Date of Defense


Date of Graduation



Social Work

First Advisor

Donna Weinreich

Second Advisor

Kelly Allen


The phenomena of Parentification. Parentification is best outlined by Boszormenyi-Nagy & Spark (1973), as a family process in which children or adolescents assume adult responsibilities and/or parental roles that may be developmentally inappropriate. There has been much research done on the topic of Parentification and the effects of the psychopathology on the individual. (e.g. substance abuse, depression, self-esteem, recidivism, anxiety, etc.) Although some research has been done on birth order and/or family structure and how it correlates to parentification, no published research was found on parentification and its repercussions or ramifications for the youngest sibling(s) (i.e. those adolescent’s that were not parentified, but their sibling was). The goal of this research was to gain some insight into the youngest siblings’ awareness of their eldest sibling fulfilling the role of parent. My constructs are Parentification and Family Structure. The research question is, “What is the level of awareness that the youngest child has of their eldest sibling in the role of parent?” This qualitative research was exploratory in nature, using an ethnographic design. The expected outcome was that the youngest sibling would not be aware of the extent to which her eldest sibling was parentified. Results from the study include: that the younger sibling, (June) had total awareness of her older sister (May) in the role of parent. Through the process of analysis there were three factors that arose multiple times which can be concluded as to why June had total awareness of her sister in the role of parent, they are: severity of abuse, age and outside influences.

Access Setting

Honors Thesis-Open Access

Included in

Social Work Commons