Is Natalie's protection of her mother a reversal of roles? Does it happen often nowadays? Any personal experiences?

Use this forum to discuss the April 2018 Book of the Month, "Ironbark Hill" by Jennie Linnane
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Re: Is Natalie's protection of her mother a reversal of roles? Does it happen often nowadays? Any personal experiences?

Post by Kdonegan91 » 15 May 2018, 17:53

I believe that the role reversal scenario is becoming more common. Even though, it should not be unless it's for health reasons. I have personally lived through this particular scenario. After my parents divorced, I was forced to raise my younger sister for many years. Although it was not an easy time in my life (young teen), it made me who I am today.
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Post by Nena_Morena » 19 May 2018, 01:37

Some of my friends have told me about their troubled childhoods that forced them to grow up too soon, but while I was reading the book I really thought of my husband. He experienced abuse since he was a little child and like Natalie, he had to take care of himself because his parents weren't there for him. He acts older than his age and I see how his troubles still affect him today. Unfortunately, I believe this experience is not uncommon nowadays.

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Post by Sefiros2211 » 23 May 2018, 12:57

Yes. This kind of relationship can be found in a family with an addicted family member. The parent is too high to take care of the children, so it's up to the child to be the grown-up, fixing meals and making sure the other -- mostly younger -- kids make it to school, do their homework; etc. Forcing kids to assume adult roles denies them a childhood where playing and fun is the highlight of their young lives. This can build resentment, which is bottled up, changing the child into a cynic. Wary of adults' help -- because the adults in their own lives have done so little -- they are biased when genuine help comes their way. It's a deadly and vicious cycle that is happening every day.

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Post by ValBookReviews » 26 May 2018, 06:46

Yes, Natalie's protection of her mother is role reversal. Yes, it does yet, happen often nowadays, as I experienced needed to take care of my alcoholic mother at the age of nine years old. Pleading for her to stop so that you would not be abused by my father and to keep her safe. That was no doubt, a massive daunting challenge for a young child to handle that I was not prepared for.
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Post by gkgurley » 28 May 2018, 14:19

This absolutely happens. I'm a Navy brat, and whenever my dad was deployed, something in me felt the need to step up. I took care of my sisters and protected my mom emotionally. She was present and provided for us, it's not like she was an absent or abusive mother, but there's something about children needing safety in the home, and if it doesn't come from a parent, they produce it themselves. It was my only way to feel stable.

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Post by The BookWorm Nagham » 30 May 2018, 02:58

I totally agree, Natalie was forced to be an adult, she skipped her childhood because felt like she needed to take care of her mother, thankfully I never experienced this, but I know people who did, and even if they're adults now and happy in their lives, they can't help but blame their parents for their stripped childhood.

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Post by Esmitty4293 » 30 May 2018, 08:21

I believe that this type of reversal of roles happens far more often that we may expect. Of course, there are different degrees and Natalie's situation was quite severe.
My brother is notably younger than my sister and I. Consequently, when my mother went through a divorce, he was the only child still at home. She often looked to him to be a protector despite his. I believe that this created a unique bond between the two of them while teaching him skills for the future. However, it is a substantial burden to put on young shoulders.

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Post by Brittany J » 30 May 2018, 11:59

A reversal of roles like this does happen often today. It is unfortunate for those children to have their childhood robbed of them. It is often due to drug abuse, violence, or illness. It affects children as they grow and can be a struggle in relationships. I've know people who have been in this situation and decided later they don't want to have a family of their own because they are already had to raise kids when they were just a kid.

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Post by Lizzie Robinson » 31 May 2018, 20:33

Unfortunately, I think it is relatively common. One of my closest friends is to this day essentially mothering her mother.

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Post by -brintontaylor » 02 Jun 2018, 13:29

I think there is so many factors that contribute towards a reversal of roles in situations such as these. One example is the splitting of parents, where the child feels its necessary to protect either one of their parents because they feel they may now be alone. This can form an even stronger bond in my opinion.

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Post by Carris72 » 04 Jun 2018, 02:03

Yes, it is an unfortunate situation which occurs even today. Know a friend who went through this.

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Post by Helen_Combe » 06 Jun 2018, 01:08

I think all family members will find themselves sticking up for a sibling being bullied within a family. It’s just not so usual to have to stick up for a parent.
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Post by Ada4nathan » 07 Jun 2018, 16:27

Her protection of her mother was a reversal of roles. She was the child and should have been protected by her mother. Children who grow up this way have a hard time maintaining good relationships, both with friends and immediate family members (when they get married). They tend to be either bossy or they care too much to their own detriment. No, I've not experienced this, but I have friends who'd had to take care of their parents because of ill health. While they were kids, they didn't behave like kids. It's so heart breaking.

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Post by Callistus Ibenye » 07 Jun 2018, 17:45

Yes, I think Natalie's protection of her mother is at best a reversal of roles, and I think it happens sometimes in the real world, but not very often.

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Post by kemp1kor » 07 Jun 2018, 18:58

I think this reversal of roles happens more often than it should, especially when it comes to abusive situations or when the parent(s) has an addiction.

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