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58 comments

I was wondering whether I was getting paranoid but it does have an incestuous nature, doesn't it?

Covert incest. When a parent uses a child to fulfil an adult emotional support role that should be filled by another adult; partner, friend, family or therapist.

[–] ProxyMusic 41 points Edited

But in this case, the incest is overt, not covert. The woman is saying out loud on social media that her 8 year-old daughter is her deceased husband and that the mother relies on the little girl for the sort of love, care, understanding, connection, support and practical assistance that adults customarily get - or hope to get from other adults who are partners, spouses or romantic love interests - or who are in the other types of roles you mention, or are hired helpers like home health aides, personal assistants and domestic servants.

Emotional incest isn't necessarily covert incest. In fact, the opposite is frequently the case. Emotional incest is often very blatant and public. Many abusers do it out in the open not just where others can - put so others can see. People who engage in emotional incest frequently flaunt these types of inappropriate relationships because they want others to witness and know what they are doing.

[–] SecondSkin 13 points Edited

The term is used to describe emotional incest that doesn’t include sexual abuse. It wasn’t meant whether it’s seen on social media or not. It’s not some technically accurate medical term, just the term that gets used to describe emotional incest among survivors and those who support them.

*there are plenty of mothers around the world who will rely on their children for care, that would be preferable from a hca or adult family. Young carers exist in developed and developing countries, and always have. There are plenty mothers who will have no choice but to rely on their child to be a young carer, but who do so in a way that doesn’t place the child in the role an adult should fill. Where the mother isn’t sharing adult worries or still tries to prioritise the child’s childhood and normal child needs and experiences as far as is possible. This is a basic fact of life for many families around the world, without the mother being at all abusive. Which is why covert incest was the term coined- because it’s clear what is and what isn’t sexual abuse/incest. And it’s not as clear cut with emotional incest. Which can make it even more difficult for the victim to identify as abuse (as they heal as an adult). The term covert works for survivors because it describes how it’s difficult to pin point as abuse.

[–] GCRadFem 9 points

Exactly this.

Parentified the child with an overlay of incest.