Onyeka is a 16 year old from Orange Park, FL. She loves running, meeting new people, and reading. Onyeka loves making friendship bracelets, she one day hopes to become an entrepreneur and sports medicine physician.
“Pick it up!”
“You’re so annoying!”
One day as I was yelling these words to my younger siblings and I thought to myself, “Am I the only person who goes through this?” Then it dawned on me.
No, I can’t be.
Many factors may cause a teen to assume the role of a parent. A deceased parent, single parent home, parents that work full time, uncaring foster parents, even no parents at all. Whatever your situation may be we all have one thing in common: sacrifices.
Having two parents that work full time they expect me to step up and fill an authoritative position when they are gone— not just cooking and cleaning, but taking care of my four younger siblings. Becoming a figure of authority forces you to give up some of your normal teenage activities. Hanging out with friends, going to the game, or going to any social event is all sacrificed because I have to stay home and watch my younger siblings, to make sure they do their homework, eat, get them ready for bed etc. You’re forced to grow up and assume great responsibility because the well- being of your siblings is now in your hands.
Being an authoritative figure also makes you a role model. Your younger siblings look to you for guidance and protection, so you have to make sure your guiding them in the right direction also leading as an example. Sometimes it’s hard to cross the line from sibling to role model because you’re so used to being a sister or a brother you don’t know how to take control. Or in some cases the younger siblings don’t take you seriously. You can still be the boss and be their sister/brother, you just have to find the balance between the two.
Your younger siblings will annoy you, drive you crazy, and make you want to pull your hair out, but just Be Patient. Kids will be kids. It’s important that you remain calm—something that I’m still trying to learn.
If you’re reading this and you’re like, “Man, your life must suck!”, it’s not all bad. It teaches you responsibility and you build an even closer relationship with your siblings, because at the end of the day family is all you have.
Parents, don’t beat yourself up or feel guilty about the role your teen plays in their younger sibling’s lives, we as teens understand that life happens and you got to roll with the punches and adjust as necessary. But at the same time, don’t rely on us to do everything a parent does because, though we may fill that role, we will never be their parents. Not everyone may be able to relate to this article, but the few that can all I want you to know is that you are not alone.
Photo credit to Joelle Inge-Messerschmidt