FAMILIES of CAREGIVING YOUTH
Some children help look after someone in their family by:
* Staying in the house a lot to be there for them.
* Helping them to get up, get washed or get dressed.
* Doing lots of the household chores like shopping, cleaning, cooking . . . and maybe looking after younger brothers and sisters as well.
For many families, this seems like the only option – you may be a single parent family with no relatives living nearby, or a two parent family but one of you works long hours. If you feel that your children are taking on more of a caring role than you would like, there are two things you can do to help – click on the links to find out, or email us with a question.
“We’re working in the dark, trying to deal with our feelings, feeling guilty for relying on our children. You know they’re not responsible for you but they feel they are. You know they’re angry and there’s nowhere for them to go to before it develops. The anger festers until it gets too much and it explodes. You can hear the desperation with professionals - that they haven’t got the resources - but they’re so defensive. The door closes against you and you will never go and knock again. My doctor said to my child ‘Look after mummy, you’re the healthiest one in the family’. We need more than recognition. We need understanding.”
“Everyone always asks how I am. Ask about my child.” “Services should provide all the help at their disposal, to help children to be children and not have to grow up before their time by taking on an adult’s responsibility. They are children for such a short time and an adult forever.” West Sussex disabled parents and carers, November 2001
Being a young carer can affect a young person’s education as:
* They may feel they have to take time off school.
* They may feel tired or stressed.
* They may stay in to be there for someone when others are going out and socializing because they worry about someone while they’re out.
Read more: What help can I get for my child?
Disabled Parents Rights
All disabled parents have a right to the support they need, so that no one has to rely on the caring role of a child. But many parents tell us that they are not being given the right support. We want this to change
What help can I get as a parent?
Get the help that you are entitled to.
Many people are afraid of asking for help. You might be worried that services might try to interfere. Many parents don’t get all of the help and benefits that they are entitled to. Getting help can feel like a risk, but it might be the only way to make life easier for you and your family. You might feel more confident getting help from a service or organisation by first asking them:
Read more: What help can I get as a parent?
What I should Know about Caregiving Youth
Perspectives on Caregiving Youth
Connie Siskowski, RN, PhD
"I've learned what it must be like to have a baby" a ninth grade honors student living in Delray Beach, Florida responded when asked what she has learned from her experiences in caring for her grandmother. She and her older sister agreed. And, the sister went on to say that she has learned to be responsible. She knows that her grandmother, who lives with her family, doesn't know when she is hungry and it's time for her to eat; so her granddaughter keeps track of the time, prepares her meal, and assists her with eating to makes sure she gets the nourishment she needs. Her grandmother is thin and in constant motion as she walks around the locked home, spending much energy and burning many calories.
Read more: What I should Know about Caregiving Youth