The Old Role Switcheroo


I've noticed from the relationship I have with parents, it seems we took on the parental role way too soon in our lives.  I read recently in the Chicago Tribune, that it's becoming more and more normal for children to take on the parental roles too soon in their lives.  This to me seems a bit unfair.  I remember having a very secluded childhood, especially in my teens.  I had my escape by going to band camp, however, when I got home, I had to take care of my younger sister.  It was like my mom was not aware of her misbehaving or let her do what she wanted and my dad didn't play a role in our lives after I was 14.  He actually just reappeared maybe 3 years ago.  I was 16 years old, keeping out eye out on my sister, making sure the neighbor didn't leave a hickey on her neck large enough for my mom to see. This, in turn, caused me to feel like I have always been responsible for my sister and left me longing for a relationship with my mom.  When I left for college, I was set on the idea that I would finally do something for myself.  But I left with guilt because things just seemed to fall apart for my sister after I went away for college.  She ended up dropping out of high school and moving in with her boyfriend at the time.  I think she was only 16.  I had always wondered what would had happened if I never left.

After many years of therapy and sessions with the Comedian, my very own therapist, I know I'm not responsible for my younger sister.  I was too young to feel that responsible for her.  This feeling of responsibility affected my relationships with others because I felt like I had to save everyone.  Hence why I probably dated a lot of guys who needed saving.  Sigh... if I could count the ways.  I remember picking up an ex boyfriend at a bus stop just to hang out because he couldn't make it all the way.  It wasn't until I met the Comedian that finally I had someone to take care of me and vice versa.

The article in the Chicago Tribune suggests just as I described above, growing up too fast leaves scars on children's lives as they get older.  I laugh a little because I see the descriptions of some of these kids:

"A straight-A student comes home and starts supper, knowing she'll spend the evening listening to her dad talk about his troubled personal life."

"A young beauty-pageant contestant beams at her mom, who is proud to call her daughter her best friend."

I know people who have had these kinds of lives.  It's just interesting how our parents drag us back into our roles of the one that grew up too fast.  I still have the tendency to want to do everything for my family members.  I know it might be selfish but for my own well being and sanity, it is good to step back every now and then to let them figure it out.