Big Families and Small Ones: What About the Roles?

Over the last four weeks we have examined the four roles children assume when they are raised in a home with an emotionally absent parent.  Psychology seems to have a predilection for models of four; in this case the hero, rebel, lost child and mascot.  In healthy families, children’s behavior flows across all four roles. But in these families, children will adopt one of the roles and live by its parametes more than any other.  It’s as if...

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The Lost Child: Finding The Way Back from Emptiness

A family where the parents are emotionally absent (whatever the reasons) leaves the children to fend for themselves emotionally.  In learning to cope in a difficult situation with a child’s maturity and knowledge, the siblings often adopt one of four roles to cope with the emotional emptiness of the home. The Lost Child believes that there is no point in attracting attention to themselves – after all no one is aware they’re around. ...

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Rebels and Scapegoats: How do They Heal?

The second role in this discussion is the rebel, discussed in some detail here.  But there is another point of view about the role of this troubled child and that is that they play the scapegoat for the family. From this perspective, this child takes on the family’s problems and acts them out, to ensure that the family secret is held tightly within the family.  Obviously this is not a situation of a parent working too much, but it might...

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The Problem Child – It’s Not All Bad

In every family with an emotionally absent parent, the children learn and adopt one of four roles to deal with the stress and tension in the family.  These roles are the hero, rebel or scapegoat, mascot and lost child. The previous two posts talked about the Hero – the child who learned to handle the stress in their home by shutting off any knowledge of their wants and needs and becoming a ‘human doing’ – a person who judges...

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Why Being The Family Hero Hurts

Monday’s post The Family Hero – It’s Not All Good generated many comments and even a couple of email questions.  Although Thursday is usually a positive day here, I thought I’d change things up a bit and add a bit more information about Family Heroes. A quick recap:  Children who grow up in a home with an emotionally absent parent often adopt specific roles to cope with the tension and stress.  Every one of us uses all these...

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