Why do parents of large to very large families tend to delegate the raising of the younger
children to the oldest sibling? Many parents from large to very large families (6 or more children) state that they have little or no part in raising their children, they purport that they make the oldest child/children in the family raise the younger siblings. Many oldest children, like my second cousin, first cousin, and a distant relative, concur with this premise.
I have 6 of my own children, plus 2 step kids (8 all together). I feel very qualified to answer your question here:
I have the older children help with the younger children for a number of reasons.
1. it helps teach them compassion, empathy, and patience.
2. it helps teach them responsibility
3. it helps them learn how to use their words, actions, and other skills in order to be a leader rather than a follower ~ they figure out how best to work with others
4. it gives them a sense of power and self-esteem
5. it gives them a better understanding of how it feels to be in charge and to either be listened to or not listened to ~ which in turn they can then apply to their own behavior when they are asked by an authority figure to carry out a chore, task, or assignment; or to follow laws
6. it helps them learn valuable skills with how to care for children which will in turn help them become better teachers, care providers, friends, aunts, uncles, parents, or babysitters.
7. it helps them understand how much responsibility goes into having and raising young children which may help prevent them from becoming parents too soon themselves. They learn to appreciate and desire being young and having fun.
Some parents may have the older children watch the younger ones because they need time to do other chores without being pulled away or distracted.
Some may do it because they need to work and money does not allow for a paid babysitter.
Some may do it because they aren't equipped to handle all of the responsibility themselves.
There are as many reasons for "why" as there are large families.
I hope this helped clear at least some of the question up for you.
Personally, I do take a large part in raising all of my children. I delegate chores and responsibilities out as I see fit in a manner which teaches the children and/or has the greater good of the family in mind. We are a team. We are a base community. I would be remiss in my duties as a parent if I never allowed my children to experience these things. I use the help and care of the younger siblings as a learning tool, a bonding experience, and a chance to grow in many areas of self for my older children.
This is so unfair to the oldest/older children in the family. It is my opinion that if a parent has the child, than HE/SHE should raise them, not the oldest child. If the parents are unable to raise the child/children, THEY should not have them!
Older children helping does not equate to them raising the child/children. Now, if the parents made the older siblings meal plan, cook, clean, bathe the children, dress the children, discipline, etc. - that's raising them.
I think it sounds like you have a perfect balance in your family. I bet it's a fun family, and that you're all close and have deep love and respect for each other. I have 3 young ones, and I try to give them little responsibilities whenever I can.
Parents forget that the younger children will not have the same responsibility. If you nee dolder children to watch younger ones, you do not need so many kids. Psychologists strongly disagree with children being put into adult roles.
Amanda, you are so correct. That is why oldest/older children in large to very large families resent both their parents and younger siblings for stealing and usurping their childhoods and adolescence. That is tantamount to child abuse! Spot-on!
I know this is old,. but it seems wrong to use the younger kids as learning tools. Plenty of people figured out childcare on own their own. I call it the older sibling syndrome. And like I said, how will the younger ones learn?
It is WRONG, even ABUSIVE to have older children parent younger children. That is the PARENTS' responsibility, not the oldest child. If the parents can't raise their children w/o the help of the oldest sibling, then they SHOULDN'T have the children in the first place. That is the HEIGHT of selfishness & stupidity if you ask me. Any parent who does this is unintelligent. Parents should have the number of children THEY can raise w/o the help of their children. If you have to have one of your children raise your children then you shouldn't have those children in the first place!
My husband and I both come from a large family and have a large family ourselves. I agree with what Mom Kat says. There is a great benefit for older children to teach them valuable lessons. When I can do this to teach both the younger and older children a great tool, then yes I am going to put it into practice. Yet, using this as a teaching method is different then expecting older children to "raise" the younger. Both my husband and I participated in caring for our younger siblings, but neither did the job of raising them and we use the same for our children as well. Two lessons I have to add to Mom Kat is that it promotes that, one, a family is a unit made up of individuals. You have to balance the individuals, but still remember we are also a whole. We all participate to keep all in the unit happy and healthy. The second is it helps to teach older children that there actions effect other people.
So, I believe the difference is whether or not the family is really leaving raising to the older children or whether it is a way to teach different life lessons. I have witness parents with only two children, who have a large age gap, depend on the oldest to raise the youngest. Either one is a choice of parenting per each family.
I agree with you that it is the parents responsibility. They chose to have a child and therefore it's their responsibility. I choose to have a large family; therefore, it is my responsibility. Whether you were meaning to imply all large family have this, I am not sure, but I have to disagree that this is a problem in every large family. The problem and dislike is due to a parenting choice. Would it be any different then having a dislike of those parents who have very few children and spend more money then time with them? It's a parenting choice per each family.
I didn't come from a "large" family. I have an older sister who is 7 years older and a brother who is 8 years younger (large age gaps I know...) My mom was a single mom and while I remember her being around some of the time I was primarily raised by my sister as a young child. By the time I was eight and my brother was born my sister had moved in with her dad and then I cared for my brother. To this day I still take on some parenting responsibilities with him (even though I've moved out)
While I wish my mom was a better parent after thinking about your question and how it shaped my siblings and I, I wouldn't change a thing. My sister and I both were very mature and responsible. We get and hold jobs easily (well I did, I'm a stay at home mom now), and hold long term relationships (even in high school I had the same boyfriend all 4 years, it ended and I've been with my husband ever since) I contribute that to all the things we learned by caring for a small child at a young age. The lessons described by Mom Kat are spot on.
My brother on the other had has not had to care for a younger sibling or a dog even. He's only 15 so we'll see, but so far he's lazy, somewhat immature, can't hold a girlfriend longer than 10 days, and can't talk trough disputes (he just pouts). He had a summer job recently. 2 hours of yard work every day for 10 days for my brother in law. He worked well enough but he cancelled 3 times!
Some of it may be personalities... but watching my brother I thank my mom for her flaws in shaping my sister and I into better adults.
My children are too close in age and I'm too much of a hands on mom (I rarely let my husband help) to do the same with them... but I do need to shape them into better adults so I will be giving them responsibilities somehow...
This is a good question. The behavior even applies to families who have only two children, especially when there is an age gap, i.e., the oldest child is 8 and the youngest is 2. It serves as a helping and convenience method of operating in the home. It can be used as a positive influence especially if accompanied with the words of "please" and "Thank you for helping." On the negative side, however, when there is the lack of appreciation for the help, it generates resentment on behalf of the older child(ren). I think simple tasks such as, "can you please get me a diaper," or "can you please get me her blanket" could be considered acceptable. I think some parents could take the behavior for granted or ask excessively for things to be done which cross the line of responsibility. Sometimes, too, circumstances tend to dictate the requests made. Also, what it imposes on the older child in his or her thought processes presents another subject to consider. I think Mom Kat provided a lot of the positive items that it can create. Really good question.
I have two older step sons and 3 younger sons, we have the older boys help out like with diapers and bottles but we don't expect them to raise the younger kids. The main reasons for having them help is that they need to know how to do the basics when it comes to babies. So many teenagers are getting pregnant and having babies and they simply don't know how to make a bottle or change a diaper. I think we have done a good job at teaching our kids about safe sex but things still happen and I'm not about to raise my grand kids. So I see nothing wrong with expecting teenagers to know how to take care of younger kids.
We raise our kids and don't expect anyone or want anyone to do it for us but we do use the younger ones (1 month old and 22 month old) as learning tools when it comes to the older boys. But then again my kids also do the dishes, take out the trash and know how to do their own laundry. If we sit back and do everything for our kids they will end up like all those self important spoiled brats you see in the news who think that everything should be handed to them and that they don't have to be responsible for anything ever.
It is YOUR kids, if you can't raise them, don't have them! It is abusive to have older children parent/raise younger children. You are forcing your kids to raise the younger ones & that isn't fair. You stated that you won't raise your grandkids while your kids are raising their siblings-what you are doing is abusive, even selfish -let your older kids be kids. Kids who raise siblings become so tired of this & as adults, elect not to have children themselves as they were parents already! My great aunts are examples of this. Your children should raise other siblings. They should participate in cultural, academic, & intellectual hobbies which will strengthen them. They should also participate in a junior achievement program which teaches them how to be successful in the work world & to be a leader. Being parents is beyond the pale for children. Children AIN'T equipped to be......PARENTS! They shouldn't be parents, they should BE FREE OF RESPONSIBILITIES & ENJOY THEIR YOUTH!
It's called helping. Family unity. There are no reasons for caring and nurturing one another. Our family of 4 (me, hubbie, and two daughters) all look after each other. My oldest daughter teaches her sister all she knows from what I've taught her. She's not the Mom she's the older sister and her responsibility is if something ever happens to Mommie, then she takes over or if Mommie or Daddy is not home she's in charge. It's called in my house, caring for one another. It works and is the best just in case. You never know.
There is a difference in helping with chores and putting a great burden on older kids. Older kids are still growing themselves.
Amanda, the average parent of a large to very large family have their oldest/older children raise the younger ones. It is de rigueur in large to very large families. These parents just do not care- they view their oldest/older children as servant
I believe that most parents do it to teach their children life lessons or to help the parents manage their time and other responsibilities. There are many valuable lessons to be learned in this manner. However, there are also parents who are simply selfish and choose to use their older children as surrogates while they do other things that please them. Thankfully it appears these types are a minority.
If some parents in large families do this, it's simply because it's easy and practical (for the parents). What usually happens is that the oldest take over responsibility for the middle children, not the youngest. Those are still under the care of the parents. This is more to the detriment of the middle children than the older caretaker siblings.
Many people I know with a large age gap between their siblings actually enjoyed the experience of parenting their younger siblings. They developed a strong bond, much like a parent-child bond.
It sounds like your extended family were a bunch of slackers. We all had our chores to do, not because mom and dad couldn't do them but because we needed to learn these things. To learn responsibility. Mom and dad never made us responsible to the younger kids. Mom always felt that that kind of responsibility was too much for a kid. What if something happened while in the care of an older kid? The older one would be scarred for life.
I almost ran over a baby a couple of years ago when a mother who only had 3 kids expected her 8 year old to be responsible for a baby who was still crawling. They were outside while the mom was "entertaining" her latest boyfriend. That baby moved fast, I saw him up in the yard but by the time I put my car in reverse he was under my car behind the front wheel. An adult ran out of one of the apartments and stopped me before I backed up. It was the scariest moments of my life when I realized where he was. I called the police and told them what happened when I got home.
What you say does happen, but in all sizes of families. There are a lot of parents who should not be parents out there.
I would be so pissed if someone put me in a situation like that! I'm glad you called the police. I used to make the same points you mentioned in the first paragraph to my own mother. She would even turn her phone off while she was out! grr...
After it was over and the baby was all right, I was shaking like a leaf and even cried. I may have even had a nightmare or two. I can't imagine taking someone else's life let alone a baby's, even accidentally.
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