Your Marriage, And How to Begin Healing)

How this can make us feel toward our spouse

As I began to uncover the traces of this hidden baggage I had been unknowingly carrying around through my adult life, my first feelings toward my husband were anger and suspicion. Had he been taking advantage of my caregiving, people-pleasing nature all of these years? Was I being duped?

I thought, “If I am really like this and he is not, then surely the scale has been tipped in his favor this whole time.”

The enemy is ALWAYS after our thought-process toward our husband, isn’t he?

My husband is not a perfect man, but he is my partner in life and the father of my four children. I know his intentions toward me are not malicious or fowl, despite what I might feel sometimes. Furthermore, I can get so fixated on my own perceptions that I forget that I have already given my life fully over to a heavenly father who loves and promises to look out for me. My well-being is in HIS hands and I trust him.

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I’m sorry.

If you were a parentified daughter, I just want to say I’m so sorry. I’m sorry that you weren’t given a full and beautiful childhood with two parents who cared deeply for your needs, as parents are supposed to.

I’m sure that every part of your childhood was not bad- but there were definitely some important areas in which you were neglected and hurt. Again, I’m so sorry this happened to you.

If you are looking for a good starting point for opening up and dealing with some issues from your childhood, I just released a free 7-day email course you can check out below.

I hope you will find this helpful in your healing journey!

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Healing Your ♥ When Your Family of Origin was Broken by Divorce

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  • Identify deeply-rooted issues from your broken past

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