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Child-Maltreatment-Research-L (CMRL) List Serve

Database of Past CMRL Messages

Welcome to the database of past Child-Maltreatment-Research-L (CMRL) list serve messages. The table below contains all past CMRL messages (text only, no attachments) from Nov. 20, 1996 - December 22, 2017 and is updated quarterly.

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Message ID: 8788
Date: 2011-01-16

Author:Poha Kane

Subject:Re: two questions about common labels

If by the first term you mean also "parentified," yes, it has been around a long time. I've not heard it misused though. Not as I understand the term, that is to say that a child is seen as taking on some parental functions with either or both siblings and parents. I include in "parentified," though have not heard it from others, workers using a child to communicate with non English speaking adult family members on family issues. I think we can be as guilty of misusing a child in this way as a dysfunctional family might do for other reasons. Where I most encountered (I am currently retired and have been for 7 years) misuse by over generalization of "attachment disordered," is to apply it inaccurately to a behavior cluster that may well be diagnosed as something quite different - PTSD, for instance. The issues of a failure of a child to attach normally are far too broad in scope to umbrella with such terms - and it's not specific enough to really be useful in data gathering. I hope it's not appearing anywhere as data. Either term you offer, but especially the latter, can effect data and skew supposed case outcome results, such as claiming a failure to resolve issues when in fact they weren't the presenting problem - which may or may not have resolved. As one might presume, the terms, and others less exact as well, are often used sans formal diagnosis. I would hope our data comes from collecting diagnoses by the proper agents/vendors and not simply case notes alone. Or at least that researchers are careful to point out the fluid nature of such terms, and their inexactness. Most do so I believe. Kane On 1/15/11, D F MCMAHON wrote: > > Two labels that are endemic in child welfare cases are "parentification" and > "attachment disorder". These have been around for quite awhile. The source > is usually a CPS investigator, a caseworker, or a therapist, sometimes a > foster parent, once in awhile an adoptive or step-parent. My question is not > really specific, but wondering about your thoughts as to use and/or misuse > of these labels. > Thanks, > Sheri McMahon

If by the first term you mean also "parentified," yes, it has been around a long time. I've not heard it misused though. Not as I understand the term, that is to say that a child is seen as taking on some parental functions with either or both siblings and parents. I include in "parentified," though have not heard it from others, workers using a child to communicate with non English speaking adult family members on family issues. I think we can be as guilty of misusing a child in this way as a dysfunctional family might do for other reasons. Where I most encountered (I am currently retired and have been for 7 years) misuse by over generalization of "attachment disordered," is to apply it inaccurately to a behavior cluster that may well be diagnosed as something quite different - PTSD, for instance. The issues of a failure of a child to attach normally are far too broad in scope to umbrella with such terms - and it's not specific enough to really be useful in data gathering. I hope it's not appearing anywhere as data. Either term you offer, but especially the latter, can effect data and skew supposed case outcome results, such as claiming a failure to resolve issues when in fact they weren't the presenting problem - which may or may not have resolved. As one might presume, the terms, and others less exact as well, are often used sans formal diagnosis. I would hope our data comes from collecting diagnoses by the proper agents/vendors and not simply case notes alone. Or at least that researchers are careful to point out the fluid nature of such terms, and their inexactness. Most do so I believe. Kane On 1/15/11, D F MCMAHON wrote: > > Two labels that are endemic in child welfare cases are "parentification" and > "attachment disorder". These have been around for quite awhile. The source > is usually a CPS investigator, a caseworker, or a therapist, sometimes a > foster parent, once in awhile an adoptive or step-parent. My question is not > really specific, but wondering about your thoughts as to use and/or misuse > of these labels. > Thanks, > Sheri McMahon