Young children who look after their parents

Filed under: Activities: Babies, Health & Safety: Babies, Development/Milestones: Babies

Imagine being five-years-old and having a mother with a degenerative disease. Now imagine being five and taking care of both yourself and your mother.

For many children around the world, this is a reality. Since Michael was four-months-old, his mother has suffered from a disease that has left her disabled. Michael has had to grow up very fast in order to take care of both himself and his mom.

He can help her get to the toilet and in the shower. He can make his own sandwich when hungry and fold up his mom's wheelchair to fit in the trunk (boot) of a car.

Michael is called a "young carer," and is one of 175,00 children taking care of a family member in Britain. He is now a part of an organization called Barnardo's, which helps these children be kids for just a few moments.

I recently saw an episode on Oprah about children that ended up taking care of their own siblings when a parent could no longer do so. In the show I saw, I don't remember the parents being sick (though one or two might have been) but, rather had drug problems.

Barnardo's offers the children a way to get counseling for their unique lives and also a way to arrange for respite care and socialization for the children. I just hope the children get the help they need; too often these kids stay quiet for fear of being taken from their homes.

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.