Presenting the "Roles" in detail:

    Please remember that these are defensive, adaptive and "normal" reactions
    (Coping Strategies) to severe dysfunction (especially from alcohol). But ones that
    become dysfunctional because they begin to interfere with leading a positive,
    constructive, successful and satisfying life). These are not psychiatric categories
    or classifications.

    The ROLES
    * The Lost Child         * The Ghost         * The Adjuster Children         * The Responsible Child
    * The Family Hero    * The Good Child    *The Rebel   * The Problem Child
    * The Acting-Out Child     *The Family Jerk   * The Scapegoat  * The Rescuer
    * The Placater    * The Mascot   * The Caretaker   * The Clown * The Fixer
    * The Bully    * The Last Hope.  * The major "victim", The Lost Child has a separate page:
Walk with Me
Through darkened rooms we'll
climb. Past covered dust-filled
sculptures in the night. With
hand in Mine we'll fight the shadows
left behind. Till all that's hid within is
brought to light. Nor tremble at the
sights which you have seen. For
if in Me you trust with all your heart.
Then all the times of sorrow I'll redeem.
    The Responsible Child * The Family Hero
    * The Good Child

    This child is an achiever, this is usually (but not always) the
    oldest child.  This is the child who is "9 going on 40."  

    This child tries to transcend (rise above) the sickness of
    family the environment by behaving like an angel. In taking
    on adult responsibility at a young age, the Responsible Child
    strives to excel at everything.

    They take on other people's problems and generally
    compensate for feelings of inferiority, with a drive to
    accomplish and prove themselves.

    This child takes over the parent role at a very young age,
    becoming very responsible and self-sufficient. When this
    takes the form of parenting younger children, the child
    becomes a junior mom or dad - they become "parentified".
    See Dysfunctional Family for a brief overview of what
    "parentified"  is all about.

    Then he/she plays out the "higher-powered" parent role in
    later relationships. They are good leaders and decision-
    makers, but have difficulty listening to, and negotiating
    with others.

    FAMILY HERO – An achiever
    These Hero children give the family self-worth because
    they look good on the outside. They are the good students;
    the sports stars; the prom queen. In childhood, the parents
    look to this child to prove that they are good parents and
    good people.
    The "Hero" is usually (but not always) the oldest child. As adults they are often
    workaholics who can identify other’s needs and meet them, but is without an
    understanding of their own needs.  This is often a child who uses their success to find
    a sense of belonging — the one who shows the family is “all right,” but who is unable
    to feel the benefit of his/her achievements. They feel like a fraud and are subject to
    depressions which they hide from those around them.

    In adulthood, the Good Child/Family Hero is rigid, controlling, and extremely
    judgmental (although perhaps very subtle about it) - of others, and secretly of
    themselves.  They achieve "success" on the outside and get lots of  positive attention,
    but are cut off from their inner emotional life, from their True Self.

    They are  compulsive and driven as adults because deep inside they feel inadequate
    and insecure: they have an inferiority complex, because of their "success" in con-
    forming to dysfunctional cultural definitions of what constitutes doing life "right",
    is often the child in the family who as an adult has the hardest time even admitting
    that there is anything within themselves that needs to be healed.
    They are emotionally stunted.

    In group situations, the Good Child takes on too much responsibility, disallowing the
    empowerment of others.  They run things, but without much joy or satisfaction. The
    Good Child can get self-righteous or persecutory if they  are feeling unappreciated.

    * The Rebel  * The Problem Child  * The Acting-Out Child * The Family Jerk
    This child is in action at the slightest provocation, whether as an hero to prevent abuse
    to someone else (by distracting the abuser), or to protect himself/herself with wildness.
    This is the child who is most visible to  the outside world. These children are often
    involved in unacceptable behaviour, such as fighting, stealing or acting out, and  who
    may adopt alcoholism, drug addiction or other compulsive behaviour early in defiance
    of the family system.

    They get their attention in negative ways. These children often understand what is going
    on in their family better than the others do. They tend to be strong leaders and creative
    individuals. However, they may have poor social skills and have difficulty dealing
    with authority.

    This child is the barometer of the family dynamics. As the Problem Child, he/she does
    poorly in school, gets into trouble, turns to drugs, gets pregnant or otherwise causes
    problems that take focus away from the family problems.  The child does not do this
    consciously, but is driven by his/her own intolerable sensitivity.

    In group situations the Problem Child/Member role may mix among a few people. They
    are often in crisis, which distracts the group from moving forward. There is more
    permission to leave in a group than there is in a family,  and the Problem Child may
    do just that. The group may then find that problems suddenly pop up in another
    member. If the Problem Child does not leave, she/he may serve another function in
    the system: the Scapegoat.

    THE SCAPEGOAT or FAMILY JERK – This child takes the blame and shame for the
    actions of other family members by  being the most visibly dysfunctional. This child
    serves the family by being sick or crazy to allow the other members of the  family to
    ignore their own dysfunction. This is also the child who holds the family  together
    — the family rallies to help the family jerk.  He/She learns to remain dysfunctional to
    continue receiving the little attention available in a dysfunctional home by making
    the family “okay” by being the focus of all that is “not okay” which all members of the
    family vaguely sense. This is the child that the family feels ashamed of - and the most
    emotionally honest child in the family. He/She acts out the tension and anger the
    family ignores.

    These children become adults who are valued for their kind heart, generosity, and ability
    to listen to others. Their whole self-definition is centered on others.  They have difficulty
    focusing on themselves, and they therefore don't know how to get their own needs met.
    They are warm, empathetic and sensitive individuals,  but they tend  to put up with
    inappropriate behaviour from other people.

    This child provides distraction from the real issues in the family.  The scapegoat usually
    has trouble in school because they get attention the only way they know how - which is
    negatively.  They often become pregnant or addicted as teenagers as a way of expressing
    their anger at the family. This child takes responsibility for the emotional wellbeing of
    the family and works at minimizing the negative feelings.

    These children are usually the most sensitive and caring; which is why they feel such
    tremendous hurt. They are romantics who become very cynical and distrustful.  They
    have a lot of self-hatred and can be very self-destructive. The Scapegoat also takes the
    blame and shame for the actions of other family members by being the most visibly
    dysfunctional. This child serves the family by being sick or crazy to allow the other
    members of the family to ignore their own dysfunction.

    This is also the child who holds the family together — the family rallies to help the family
    jerk. He/She learns to remain dysfunctional to continue receiving the little attention
    available in a dysfunctional home by making the family "okay". They do this by being the
    focus of all that is "not okay" which all members of the family vaguely sense.

    Scapegoats are identified as the "family problem." They function as a sort of pressure
    valve. When tension builds  in the family, the scapegoat will misbehave as a way of
    relieving pressure while allowing the family to avoid dealing with the drinking problem.
    Scapegoats tend to be unaware of any feelings other than anger.

    The Scapegoat is the one who gets the blame for the dysfunctional system. ("Johnny/Suzy
    causes such problems,  I can't get anything done.") The family itself is rarely able to
    perceive that their whole way of functioning is sick. Instead, it puts all its anger into scape-
    goating, which, of course, increases the problems. In groups, the Scapegoat may be the
    newest member, the group leader, the editor of a newsletter, or the one  who generally has
    the most problems with the group process.  Like the Problem Child, they may choose to
    leave; but another person will quickly become the Scapegoat in their place.
    THE RESCUER-Fixer – Similar to the Family Hero, but without the visible success. The
    Rescuer finds those in need, lets them move in or marries them, or finds a job for them
    while supplying other needs and  is very understanding of the frequent betrayals. The
    rescuer has a deep seated self-hate that drives them to their role  as a savior, because they
    know that anyone not already at the bottom of the barrel would have nothing to do with
    them. They tend to feel inadequate in their giving, and unable to accept help for their
    own needs.

    Like the Good Child, the Fixer/Rescuer is constantly trying to smooth things out. They
    become a Codependent -- one who is fixated on solving others' problems in a way that
    ignores their own, and allows the others to continue in self-destructive behaviour. The
    Rescuer/Fixer often becomes codependent later in life. As The Clown, this child keeps
    himself and the family distracted by playing the entertainer. The Clown denies that there
    is any problem, gets attention for himself through bringing some joviality into a grim
    situation, and keeps the emotional pain at a tolerable level.

    Later in life the Clown is still distracting group process, often getting strokes for it because
    they do alleviate a dreary situation, yet they prevent true work from being accomplished.
    No group would be complete without them, they are often seen as the group's saviour,
    yet their fixing is more like an aspirin than a cure. They're the ones we can't live with,
    and can't live without.

    Placater children learn early to smooth over potentially upsetting situations in the
    family. They seem to have an uncanny ability to sense what others are feeling at the
    expense of their own feelings. They tend to take total responsibility for the emotional
    care of the family. Because of their experience in this role, they often choose careers
    as helping professionals, careers which can reinforce their tendencies to ignore their
    own needs.  They become adults who cannot receive love; only give it.  They often have
    caseloads rather than friendships. They tend to get involved in abusive relationships
    in an attempt to "save" the other person.  They go into the helping professions and
    become nurses, and social workers, and therapists, etc. They have very low self-worth
    and feel a lot of guilt that they work very hard to overcome by being really "nice" (i.e,
    people pleasing, classically codependent) people.

    The Bully:  This child is usually the victim of physical, sexual and/or emotional abuse,
    who successfully makes the mental transition to stop being the victim by victimizing
    others. Often the Bully is genuinely  remorseful for the pain and suffering caused to
    others, but will continue inflicting that abuse rather than face his/her own pain.

    The Last Hope Child is similar to the Lost Child. The Last Hope child is the caretaker
    for the family when all other members have become unable to continue their roles.
    Often the Last Child is raised on comments like, "You'll never hurt me like so and so.
    " These children may work themselves to death trying to do "what's right" for blood
    relations or adopted families, no matter what the expense to their own life
    (also "The Lost Child").

    THE MASCOT – Often a younger child who uses humor or other distracting behavior,
    such as being exceptional clumsy or always  in trouble, to take the focus of the family
    away from the problems of the family dysfunction. If the parent is violently drunk, the
    Mascot may take the abuse to “save” the rest of the family, or may be able to crack a joke
    at the necessary moment to take everyone’s mind off the pain of their reality.

    THE ADJUSTER – The one who is never bothered by what is happening; there is no
    reason to be excited because everyone had to live with family problems. The child never
    becomes too attached to goals or a desire because they have learned to change their
    direction at any moment. They float, knowing something is wrong but coping, often
    successfully, with one chaotic situation after another by surrendering their identity to
    the  needs of the moment.

    THE DOORMAT – The abused child who survives by lying down and letting others
    walk all over him/her,  rather than risk an unpleasant or dangerous confrontation. This
    child is very understanding of the need   someone else may have to injure him/her, but
    cannot identify his/her feelings about the abuse in the past or present.

    THE ACTING OUT CHILD or THE REBEL – This child is in action at the slightest
    provocation, whether as an heroic action to prevent abuse to someone else (by distracting
    the abuser) or to protect himself/herself with wildness. This is the child who is most
    visible to the outside world and who may adopt alcoholism, drug addiction or other
    compulsive behavior early in defiance of the family system.

    THE LOST CHILD (See Lost Child) – Often a younger (or the youngest) child, this
    personality type has learned to stay out of the way, not make his/her wants known
    and to expect nothing. They avoid feeling by denying that they have feelings. They
    adopt whatever behavior will allow them to stay invisible within the family, at work,
    at school or  in a relationship. This is the child who can assume whatever personality
    those around him/her find least threatening. No wonder they are such consummate
    actors/actresses - and so disconnected.

    An Adult Child may have several of the above characteristics at one time, or may play
    a different role within the family at different ages or depending on who they are
    responding to.
    "Roles" are coping strategies taken by children growing up in negative environments. Each
    personality type has its special needs for healing, and each type can recover if they are
    willing to take the risk in believing they can change and heal.  Because the personalities of
    the family are mangled, the character traits of the children can be equally blurred. In
    adulthood, the child may have several of the above characteristics at one time, or may
    play a different role within the family at different ages or depending on who they are
    responding to.

    The patterns that occur are as many and varied as the people we are. The "mistake" comes
    from focusing  too much on the individual roles, and failing to see the dynamics of the
    environmental "system" as a whole. We can focus  on the plight of the poor Scapegoat, or
    the burden on the Fixer, but we tend to focus on an individual, through the lens of our
    own roles, instead of learning to think as a "system".

    In a family or group system, everything affects everything else. Scapegoat or Clown,
    Leader or Ghost, the whole system is affected by each action and presence (or absence).
    Those who obviously have power are  no more important than those who appear to
    have less power, and all have equal ability to topple the system.

    The “positive” aspects:
    We adopt the roles that are best suited to our personalities (we are born with a certain
    personality). What happens with the roles we adopt in our family dynamic is that we get a
    twisted, sick and distorted view of who we are as a result of our personality melding
    (blending) with the roles.

    This is dysfunctional - it causes us to not be able to see ourselves clearly.  As long as we
    are still reacting  to our childhood wounding and old tapes then we cannot get in touch
    clearly with who we really are.  We can heal - any time we want to!

    It is important to remember that the false self that we develop to survive is never totally
    false - there is always some Truth in it.  For example, people who go into the helping
    professions do truly care, and are not doing what they do simply out of Codependence.
    Nothing is black and white - everything in life involves various shades of grey.  

    Healing is about getting honest with ourselves, and finding some balance in our life.
    Healing is about seeing ourselves more clearly and honestly so that we can start being
    true to who we  really are, instead of to who our parents wanted us to be.

    Note that reacting to the other extreme by rebelling against who they wanted us to be
    is still living life in reaction to our childhoods. It is still giving power over how we live
    our life to the past instead of seeing clearly so that we can own our choices today.
You are a child of the universe, and you have a right to be here: Victim No More
Klaas Tuinman
Dawn Cove Abbey
Deerfield, Nova Scotia 2010:
Meaford, Ontario - revised 2019
    If you are one that this fits one of the roles in this description fits, and are searching for
    a way to heal, and it was your parents who were involved in bringing about this
    situation - the following might be helpful: "I didn't stop that fear is the only thing that
    you know and have, then suicide seems like a good alternative. And so  I tried three
    times. And finally that third time, I realized that I had to either make a new choice,
    which was to give up  my parents - not give up my parents - or love for my
    parents, but have them quit running my life, and quit having fear in my life or I was
    going to end up living in a psychiatric ward for the rest of  my life."  (Also see "Fear")

    NOTE: This page, like most pages on the site, describes and explains behaviours and
    circumstances.  They can bring understanding, and while understanding by itself does
    not necessarily bring recovery: it can bring a sense of relief.

    Understanding is only the first step - it is not the recovery process itself!

    The information on this page describes an 'extreme' of behaviour. Very few people ever
    display all of them. Some of the behaviours listed here are actually ‘normal’ responses
    to certain events and situations. These reactions usually subside and lose their power to
    disrupt life or create and maintain chaos. However, when a person is deeply wounded
    they linger and contribute to dysfunction.

    The good news is that although it seems difficult, anyone can dig down deep past set
    behaviours and  change their core responses. If you're curious as where you place on
    the dysfunction scale, or whether you are on it or not, please take this Quiz.
Regardless how long your behaviour pattern and circumstances may
have existed, and no matter how much you despair of healing:
recovery - healing and becoming a true survivor is possible at
any time. "Each night I die to old habits and to negative thinking and
actions that do not serve me any longer. Each morning I am
resurrected into new life, again and again –
if I so choose."
(adapted from the chapel's prayers).

"As long as you keep thinking that it is not your fault (how you feel
now); that s
omething else must change, you will continue to feel
helpless and powerless. By continuing to play the victim, you will be
totally at the mercy of your environment."
Dawn Cove Abbey
"Roadside assistance" For Your Journey Through Life
From the eBook: "One! The Journey hOMe", by Klaas Tuinman M.A.  © 2007-2019
Questions and comments welcomed.
Adult Children Roles: Detail

Adaptive Coping & Survival Strategies
    Child Roles: - an introductory description
    * Not all Children will have all of the traits and characteristics described on their
    respective pages.  The Roles and Behaviour Patterns have far-reaching
    consequences for their later personal life, and the lives of those around them. Recovery
    and healing are always possible, and although sometimes it is a long journey, which
    can be difficult, many people succeed. Regardless of their survival, these individuals
    ultimately tend become scarred victims of their backgrounds: their Inner Child was
    severely damaged.

    Adult Children adopted roles  in childhood as a coping or survival strategy. "Survival"
    at that time simply meant to avoid being hurt, damaged or killed as much as possible.
    These roles basically were automatic, reflex coping strategies adopted, and then
    developed into more permanent behaviours by children growing up in negative

    Because these were automatic, the child was hardly aware of them - the responses just
    became a "way of life", and the reason for them, let alone the reason for any particular
    "role", faded away over the years. Many adults are not aware of it even having happened
    because it was insidious: gradual and subtle: they just kind of slowly slipped into them.
    They did not invent the names for the various roles - others who observed and
    experienced them learned to distinguish between them - and give the names.

    * There are many different roles children in these circumstances and
    environments take on. This page deals with the most severe and
    devastating one: The Lost Child”.  A separate page describes the others.

    * Each of the personality types has special needs - each "type" can recover if they are
      willing to take the risk in believing they can change and heal.
      This includes the Lost Child.