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Violations of hierarchy in the family system. What parents should not do with their children

Hierarchy is one of the parameters of the family system, designed to establish order, to determine the affiliation, authority, power in the family and the degree of influence of one family member on others.

One of the provisions of the hierarchy is that in the family the parents are responsible for the children and have all the power in the nuclear family. In my article I want to consider some variants of deviations from this norm and their consequences.

Triangulation is an emotional process between two people that tends to involve a third in a relationship. In a broken family where internal boundaries are blurred, parents can sometimes make children their emotional partners. This is an inverted hierarchy, in which the status of the child in the family is equal to the parent.

Example: “Daughter-girlfriend”. Mom communicates with her daughter on an equal footing, as partners, as friends, leading to psychological discomfort for the child, to the confusion of roles, to weaken the strength of the child. Normally, the strength of the child should be sent to society, used to communicate with peers, friends and siblings (brothers, sisters). In the case when the mother begins to share with her daughter what her bad relationship with her father, how they conflict, shares his suspicions about his father’s infidelity, in the soul of the child begins to occur confusion.

When the mother becomes daughter’s friend, in his daughter’s eyes this reduces its credibility and, as a consequence, the daughter involuntarily emotionally attached to the father. The child does not want to hear such things, it is hard for him to listen to negative things about one of the parents. As a result, the daughter tries to distance herself from her mother. The same thing happens in the case of an excessively trusting, friendly relationship between one of the parents and his son.

What children should not know about you
Touching upon the topic of excessive frankness in dealing with children, you should immediately identify what normally should not know children. Children should not know about personal intimate details and secrets of parents. First of all it concerns sexual relations. Metaphorically it sounds like this: “the door of the marital bedroom for children should be tightly locked.” Yes, the kids know the door is there, and that was it.

Just children should not know about premarital Affairs, relationships, love parents. Telling about their premarital relationship to children, the mother takes the power of the father and sets the children against themselves. The same goes for the father, children should not know about his premarital relationship. If there was a marriage and the children were asked about it, it makes sense to report only the fact of marriage and it should not be deeply recorded, so as not to cause anxiety in children and their doubts about the stability of the Union of parents.

Now back to the hierarchy violations in the family system.

The term “parenting” comes from the English word “parents”. This literally means that children functionally become parents to their own parents. This variant of inverted hierarchy often occurs in the case of alcoholism, or drug addiction of one or both parents.

Example: If the father is chemically dependent and there is a son in the family, he often replaces the father’s co-dependent mother. Father and mother in a family often childish, so the child is forced to be the only adult and take responsibility for the family, its existence and homeostasis. He makes decisions, he’s responsible for the boundaries of the family, making them tough. Hard boundaries in this case look something like this: no one should know that the father is dependent, so no one can be called into the house, no one can share what is happening in the family. Such a child, as a rule, has no friends, he leads a closed “adult” life. This is an inverted hierarchy, in which the status of the child in the family above the parent

Another example of parenting: in case of early death of the mother, the daughter functionally replaces her and, as a result, ceases to be a daughter. She performs many domestic women’s Affairs from an early age, caring for her father and supporting him. And not fully acquainted with the role of the daughter, growing up, she often becomes a functional mother to her husband.

The hierarchy in the sibling subsystem
Violation of hierarchy in sibling (child) subsystem. It occurs as a consequence of the identification, when the older child takes responsibility for the parent subsystem, he also takes responsibility for the children’s subsystem (younger children). Or the other option: when only in child subsystem there is no hierarchy, there is no leading and slave, senior and Junior children on equal. This happens when one parent rigidly, authoritatively affects children, uniting in a coalition with the children’s subsystem and thereby weakening the other parent.

Example: a Father who spends a lot of time with his sons of different ages (sports, chess, fishing), not differentiating them into senior-Junior, and the mother is outside their classes. In this case, the mother, feeling weakened, is irritated by the coalition father-sons and looking for someone to create a coalition, for example, with their parents or a therapist.

It should be noted that along with the dysfunctional coalitions uniting the parent and the child, there are also healthy options – these are coalitions “horizontally”, they include intra-family coalitions between spouses and between siblings.

Dear Parents, when you are “friends” with your children, when you complain to them about your adult life, when you show your inability to cope with your losses and defeats; when you patch the child’s soul with the flaws of your loneliness, when you force the child to cover your painful addictions; when you are led by your selfishness, blame the ingratitude of your child and demand a bribe for “sleepless nights” in the form of attention or sympathy – know that by this you are depriving your child not only of a parent, whom you breaking the hierarchy, not being able to. You deprive the child of his Life, because as long as the child serves your adult needs and requirements, he does not live his child (or adult) life. Know about it.

Take care of yourself and your loved ones!

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