Researchers have argued parentification and language brokering experienced in childhood are similar in nature and may have the same deleterious effects on mental health outcomes in adulthood, although there is a dearth of empirical research examining this contention. To address this gap in the literature, parentification was analyzed multidimensionally with subscales for parent-focused parentification, sibling-focused parentification, instrumental parentification, emotional parentification, and perceived unfairness in a nonclinical sample of adults (N = 1,796; Mage = 21.23, SD = 5.25). Overall, we found all parentification scores—with the exception of sibling-focused parentification—to be predictive of mental health outcomes (i.e., depressive, anxiety, and somatic symptoms as well as overall psychological distress). Language brokering showed similar results but to a lesser degree, suggesting parentification had a stronger association with mental health. We also found significant gender differences pointing toward higher levels of parentification and language brokering in male participants. Implications for research and practice are discussed.
Parentification and Language Brokering: An Exploratory Study of the Similarities and Differences in Their Relations to Continuous and Dichotomous Mental Health Outcomes
Brenda Arellano, Judy Mier-Chairez, Sara Tomek, Lisa M. Hooper; Parentification and Language Brokering: An Exploratory Study of the Similarities and Differences in Their Relations to Continuous and Dichotomous Mental Health Outcomes. Journal of Mental Health Counseling 1 October 2018; 40 (4): 353–373. doi: https://doi.org/10.17744/mehc.40.4.07
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