• parentification;
  • mental health symptoms;
  • perceived unfairness;
  • differentiation of self;
  • affect regulation

Existing research indicates that parentification can result in positive and negative outcomes for individuals; however, little is known about the mechanisms that account for the variability. This study tested a theoretical model of the relation between parentification tasks and mental health symptoms, with perceived unfairness and differentiation of self (DoS) as mediators. The results supported the proposed model in a sample of 783 college students. A significant total indirect effect existed between the latent construct of parentification and that of mental health symptoms. Significant specific indirect effects were observed between parentification and mental health symptoms with perceived unfairness as a mediator; between parentification and DoS with perceived unfairness as a mediator and between perceived unfairness and mental health symptoms mediated by DoS. Implications for clinical work with adult clients who have experienced parentification in their family of origin are addressed.