Siblings Should Care for Younger vs Parents Made the Babiesso Should Raise Them

Updated on February 07, 2011
S.S. asks from Niagara Falls, NY
20 answers

How much help should older, teen siblings be doing with your kids? Free babysitting? How often?

I think they can occasionally help out but that parents chose to have the kid so parents should be responsible for the kids. Let kids be kids. I don't think teens should have to babysit while studying, especially AP college classes.

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answers from Modesto on

Siblings should not be forced to raise the kids. Watching them now and then is pretty normal tho, siblings should care enough about pitching in on occasion. But for a parent to make an older sibling responsible for the youngers ALL the time, NO-- that is just so unfair and wrong. If it's a temp thing because something is affecting the family unit tho, family does need to step up and help out.
Should big sis raise the kids? NO. Should big sis help out now and then? Yep. It's good education, no different than helping cook in the kitchen. It gives you some adult skills and its a great birth control teacher.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Dover on

I completely agree. Exactly how much help depends on the family situation. Teens should be teens and if responsible enough not to become teen parents they shouldn't have to raise children.

4 moms found this helpful

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answers from San Francisco on

Wow. I'm surprised that so many of us think so positively about this. I believe in families working together and doing things that need to be done including some free babysitting here and there. I do not believe, however, that parents should have more kids while planning for the existing kids to do the parenting. I think parents should keep the responsibility of the raising the children and the continual childcare with the parents. I think it is unfair when the parents choose to have many kids knowing that they will put the kids to work in this way. A long time ago, things were very different. Many families had so many children due to lack of or disbelief in birth control. Children were often created to help with the family's farm or business. We have evolved from there. I think kids have a right to a childhood and should get to reserve the job of parenting for when they choose to become parents!

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Chattanooga on

My high school daughter is expected to watch her younger sibling for free when I have to make short trips to the grocery store, doctor's appt, etc. (although she is usually rewarded with something). If my husband and I are going on a date, etc or are going to be gone for more than an hour or so, we definitely pay her as we would pay another babysitter if we only had one young child. It's not her fault she was born first!

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Abilene on

I know a family where the teenaged daughter was asked to keep an eye on the two year old sibling while Mom ran to the store. The teenaged daughter got a phone call and lost track of the two year old who wound up in the bottom of their pool. The family was destroyed. People never think things like that will happen to them. I'm sure this family didn't either.

There are 13 years between my oldest and my next daughter. My oldest daughter doesn't live at home now (she's 24) but while she did, I never asked her to watch her baby sister. I wanted her to be the sister, not the caretaker. She loved her baby sister, loved showing her off to all her friends and played with her, bathed her, etc., helped with her as much as she wanted to (but never changed a diaper :) If something happened to our baby, even if it wasn't as serious as what happened above, I don't think it's fair to put that responsibility on a teenaged kid.

Just a different perspective.


4 moms found this helpful


answers from Columbus on

I think older siblings should watch younger ones. Families are just that, families and should operate as a unit. Everyone contributes. It shouldn't be a part time job for them, but I think that they should help regularly. My older brothers watched me when I was younger and I watched my younger sister when I was old enough to.

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answers from Stockton on

I have the "luxury" of having three teens and a 4yo so I live this scenario. I do try to not take advantage of having "live in" babysitters but I do call on them to help me out. If I have a doctor appointment I tell them I need them to watch their little brother, same with trips to the grocery store. If my husband and I want a night out however, I do ask them to watch their brother and if we have the means at the time, I will pay them -they work cheaper than a hired sitter ;) . If my kids already have plans I NEVER make them cancel theirs in order for me to keep mine, that wouldn't be right. We are family, we all pitch in.
Edit: I would never let it impact my older kids school work!

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Atlanta on

Me either! I see nothing wrong with having some occasional sitting or help with younger siblings required as being part of a household, but it shouldn't cut into study time or time the teens would be spending on extra-curricular activities or simply hanging out with their friends. If parents want to have a bunch of kids, then THEY need to care for them or hire someone to do so. If teens want to care for children, they have their future adult years to have as many as they want, and they can babysit for money as teenagers if they want. I have seen far too many households where the teenager is basically told to skip practices or that she can't go out with friends simply because the parents are too cheap and selfish to hire a babysitter, so they make her do it.

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answers from Stationed Overseas on

Depends on what's going on in the family. Do the parents need help? Are they or any of the children disabled? On the flip side it would teach responsiblity to the teen and that is something a lot of teens are lacking these days. My personal story, my 20 year old sister had a baby when I was 16. She bailed on being a parent and it fell to me because I had the most flexible schedule. My parents helped out financially but it was me raising my niece. It taught me a lot of different things. Responsibility, how to manage my time, caring for another person, sacrifices, responsibility with sex being the most important. I managed to graduate from HS, be active in many sports & clubs, get into a good college (my brother took over raising my niece) and still have a wonderful relationship with my niece.
So yes, I think teens should help out with siblings. Just because they are studying doesn't give them a free pass from other responsibilities.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

school should be more important, but sometimes family circumstances dictate that older siblings help with younger siblings. It's family, not strangers living in the same house.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

This is an interesting question, in part because the media tends to show some pretty prominent families which feel very comfortable having their oldest raise their youngest. And some people agree with this idea.

Like any other aspect of parenting, I think this requires some thoughtfulness and balance. Some older children really aren't suited (temperamentally or otherwise) to be babysitting younger siblings. I also believe that academic studies and meaningful pursuits need to be honored and have some priority. (This means music lessons, community volunteering, etc. as well as teacher-assigned work and studying for tests.) Some teens tend to feel overwhelmed, and adding 'babysitting service' to their to-do list can make things harder.

I do agree wholeheartedly that parents who have children need to be their primary caregiver (unless there's some tragedy involved, where a significantly older sibling takes it upon themselves to care for the younger ones). I don't understand the idea that one can foist the children they made the choice to have off on their older children. The parent made the decision to have those younger children; the older child did not!

I have only one child, so I'll say that if I had this situation, I'd likely find some way to barter/compensate the older child. Perhaps an exchange of time (teen wants mom to help with driving them to events or the mall, Mom banks that time spent driving into a babysitting account to be used on a non-school night); an exchange of favors (teen watches younger siblings in exchange for a "credit" on the family Netflix account or tickets to an event) or just cash, and then pay the one's own teen what you would pay an outside sitter. Checking in, too, to see what's on our teen's 'plate' in terms of responsibilities is important. Teens are often stressed enough as it is.:)

By the way, I'm not talking about "watch your sister while I run to the store" and being gone for a short time, I'm talking about parents going out on dates or 'fun' stuff. Family does have to pull together for the daily basics, but when the parents are out to play, and would have to normally pay a sitter, then that's a good time to compensate the teen, or ask if they are/aren't available, and get the sitter anyway!

On a more personal note, when I was a senior in high school, I had to quit drama activities so that I could work after school. It was all I could do to get my homework done. Our mother was often gone at night to her boyfriend's, and didn't return until morning, and so it was my sister's and my responsibility to be the nighttime parents of our little brother, who was eight years my junior. (This meant tending to nightmares, illness, etc.) Suffice it to say, while we loved our brother very much, we were (and I believe my sister is still) deeply resentful that Mom got to go play while we had to stay home and take care of little bro. This is why I think balance is so important.


3 moms found this helpful


answers from Lincoln on

A family is made up of many members who must all work together to make the family work. Its not "Mom and Dad take care of kids", its "Family takes care of family".
My older boys do a lot to help care for their siblings. They "babysit" whenever I need them to and are never paid. We don't call it "babysitting" we call it helping. Sometimes dad and mom can't be home so siblings must step in and help.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Austin on

I helped care for my sister (5 years younger) almost daily, because my mom was a single divorced parent. I made sure she behaved, worked on homework and started dinner for all of us, drove her to school once I was driving, but my mom was also pretty good about allowing me to go out when I asked, she would give me some money to spend.. etc.. So I never felt like I was being taken advantage of.

When I was 13, I started taking care of her for the summer, the next year I also took care of 2 nephews.. Like my own summer camp. I was paid for it, so it was a great experience..

2 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

I think it is important to think of the family as a unit - helping each other - without each person, the family cannot thrive. It isn't good for teenagers to be simply self absorbed - it is good for them to have other responsibilities - not out of guilt or anger - just as a matter of fact. So, yes, weekly babysitting is a great idea - the younger kids go down to bed by 8pm anyways - so the teen can study for 3 more hours while you two enjoy an evening out.

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answers from Augusta on

Older siblings should always care for and watch their younger siblings when they are needed to. They are family that's how families work.
I am the oldest of 5 and they are all at least 9 yrs younger than I am so needless to say I did a lot of free babysitting. It's part of being the older child.
100 yrs ago older children did much more than just babysit their siblings every few days. They helped raise the younger ones.

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answers from New York on

I've know cases where the older child is more of a parent than the parent this is sad, but it made the siblings close and convinced the older girl to be Very careful-she will not get pregnant by accident because she knows what a responsibility babies are. As far as helping and babysitting it is great for an older child to learn to budget her time between school and other and great for siblings to be close.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from New York on

Occassional running to store, out for an hour thing, yes of course. Not more than that though, because they are teenagers and as much as we preach we don't want teen moms or dads, lots of those kids have said, "well I had to "raise" my younger sibs, so no biggie having my own", yikes. Anyway I grew up with family friends that had 6 kids. They expected their older daughter to watch, pick up, do homework and cook for the younger ones, as both parents worked, and some cultures do think this is acceptable. Well she is a grown woman now, NO kids and won't have any because she felt over whelmed so much, that she didn't want it in her adult life.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from New York on

I agree with your stance. If there was an unforseen event - ie: father walks out on the mother and doesn't pay child support so the mother is desperate, that's different. But I don't think the decision to have another child should ever be predicated on the thought that the older one or ones will do much of the work. And parents shouldn't let themselves fall into an easy escape of turning to the teenager all the time. I have a friend who had to do so much as a kid at home that now she doesn't speak to her mother at all.



answers from Washington DC on

I was 15 when my mom had another baby. We didn't do many after school activities because that was when the baby was sleeping, and she didn't want to have to wake him up to come get us. We were asked to babysit occassionally so that they could go out to dinner or a party. We were expected to help fix bottles and change diapers, but for the most part we were allowed to be teens and not live in baby sitters.




answers from New York on

I don't have this situation (and am not likely to in future since I had my kids late). But I did babysit for for other families for pay at least 2 nights a week all through high school. It was probably at least 10-12 hours a week on average. I still managed to take 5 AP classes my senior year and do other activities.

I think that if parents take the role of parents and ask teens for some help that is just part of being a family. Occasional babysitting or compensated babysitting is not taking advantage. If it is a planned event then the teenager deserves advanced notice and the opportunity to say no if they have a conflict.

My mom is the oldest of 5 and my MIL is the oldest of 7 and both were well prepared to be parents when the time came (although they both had only 2 children each). I learned a lot from babysitting and it helped me as a parent and in some of my first jobs.

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