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 raya753 »

Natalie's particular situation was heartbreaking. The role reversal for her was very negative. It put her in a horrible position. But I don't think all forms of role reversals are necessarily a negative thing. My sister and I grew up helping out my dad a lot, due to disability. We really had to step up when out mom left and that was difficult, but it benefited us in the future. My dad was blind and we helped with grocery shopping, paying bills, job applications, cleaning, cooking, laundry, reading and replying to mail, ect. We grew up quick, but it wasn't as big of a shock when we transitioned out of the household. I think Natalie's situation was very distinct. The abuse within the household and the lack of protection she received was a type of role reversal between parent and child that is not beneficial at all.
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Post by Cristal2408 »

I do not know how common it is now compared to before but it is definitely something present. In my family, I have a cousin who has always acted more like an adult than her mother, this cousin has even become the main financial support in her family. I think cases like this are caused by a lack of independence and personal growth on the person not taking the role of supporter, they can't take it psychologically.
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Post by Alex Hughes »

Yeah, I think Natalie protecting her mother who should have protected her was a reversal of roles. I have never experienced it though. But i think it really a hard thing to do.
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Post by meadhbh »

While I haven't exactly had to protect my mother, I definitely feel that I've offered her emotional support in a way that could be seen as a role-reversal of sorts. I think it very much depends on the maturity of the child, and how good of a relationship they have with their mother.
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Post by butterflyinaweb »

I take care of my mother whose health is diminishing so I think it may be possible. I noticed a 4 year old trying to take care of her mother who was acting irresponsibly recently. I guess it's in our nature.
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Post by Cate Mbevi »

I think wanting to protect ones mother is a natural instinct. In any sour relationship she appears to be the ill treated one. Personally I have had to answer for my mother not only to my father but also to the rest of the siblings even when she was wrong. Somehow I felt she should not be blamed for anything not even her obvious mistakes.
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Post by Samantha333 »

Something I love about the relationship between mother and daughters in this type of situation where the mother didn’t have a good history of protecting her daughter, is that the daughter typically goes the mile to protect her mother despite any past pains or trauma that seemingly could have been avoided had the mother done her part. It’s just really nice to see a young woman overcome that sense of fear and resentment and be the person she never had, to someone else!
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Post by bwill93 »

Absolutely, role reversal exists in this story and is much more common in society than we realize, at least in my opinion. I appreciate there being a spotlight on dysfunctional family situations since they have the potential to occur with any family at any time.
Growing up, my father was an alcoholic and the role reversal with him was extreme. I always took care of him and gave him attention every second I was with him. My entire existence was to serve his needs, and my happiness depended on his approval which was rare. It was a highly toxic environment, yet once I left his house and cut ties with him I have had the opportunity to heal emotionally and become exactly who I want to be.
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Post by Faithmwangi »

Yes,this is a reversal of roles but most times it is circumstantial. The bond of a child to her mother is simply too strong to allow them to suffer when they feel they can do something about it. Therefore they decide to take up the responsibility and play the role of mother,instead of the role of child.
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Post by Kemunto lucy »

It is a reversal of roles. I have witnessed a minor defending her mother from an abusive marriage. This should not be the case because kids miss most of their childhood.
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Post by frazier_frazier2017 »

Role reversal is very common, and like most of us we do grow up much faster than we should have, miss out on a lot of things most children experience, and it does seem to repeat its self in generation unfortunately in some form and to some degree maybe as each generation comes along it does seem to get better. We can only pray!
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Post by Mr Justin »

Natalie’s protection of her mother is not a reversal of roles; but it reveals the two different characters: The girl child’s and her mother’s.
However, either the child could protect her mother or the mother could protect her child.
Natalie’s strong character she demonstrated when she protected her mother is a signal that she will become a mother with a strong character expected of a woman. But unlike Natalie, her mother portrayed a weak character of a woman.
Yes, it does happen nowadays!
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Post by joshfee77 »

Natalie's protection of her mother was a reversal of roles, but I can say from personal experience that it does happen. My eldest daughter felt she had to enter into a somewhat protective role over her own mother when my ex-wife and I separated. Her mother entered into an unhealthy relationship with a narcissist, which was ultimately emotionally harmful, and my daughter felt it her responsibility to intervene. This was an extremely difficult situation to manage, and unfortunately quite traumatic for both my daughter and her mother (and also myself). Thankfully, the relationship with the narcissist ended some time ago and things are much better now.
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Post by haleygerstenberg »

I have a couple of friends (they are sisters) who come from an drug-related abuse type of environment. The older of the two effectively became a mom to her younger sister when she was 5 years old. There wasn't the aspect of protecting her mom that you're asking about, but she did become the only guardian her younger sister had.

I don't have much to say about it except that young children are capable of stepping up to extreme circumstances, but it isn't without cost and it can be severely traumatic to have to recognize that there is no one to care for you when you should still be a child, and it completely changes a person's outlook on life / can cause all kinds of trust issues down the road.
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Post by faceadventure »

Unfortunately this happens to children more often that it should. A child sees their parent in need and they want to help them but they are just kids and not ready for that kind of responsibility. This makes children grow up prematurely and it's not good for anybody.
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