How much responsability is too much for childreen?

I’m meet several respectful, competent, kind, and compassionate eight grade girls teaching catechism. In getting to know them, I’ve discovered one girl takes care of her mother who is in a wheel chair with MS. She does most of the cooking (on line shopping, banking, preparation, meal planning, and cleaning). I bet she would drive if the law would allow it. Her cousin who is older does the driving, and I suspect she takes care of her parent who may be an alcoholic. The other girl in our class has two great parents, but is the eldest of six childreen and seems to be responsable for all her siblings (at mass; I didn’t knoticed till my husband made a coment about it) … Anyways, our director is also aware of these situations but it still pulls at my heart that these young woman seem to have such large duties at young ages.

How much is too much? I think if they seem stressed out about it, it’s too much.

I am not so sure it is a matter of these girls having too much responsibility, but rather that most children have too little responsibility. Therefore, children who do have responsibility seem to have “too much”.

I don’t think children should be held responsible for their younger siblings. I think it may lead to them resenting that task and not want to be parents. I’m all for telling teens to keep an eye on their siblings if you are running to the grocery store, but when the whole family is at Mass, Mom and Dad should be the parents.

When I was in the 8th grade I helped with laundry, my brother and I would take turns washing the dishes, and cleaning our bathroom. I had to keep my room clean and I would help my mom cook, if I wasn’t at cheerleading or softball practice.

I do believe that children should have chores and have responsibility, I don’t think that they should have parental duties.

totally agree on this. Also an eight year old doing banking, that is way too much.

8th grade, not an 8 year old. An 8th grade student would be about 13.

Oh ok, my error I misread.

She said “eighth grader”, not “eight year old”. Still, no sibling should have parental responsibility when the parents are there. Sheesh, in the province where I grew up eighth graders have just reached the age where the parents can legally leave them home alone.

Well, if they are truly “respectful, competent, kind, and compassionate”, then wouldn’t this be an indication that the responsibility is good for them?

It depends.

They could be holding it together by a thread. As an adult, it is difficult to be a caregiver. I can’t imagine doing it as a child. Especially if there is no end in sight.

I just met a 10 year old on Sunday who is living with her grandmother. Grandparents have full custody of her and her 3 siblings because mom is a drug addict. This little girl didn’t make it to school in the year she was to be in 2nd grade, she was busy at home taking care of her two year old and infant siblings while mom smoked crack.

Luckily someone finally figured it out and the children were taken into care, then mom gave birth to a fourth child that was also taken away. Grandparents finally got custody about 18 months ago. The oldest two are thriving; the baby, who was supposedly born addicted, is also doing much better than expected. Only the baby this little girl looked after is not doing so well developmentally. She’s barely verbal and not very social.

Where are the fathers of these girls?

It is a lot for a 14 or 15 year old girl to take care of a disabled parent. I don’t think it’s healthy for a child to take care of an alcoholic parent, as it is not the same as being disabled. Although I do consider it to be a disease, it can be arrested through abstinence, and alcoholism is not only fatal for the alcoholic, it causes great dysfunction in the family. I don’t like an older child to have total responsibility for younger siblings. Helping, yes, but not parenting because that is not her job.

These are just my opinions on the subject.

As sweet as these girls may be, I would be reluctant to believe a 13 or 14 year old’s perspective on how much work they do around their house is entirely accurate. To put that statement in terms that many parents can relate, most children think they take care and do everything for their pets too.

Allowing a child to do something is different from making them do it. Sometimes children take responsibility for their younger brothers and sisters that was* not* given to them exclusively.

“Great parents” of large families may run their family similar to a successful company. The CEO of a successful company watches over, guides and directs junior management.

Also, please do not criticize the mom with MS. I suspect she’d love to be able to do everything for her daughter that her daughter is doing for her.

This is spot-on and something to consider!

If you were to ask my children: they wash ALL the dishes, they put away ALL the clothes, they ALWAYS bring in the groceries and put them all away (you get the idea). Not that the children in your classroom are lying, and it is good that you are concerned! However I would be reluctant to form an opinion of family life based solely on a 13-year-old’s comments. They could be doing too much but it is nearly impossible to discern that because you are only getting a child’s story, in addition there is little you can do to intervene anyway unless the circumstances are abusive.

Thank you for volunteering to work with youth, that is wonderful! God bless you and please be assured of my prayers.

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