Kids Helping Kids – Yay or Nay?

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.

Should older kids help their younger siblings?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?

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9 Responses to Kids Helping Kids – Yay or Nay?

  1. no two ways about it for me, the older ones (son and daughter both) must help out; they have their own set of chores, and they are trained to drop whatever they’re doing when summoned for, which includes babysitting the younger ones when needs be. responsibilities vary according to their ages and capabilities, each child is different but moms know their offsprings best!

    • middlewaymom says:

      Absolutely! Sometimes I think moms underestimate what their child is able to do, but starting out young is the best to get a good gauge. Even Little Miss helps with putting away clean dishes and pouring ingredients into a recipe. That’s so great your kids are already learning responsibility!

  2. Salam alaykum sister,

    Ma shaa Allah i agree it doesn’t hurt for our children to learn responsibilities from a young age because I was one of those cant cook etc kids that had everything done for me and I must say its done me no favours now I’m older married and have children.

    • middlewaymom says:

      I know how you feel! My parents taught me some things, but largely I had no idea how to cook anything that didn’t come in a box. We were just too busy when I was growing up for them to teach me everything they knew! Alhamdulilah, we can learn things as adults and eventually it isn’t apparent we had no clue not long ago. 🙂

  3. I completely agree with you. Mine are still very young and close in age (3 & 5) but still, there are times occasionally when my 3 yr old asks me to do something for him and I have to tell him, “Mama’s busy at the moment but you could ask sissy to help you with that” and usually she doesn’t mind. I also agree with having them do chores that are appropriate for their age, to teach them responsibility and an attitude of being a helper and a ‘team player’. Mine are too young to do very many chores yet, but they are expected to pick up their toys and after a meal they clear their dishes from the table. I’m sure there are lots of older siblings (probably most!) who complain about having to babysit or take care of/help a younger sibling, but I think it’s just life! 🙂

  4. Janet Dubac says:

    I think there’s nothing wrong about letting your kids help you out with small chores–I even think that it’s a good idea. If your kids are capable enough of doing it, you should let them. Giving assignments at home will help them become a better and more responsible person when they grow up. In the long run, they will be grateful that you have taught them about those things. 🙂

    • middlewaymom says:

      I agree! I think once they experience that they are a more capable adult, they will appreciate knowing how to care for themselves instead of learning the hard way at a later time!

  5. Pingback: Bridging the (Age) Gap | Middle Way Mom

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