2 months ago

Psychotherapist explained the TikTok trend 'glass child syndrome' - and how to stop it impacting you as an adult

A psychotherapist has explained the TikTok trend 'glass child syndrome' - and how to stop it impacting you as an adult.

Debbie Missud, 26, says you are a 'glass child' when you are the healthy or well sibling of chronically ill children, so often feel invisible to your parents.

She said she was a 'glass child' because her sibling suffered with mental health issues such as bipolar and OCD.

She explained he took up a disproportionate amount of her parents' time which led her to be hyper-independent.

Debbie debunked the myth that children of chronically ill parents can be glass children and also said that it isn't a mental health condition in itself.

As the well sibling, she developed into a chronic people pleaser and felt an overwhelming pressure to be problem-free and perfect.

Debbie started suffering from anxiety aged 22 and went to therapy where she unpacked her glass child syndrome.

She advises well children to seek therapy and to talk to their parents - if they can - about their issues and to set clear boundaries.

The psychotherapist from New York City said: "A glass child is someone who grew up with a chronically ill sibling; this can be mental or physical or any child who takes up a disproportionate amount of parental needs.

"Not every child with a chronically ill sibling is a glass child.

"Well siblings feel invisible to others have a hard time expressing their emotions and feel the overwhelming pressure to be problem free or perfect.

"They are often hyper-independent and learn to take care of themselves from an early age.

"They can feel like an inconvenience when they talk about their needs and guilty about their accomplishments as there siblings wouldn't be able to accomplish the same things."

According to Debbie, 'glass child syndrome' starts early in childhood but the well child isn't usually aware of the impacts.

The psychotherapist only became aware of phenomenon when she sought therapy to treat her anxiety and relationship dissatisfaction at the age of 22.

She said: "I am one of those people who didn't realise until I was an adult.

"My brother experienced a tonne of mental health issues and I had anxiety in college so I started to see a therapist.

"I had consuming ruminations - my mind was busy all the time.

"I had so much tension I developed tension migraines.

Debbie says she struggled being a chronic people pleaser and had trouble setting boundaries.

She said: "I had very porous boundaries and I struggled with perfectionism.

"I realised it's okay to not make everybody happy with me all of the time."

According to Debbie, she was fortunate enough to have parents she could speak to about her problems.

She said: "In my case, my parents told me too much about my brother's problems and I became my mum's support system.

"Once I set that boundary it's been positive."

According to Debbie there are misconceptions that 'glass child syndrome' is a mental health condition.