And Substitute Mate
Parental Inversion is not an easy sin to hate. The
difficulty is that it has become for many the noblest
definition of life; Scripture readily justifies the
sacrifice and service it involves. But God asks us to lay
down our lives for others for His sake, rather than out
of the impure motives of our wounded hearts.
The terms Parental Inversion and Substitute Mate describe
the identity taken on by a child when a parent is unable
or unwilling to fulfill his/her role. The parentally
inverted child will carry the weight of care and
responsibility which should rest on the father or mother,
and this wounding will drive him/her through childhood
into adulthood, where it will reap destruction in the
individual and Ms/her relationships with others.
The role of substitute mate is a more serious type of
parental inversion. Both identities must be put to death
on the cross and new perceptions built into the nature.
For children are not responsible to save up (make
provision) for their parents, but parents for their
children. II Corinthians 12:14
Parental Inversion identifies those children who have
taken on the role of a parent due to one or both parents
being absent or ineffective as a result of death,
divorce, sin of immaturity. The child tries to take
responsibility, to fill the gap, or usurp the parental
Caution: Terms such as Parental Inversion are helpful for
identification, but can be harmful if used as a label
when ministering. Describe behaviors rather than apply
names to clients, i.e., You have taken on a structure of
Parental inversion, rather than saying "You are
does Scripture say?
The Bible tells us that parents are to take full
responsibility for their children.
II Corinthians 12:14
Parents must provide appropriate boundaries and
discipline "He (the deacon) must
manage his own family well and see that his children obey
him with proper respect"
are to supply the needs of the family. "If anyone
does not provide for his relatives, and especially for
his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is
worse than an unbeliever. "I Timothy 5:8
Parents are to call up the special gifts of the child,
rather than trying to force a child into what the parent
wants he/she to be. "Train a child in the way he
should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.
Parents are to model godly living. "A father tells
his sons about Thy faithfulness." Isaiah 38:19
God established an order to parenting; when it isn't
operating, the result may be parental inversion or
substitute mate. The child enters into fear, saying,
"who will take care of things?" The child will
enter into striving, which is an impossible job for a
The child becomes proud of his/her adult role.
This can be built into the child by the parent with
statements like; "I can always count on you to
listen." "You're the man of the house
now." "I don't know what I would do if you
weren't here!" The child feels like things are up to
him/her! He/she loses his/her childhood.
Adults who have taken on the structure of "Parental
Inversion" see themselves as:
o Strong people who help weak people
o Caretakers, and protectors
o Inability to rest but extremely tired
o Need to make everything work
"Things will get done better and quicker if I do it
myself." They tend to steal the initiative and gifts
of others. They tend to "Ace out" spouse.
(Instead of allowing spouse to be in on the decision
making process, the PT tends to decide what is best.)
Difficulty trusting others: mistakes and imperfections
need to step in.
o Difficulty trusting God: They see God as weak and
needing help. They have an inability to say, "I
can't do this."
o Sense of pride, "noble martyrs"
o Unreasonable fear: "IF I stop doing, my family's
lives, my life, the world, will fall apart, and it will
be my fault."
o Trouble handling confusion or disorder
o Denial: They have difficulty acknowledging when they
are trying too hard or that they are pushy. They have
trouble allowing, spouse to function.
Side note: They get angry with spouse for not doing what
they should, but give no latitude for them to grow into
that position. There is no tolerance for stutter steps or
mistakes. The Fl wants to angrily take back the
responsibility, and at the same time belittle their
for his/her ineptness.
o Inability to feel. When troubles require attention,
they turn off emotion and get logical; full of advice,
but little "heart."
o Inability to be corporate and intimate with spouse and
children. Although roots are with parents, fruits surface
in relation to primary people in his/her life.
for Parental Inversion
o Recognition: Help the client seek out and discern the
truth regarding behavior and motives. Encourage client to
ask spouse, friends, etc., to confront when he/she
and be accountable to them.
o Prayer: Lead the person to ask the Lord to forgive
he/she for taking God's job. For taking a role that
he/she should never have had.
o Confess the judgements against the parents for stealing
his/her childhood, and putting Mm/her in a position to
take on a responsibility that he/she should not have, and
for judging God for being to weak to handle those
situations in his/her life.
Repent for making these judgements against God and
parents. Repent for taking the role that was not
o Receive forgiveness: This is a structure, habit and
pattern that must be taken to the cross. Sharon and I
have the person pray saying " Lord I have taken upon
myself this structure of Parental Inversion, I repent for
taking your job, and I pick up the Word of God like a
sledge and I shatter the structure of parental inversion
and put the pieces to death on the cross. No I give you
back Your job Lord. In Jesus' Name.
o Support: Encourage new behaviors such as calling
parents (if possible) to say, "I love you". Ask
them to be aware of trying to control spouse, parents,
and co-workers. If they become aware of this behavior,
tell them to own it to disown it! "I see this habit.
pattern, and structure and I am helpless to stop it Lord,
so I put it to death on the cross and I ask you to give
me a glorious opposite. In my weakness is Your
strength." Tell them not to condemn him/her self
over it, simply own it to disown it, and allow God to
This is a more serious form of Parental Inversion. This
condition is created when a parent relies inappropriately
on a child of the opposite sex; for emotional comfort, or
as a confidant. If the spouse is still in the home it
undermines this relationship. It gives a child
information that he/she should not have to carry, i.e.,
"You know, your father is not capable of supporting
In the worst case scenario, for physical satisfaction.
o Sleeping with the child
o Excessive holding and touching
of substitute mate:
o All symptoms of "Parental Inversion"
o Seeking refreshment out side the home. This creates
vulnerability to adultery,
o Sexual dysfunction can be caused by usurping the
parental role, or dishonoring the other parent. Oedipus
complexes, and sexual difficulties in marriage due to
inappropriate feelings of guilt and shame. There is also
a tendency to have intense but bidden hate and anger
toward the parent of the opposite sex.
o SM is often a consequence of single parenting.
Single parents must be careful not to put this weight on
their children. The church should fill the gap for these
families, and the parent should ask for the help, setting
pride aside. Healing for the condition of substitute
The same process as Parental inversion with the
understanding that there must be the recognition that
there may be an unrealistic willingness to take over
built on a base of fear, and giving in easily to parental
coercion. The origin is lack of understanding, and lack
Confession for the sin of taking your parents place, and
God's job, and for incest (if this was part of the sin)
Forgiveness for parent must be practiced daily until it
is fully accomplished in the heart. Repentance and change
See the prayer for Parental Inversion. When the client
forgives his/her parent the driving force behind the
behavior will be greatly diminished. It then becomes a
matter of taking the habits, patterns and structures and
putting them to death on the cross and asking God to give
him/her a glorious opposite!
Because many symptoms of parental inversion resemble
those of performance orientation, it is important to make
some distinctions. Performance oriented people believe
they must earn their right to exist. Their concern is
self-centered; their actions are designed to give them a
sense of worth in the world.
Parentally Inverted individuals are moved by quite
another concern: that of making things better in the
family, and even the world. In this sense they are truly
other-centered, taking undue responsibility for the
well-being of those around them.
This is why, without understanding their own motives,
parentally inverted people can hardly bear to hear that
their actions might hurt instead of help, smother instead
of give life. We must not accuse them of selfishness, for
that would be unjust; instead, we must gently minister
truth to these wounded hearts who try so hard to fix the
world around them,
Recommended reading for this lesson Transformation of the
Inner Man: chapter 17
prayer for parental inversion...
Father, I thank You for caring enough for me to pursue
me, to help me see that in my family the parental roles
came to be reversed.
I see that I stepped in to fill the gap and, regardless
of how necessary or how noble that mayhave seemed,
I recognize I was wrong. In usurping my ___________ s
role, I denied my own childhood. You did not design my
child's shoulders to carry such a heavy weight.
Lord, I forgive my parents for ____________ (what they
did or did not do).
I confess that I have judged them as being __________ (be
I ask You to forgive me for those judgements and the
bitterness they built in my head.
I also confess that I judged You, Lord, as being a weak
God, one who needed my help. I
thought I had to do it for You. Forgive me for wounding
You in that way.
I have avoided intimacy and corporateness. Father,
forgive me for the way I have cut myself off from
emotion. I know I did it as a child so that I could
function, but now it is a defense mechanism in my life
and I have hurt many people with my inability to feel.
Forgive me for trying to take over for You and so control
my spouse, my world.
I resign, Lord; I am not in charge.
Father, it frightens me to ask You to take charge of me
and those I love and work with. But
I am tired. Bring my fear and my pride to death. I want
to trust in You, to rest in You. I ask
You to speak peace into my inner being and calm my
even as You calmed the sea.
prayer for substitute mate...
Lord, I ask that You help me to forgive my ________ for
pulling me into the role of spouse. I did not, could not
say "no." I have had such mixed feelings! pride
that I should be chosen; anger that the other parent did
not fill his/her
role and protect me; and confusion because I was in a
role I couldn't understand or fulfill.
Father, I choose to forgive myself f or acquiescing to
the subtle coercion. I forgive my parents _________ (be
specific about what they both did and did not do). And I
confess and ask forgiveness for the unexplainable anger.
Now I know it was toward mother and father and You,
Lord. Forgive me.
It hurts to see how this has affected my own marriage, my
spouse, Lord. I see the damage it has caused and want it
to stop. I invite You to bring it to death. Bring healing
and restore to me, to us, the years the locusts have
eaten. Put my relationships aright, Lord, including
my relationship with Father God.
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Last Updated Saturday, February 17, 2001. 19:36:11