So I imagine you are thinking, “This is rather interesting, but I don’t have four children.” Or maybe you’re thinking, “I don’t think my child displays just one of these roles.” “What about me? I have an only child?”
I’d like to emphasize this is just a working framework. Having some knowledge of these tendencies is useful. I think being aware of these patterns of behavior is helpful, and not just to the therapeutic or recovering community.
Often during childhood, circumstances change in the household. Drinking worsens or improves. Behaviors become more restrictive or loosen. Families divorce. Members die. Moves occur. Job responsibilities shift. The list is endless. These circumstances impact the family as a unit, not just individual members.
I know for me when my only sister left our home, it thrust me into a new position.
I would tell you that as a young girl, I had a lot of Hero tendencies. During middle school, (perhaps because of the transition to a new school and neighborhood) I retreated a bit and fell into the Lost Child role. After my sister married, I filled her role as that of the Scapegoat. She was no longer filling the position, and all eyes shifted towards me and not in a positive way. Teenage antics didn’t help, but I found it rather shocking to be singled out in a negative way when this had never occurred for me before in my life.
I say this to show how a child can engage in several roles during their childhood and may even vacillate between two roles. For example, a Scapegoat child may mix up their typical behaviors with some mascot behaviors. Breaking the tension with comedy works, especially in peer groups.
In my next blog, I’d like to point out the benefits of healing childhood behaviors that are troublesome. Let’s look at how behaviors may shift when work is done to be more authentic.