Leury Peña, Ph.D., is a 2024 graduate of the PhD Program in Marriage and Family Therapy at Antioch University, New England

Dissertation Committee:

  • Kevin Lyness, PhD, LMFT, Chairperson
  • Denzel Jones, PhD, LMFT, Committee Member
  • Bryson Greaves, PhD, LMFT, Committee Member

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Parentification, or parent-child role reversal, occurs when children and adolescents take on parental responsibilities within the family (Boszormenyi-Nagy & Spark,1973). This can include caring for younger siblings, attending to their parents' emotional needs, and assisting with tasks such as translation. Parentification disrupts family dynamics as parents transfer significant responsibilities to the child (Martino & Coburn, 2022). Extensive research consistently demonstrates the negative impact of parentification on children, leading to depression, suicidal feelings, shame, guilt, worry, and social isolation (Jurkovic, 1997). It can also contribute to the development of conduct disorders. Unfortunately, these difficulties often go unnoticed. However, when it comes to language brokering, which can be viewed as a similar experience to parentification as indicated by research, it can yield some positive results, such as developing new skills, improving self-esteem, and contributing to family survival (Kam et al., 2017; Martino & Coburn, 2022). Limited research exists on factors that alleviate the impact of parentification in Latine and Hispanic households, and despite its potential harm, parentification is often rationalized by families for various reasons. Familismo, a cultural value emphasizing loyalty and community within the family (Ayon et al., 2010) may play a significant role in the experiences of Latine parentified individuals. Familismo promotes unity, support, and loyalty within the family, resulting in enhanced self-esteem, a strong sense of belonging, and deep respect for the cultural community and family members (Fuligni et al., 1999; Ayon et al., 2010, Montero & Ceballo, 2021; Walker et al., 2022). This quantitative study demonstrates that familismo acts as a moderator in the relationship between parentification and depression. Specifically, this study reveals that higher levels of familismo weaken the link between parentification and anxiety/depression. This dissertation is available in open access at AURA ( and OhioLINK ETD Center (


ORCID: 0009-0006-4525-5025