According to Dr. Love, “Being a parent’s primary source of support is a heavy burden for young children as they are forced to suppress their own needs to satisfy the needs of the adults“. Because of this role reversal, they are rarely given adequate protection, guidance, or discipline, and they are exposed to experiences well beyond their years.
Emotional incest from either parent is devastating to the child’s ability to be able to set boundaries and take care of getting their own needs met when they become an adult. This type of abuse, when inflicted by the opposite sex parent, can have a devastating effect on the adult/child’s relationship with his/her own sexuality and gender, and their ability to have successful intimate relationships as an adult.
For practical reasons, elder children are generally chosen for the familial “parental” role – very often the first-born children who were put in the anomalous role. However, gender considerations mean that sometimes the eldest boy or eldest girl was selected, even if they are not the oldest child overall, for such reasons as the preference to match the sex of the missing parent.
In adolescence and adulthood, they are likely to be plagued by one or more of the following difficulties:
- Guilt about practicing self care especially – an unrealistic sense of obligation to that parent
- Difficulties related to sexual identity or gender
- Feelings of inadequacy
- Love/hate relationship with offending parent
- Difficulty in maintaining relationships due to abused individual’s idealization and devaluation of others and an inappropriate expectations placed on partners
- Compulsivity that can include sex, substances, alcohol, work, food
- Patterns of excessive triangulation (indirect communication) in work, family or romantic relationships
- Issues related to sex addiction/avoidance or love addiction/avoidance