The issue of older siblings helping with younger siblings appears (to me at least) to be a pretty polarized issue. Should the older kids step in when mom needs a break or can’t seem to whip out her third arm? It is putting too much weight on a child and robbing them of their childhood? There seems to be arguments on either side, and many people feel quite passionately about their stance.
While I do think it is important for kids to be allowed to enjoy their childhood, I think we, as a society, put almost a sacred importance on not impeding on their play time and leisure. Too often, I see people come out of high school that don’t know how to cook their own food, wash their own clothes, or take care of their finances. Are we really doing them a favor by sheltering them from responsibility until adulthood?
Care Bear has what I consider to be a small amount of chores: take care of the litterbox, feed the cat, take out the compost, keep her room relatively clean, and help when asked. She probably helps cook dinner once or twice a week, helps with dishes slightly more than that, and helps take care of her sister sporadically throughout the day. The last item is what I catch the most flack about.
As a much older sibling, I feel this is a golden opportunity to teach Care Bare valuable parenting skills, and home management. Even if she doesn’t choose to stay home like I do, she needs to know how to prioritize her home and how to handle the care and discipline of a child. If Jannah (heaven) is at the feet of our mothers, and insha’Allah us when we have children, then why wouldn’t we spend a good amount of time training our young women how to be good mothers? Not all kids have an opportunity to watch a little child grow up. In this time they can learn how to handle tantrums, discipline without anger, negotiate without giving up authority, and care for the little child’s needs and wants.
Care Bear also gets to see the reality that parenting can be tough, and sometimes that means we need a break. It isn’t because we don’t love the youngster, but instead we are human and have limits. There are times where I have spent near an hour trying to put Little Miss down to sleep and I’ve had enough. Care Bear can step in and help out! Am I ruining Care Bear’s childhood by asking her to step in and help? I don’t think so, but everyone is welcome to their own opinion.
Do your older kids help care for the younger kids? If so, how much? Where’s your limit?