Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Social Work


School of Social Work

First Reader/Committee Chair

Heidmann-Whitt, Gretchen


This study provides more insight into childhood parentification's contributing factors, focusing on familial characteristics. The research sought to identify common components present in the family structures of parentified children. The researcher conducted a qualitative study utilizing purposive and snowball methods to recruit ten participants who were social work professionals and/or students working with parentified youth (one of whom also identified as a parentified child themself). The researcher used open-ended questions to determine common factors that parentified clients and their families demonstrate while working with social workers. This study identified four contributing factors to the parentification in youth. The study’s findings suggest that the socioeconomic status of a child's family, the presence of varying types of abuse in the home (including abuse of substances and various of child abuse), a lack of parental support for children, and the presence of familial trauma all contribute to the development of parental behaviors and responsibilities in youth. Limitations of the study include the small sample size, non-probability sampling method, and low level of generalizability of findings. Implications for social work practice include the development of more informed service offerings for adolescent clients that incorporate dual services for their parents as well.

Included in

Social Work Commons