Parentification Vulnerability, Reactivity, Resilience, and Thriving: A Mixed Methods Systematic Literature Review

Jacinda K. Dariotis, Frances R. Chen, Ye Rang Park, Montana K. Nowak, Katherine M. French, Anisa M. Codamon

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Parentification occurs when youth are forced to assume developmentally inappropriate parent- or adult-like roles and responsibilities. This review thoroughly examines current empirical research on parentification, its outcomes, and related mechanisms to outline patterns of findings and significant literature gaps. This review is timely in the large context of the COVID-19 pandemic, when pandemic-induced responsibilities and demands on youth, and the shifting family role may exacerbate parentification and its consequences. We used the 2020 updated Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Review and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) framework to identify 95 studies (13 qualitative, 81 quantitative, 1 mixed methods) meeting eligibility criteria. Representation from six continents highlights parentification as a global phenomenon. Using thematic analysis, we identified five themes from qualitative studies and five from quantitative studies. These were further integrated into four common themes: (1) some parentified youth experienced positive outcomes (e.g., positive coping), albeit constructs varied; (2) to mitigate additional trauma, youth employed various protective strategies; (3) common negative outcomes experienced by youth included internalizing behaviors, externalizing problems, and compromised physical health; and (4) youths’ characteristics (e.g., rejection sensitivity, attachment style), perceived benefits, and supports influenced parentification outcomes. Future methodological and substantive directions are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number6197
JournalInternational journal of environmental research and public health
Issue number13
StatePublished - Jul 2023


  • parentification
  • mixed methods
  • systematic review
  • coping
  • resilience
  • role reversal

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pollution
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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