The impact of adolescent parentification on family relationship and civic engagement

Hsi Sheng Wei, An Ti Shih, Yi Fu Chen, Jun Sung Hong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Summary: This study examined the relationships between parentification, family relationship, political interest, and civic beliefs using a large sample of Taiwanese adolescents. Data were collected from 1648 junior and senior high school students in Taichung City, Taiwan. Parentification was hypothesized to positively affect family relationship, which in turn influences adolescents’ political interest and civic beliefs. A series of structural equation models were constructed and tested. Implications of the findings for practice and policy-making are discussed. Findings: Two dimensions of parentification, instrumental and emotional caregiving, were found to be positively associated with the parent–child relationship while perceived unfairness was negatively associated with the family relations. Family relationship was positively related to youth’s civic beliefs as well as their political interests. Potential gender, age (junior high/senior high), and family (living with/not with both parents) effects were examined through multi-group comparisons. The model was robust with minor differences between gender, age, and family type subgroups. Applications: Social workers should recognize the developmental benefits of parentification and utilize such experiences when working with adolescents. With cultural sensitivity, a healthy inter-dependence between youth and parents can be appreciated as a source of strength, which facilitates young people’s civic responsibility and concern for public affairs beyond family.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1413-1432
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Social Work
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2021

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Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2020.


  • Social work
  • adolescence
  • children and families
  • parenting
  • young people
  • youth work


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