In today’s society it’s not uncommon for older children to have a lot of responsibility for younger siblings, household chores, preparing dinner and other aspects of running a household with duel working parents or single parent homes.
There can be a price to pay if a child is overwhelmed with too much responsibility at too young an age. On the one hand, the way a family works is to pitch in together, but on the other hand you don’t want to rob your child of their youth.
If your child has more household responsibility than you, then you’ve given them too much to do. You’re the parent and that means that you should have more of a share of household duties than your child. It’s easier if you have more children to spread out the duties to, but if you are relying on one child to do everything at home, it’s too much. Remember that you are the parent and you chose to have the children and you chose your life. Your child did not.
Poor Self Esteem
Children who are given too much responsibility may suffer from low self esteem issues because no matter how hard they try they’ll never be able to live up to the standards either the adults or they set for themselves. They feel incompetent to handle the tasks given to them, do them poorly and suffer the consequences. The poor self image can manifest in many ways such as acting out, perfectionism and more. It can start in the teens and follow them through adult hood.
Anxiety & Depression
Many teens who are required to step into parent role due to parents who work long hours or other issues such as illness, divorce or death often suffer from a great deal of anxiety and depression. This type of anxiety and depression isn’t going to end when the child is an adult, it will follow them. If your teen is often anxious about meeting deadlines and doing everything they need to do take a look at their schedule realistically.
If a teenager is having to deal with parenting responsibilities of younger siblings after school it can be difficult, if not impossible to stay up to date on homework requirements and studying. It can cause poor performance on tests, and even a lack of caring about the grades because survival is more important. Feeding the kids, doing the laundry, and the home has become more important.
Resentment & Anger Issues
Many times when a teenager is expected to care for younger siblings and essentially perform the role of a parent they can become resentful and angry at their parents and their siblings for putting them in this situation. It’s natural for a teenager to want to experience life as a teenager, and if at all possible the parents should ensure that they can.
If you are in a situation where there is no other way around having your older teenager step in and do a lot of the household and parenting chores for younger siblings then you’ll need to find solutions to help your child deal with the issue. You can start by sitting down and talking to your child respectfully and finding ways to bring balance into your child’s life. Remember, you are the parent, not them. You chose this life, they have to live it.