To think it's unfair to expect one DC to take responsibility for another?

(59 Posts)
Fluffy24 Sat 05-Sep-15 15:28:34

I see a fair number of threads asking about 'are my DC old enough to...'

There then often follows an explanation of the ages of both DC and either the OP or others suggesting that because DC1 is xx years old it's ok.

Is it only me (who was an elder DC by about 5 years) who thinks this is really unfair on the older child (who, on their own may well be able to do whatever it is) because of the responsibility it places on them, often when they don't have the necessary authority to support it?

My view is that if both children are old enough (or whatever measure of suitability for the task is appropriate) then it's fine, but if one child wouldn't be deemed suitable to do something without the other sibling then it's not on.

AIBU?

SilverBirchWithout Sat 05-Sep-15 15:31:46

Yes you are BU

RainbowFlutterby Sat 05-Sep-15 15:33:20

I think I know what you mean, and I think yanbu. It always makes me cross when my friend has a go at her oldest daughter for not watching the others. WATCH THEM YOURSELF!!! And breeeeathe...

Fatmomma99 Sat 05-Sep-15 15:33:42

I totally agree, and haven't posted on the thread about the children going to school on their own because I feel so strongly.

Not only is it unfair on a day-to-day basis, but what happens if s/thing goes wrong (minor and major)?

(having said that, short term, non risky emergencies are fine, but should always be appropriate to age and stage IMO).

Spartans Sat 05-Sep-15 15:35:52

yanbu, in my opinion.

I don't leave my kids in the house alone together even though there is a big gap. I don't feel right making my younger ds her responsibility. They will be left in alone together when both are old enough to look after themseleves.

The oldest stays in by herself for short periods of time, but I wouldn't leave ds with her.

Some people may think their oldest is capable of it though. So even though I wouldn't do it until ds is old enough to look after himself. Other people know their kids better and, hopefully, most parents would consider if the older one is responsible enough or if it's too much

HamaTime Sat 05-Sep-15 15:36:35

I let my younger children go to the park etc at a younger age than the eldest if he was with them. The alternative would be for him to either stay in with sibs or go to the park alone.

My eldest bro used to babysit us as kids, which he would have preferred to having to have a babysitter who was only 2 years older than us coming to boss him around. He seemed fine with it.

OTOH, my friend has a big gap between her 1st and 2nd and her eldest does an awful lot at the expense of her own social life. I think it's different saying 'if you are in on Friday can you look after X so I can go out' and saying either 'you have to stay in on Friday to look after X' or 'Sally from your year is coming around on Friday to babysit you and X - be good for her'

LordEmsworth Sat 05-Sep-15 15:38:40

I was also the eldest and I wholeheartedly agree with you! Having no authority over them but being held responsible for their behaviour is never easy, even as an adult let alone a 10 year old. Not fair to make the eldest child your babysitter...

Hamiltoes Sat 05-Sep-15 15:41:07

Disagree completely, but then I practically raised my brother while I was a young teenager because my mum wasn't capable at the time.

Its called being a family, and looking out for eachother. If when my DD is deemed mentally old enough to prepare dinner for her younger sis because I have to work late, then thats what she'll do. She's almost 5 and has stopped her younger sister from falling over etc on many occasions. She'll also keep an eye out for her while I start the bath running or load the washing machine and does a bloody good job of it too!

I don't think thats going to leave her with any long term issues, unless theres another reason I'm missing why you're against this hmm

Goldmandra Sat 05-Sep-15 15:46:45

Six year age gap here and the older one is a very useful babysitter.

She's also a good cook and kitchen/bathroom cleaner and gets to the bottom of the ironing basket for me now and then.

The younger one is great at emptying the dishwasher, vacuuming and putting clean washing away. It's also her job to empty the recycling and keep the toilet roll holder stocked.

Why shouldn't children have responsibilities?

ChristineDePisan Sat 05-Sep-15 15:50:42

I think part of being a family is looking out for each other and helping each other. I found myself doing a Peggy Mitchell impression the other day when DS was complaining about helping DD tidy up the lounge before bedtime, saying he had only made a third of the mess so should only have to tidy up a third of the room and why should he do more to help his sister. "Because she's family!"

I don't think that older children should always assume responsibility for the younger ones, but on occasion I don't see a problem.

poocatcherchampion Sat 05-Sep-15 15:53:34

I was just about to send my 3 yo up to get the 2 yo out of bed and take off her nappy. Hmmm.

I thought it would be good practice for them for when I've got a newborn asleep on me in a few weeks.

They would love it!

RainbowFlutterby Sat 05-Sep-15 15:57:32

It's when it goes beyond "helping" and "looking out for each other".

I was chatting to a friend in the park, when her youngest comes over wailing with a banged head. This was apparently her oldest daughter's fault for not watching. And I think that that is wrong.

googoodolly Sat 05-Sep-15 16:00:06

It depends on the age of the older child. Most 11+ year olds are capable of looking after siblings for a short time, but I think when both DC are under 10 it's a bit unfair on the older child to have to take responsibility for a smaller sibling.

Junosmum Sat 05-Sep-15 16:03:29

I agree. I was 6 years older than my siblings and often got in trouble for 'letting' them do something, when in fact I had no control or authority over them.

AgentZigzag Sat 05-Sep-15 16:08:55

There's a 9 year gap between my DDs (5 and 14 YO) and even though I was babysitting children younger than 5 when I was 14, there's no way I'd go out and leave DD1 on her own with DD2 just because of the way they are with each other (ie DD1 regresses to behaving like a 5 YO grin ).

That fits with the advice that's usually given on the 'are my DC old enough to do blah' threads, that it's much more about what the DC are like rather than a specific age.

It also depends on what the reason for it is too. Me leaving them alone while I fuck off out on the lash isn't the same as leaving them because I have to work an hour after school ends, even though it'd be with the same DC.

I think it's reasonable to ask older siblings to do some things just because they're part of the same family, but it's maybe not OK to regularly rely on them to be free childcare for long periods of time (unless there are other reasons for it, like being a carer when there are no other options).

Lurkedforever1 Sat 05-Sep-15 16:11:08

Depends on the situation. There's a big difference between accompanying a well behaved younger sibling somewhere the elder is already going, or an older teen being home anyway and therefore on hand just incase an 11yr old has a problem, and using older kids as childcare. And in some cases it can just be an alternative to the usual helping round the house. My friends older dd used to watch well behaved siblings for short spells, as an alternative to the usual washing up etc most teens are expected to do as a contribution.

BlanketsAndBiscuits Sat 05-Sep-15 16:18:42

Its all in context really.
Im the eldest of six of us and when I was a teenager I had to look after the younger ones. No question of if I needed to do homework, or you know, have a social life, I had to be home watching and supervising them (ages ranging from 11mo-9) as well as feed, bath them all and clean up.
Fucking glad to move out when I was 16

AcrossthePond55 Sat 05-Sep-15 16:28:07

YANBU. If I had to do it again, I wouldn't have made my eldest responsible for looking after his brother during school holidays. It's only in retrospect that I see how he was restricted from going places and doing things with his own friends or always having to drag his little brother along.

I feel bad that he never said anything to us.

Spartans Sat 05-Sep-15 16:32:27

There is a big difference between children helping out, looking out for their sibling, doing jobs around the house etc and children being responsible for their siblings.

dd cleans bathrooms, helps with washing etc. she has responsibilities. She also is always watching for ds, often gets up puts him back to bed if he wakes up (her room is next to his) and even takes him in bed with her if he won't settle.

However I don't expect it of her, she knows she doesn't have to do these things. She chooses to because that's her brother.

She used to help change his nappies, or do bottles etc. again out of choice not because we made it her job.

Ds likes to get df out of bed on a morning. She sleeps later than him and he likes to be the one to wake her up. If she isn't up on time or ignores him, he doesn't get in trouble for it. That's our and her responsibility, not ds'

Indantherene Sat 05-Sep-15 16:33:14

I can remember being shouted at for something my DB did because I should have been watching him. He is 2 years younger than me.

I never expected any of my children to watch the younger ones, because it isn't fair, even though it would have made my life easier.

I do now but ask first and it's a bit different leaving a 23 - 29 yo to look after an 8 yo smile

PurpleSkyatthewateringhole Sat 05-Sep-15 16:42:51

I think you are a BU. I was the elder by a mere 15months. Yet it was still my fault if my younger dsis made any kind of mistake.

ArendelleQueen Sat 05-Sep-15 16:54:39

YABU to make that blanket statement. My sister is 3 years younger than me and I remember being so excited when I was old enough to babysit her. I felt really grown up and took my role very seriously. It was only a few times a month when my mum went out but I relished it and I got a fiver. grin

My DD is 14 and she has started to babysit DS who is 7. I put him to bed and he wouldn't get up under normal circumstances, so there's no pressure. She's very responsible and seems to enjoy the quiet of the house in the evening. I think it's important that she learns give and take. I do extra things for her to help her because I love her and because it's kind. She does the same in return. We're out tonight and she told DS that he could stay up later than usual and she'll put him to bed which I thought was really sweet because she can be a bit disinterested in him which makes him feel miffed.

AuntieStella Sat 05-Sep-15 17:07:33

Unless there is a big age gap, so that DC1 is way older than the littler one/s and perhaps of an age to babysit for another family, then YADNBU.

I really don't think it works to put one of a sibling set in any form of 'authority' over the others. Not fair either to the one with the (unasked for) responsibility, nor to the smaller ones who are subordinated.

I would always wait until the youngest one was suitable for being home alone or whatever. And then they are all responsible to the same level.

nooka Sat 05-Sep-15 17:09:11

I'm the youngest in my family and my older sisters and brother were often in charge of me. As far as I recall from other larger families that was totally normal. As I recall I mostly did what I was told, and they certainly felt they had authority over me. We all also babysat for younger cousins.

We had a lot of freedom growing up, and the rules you are suggesting would just have meant I was excluded from all the fun things my older brother and sisters got up to. Of course there were times they didn't want me and I don't think my parents made them take me too. I don't recall it being an issue with my cousins family either, where I was one of the big ones instead of the littlest.

My two are very close in age so it's a bit irrelevant for them as I don't tell the older one he is in charge.

NotMeNotYouNotAnyone Sat 05-Sep-15 17:09:29

Depends on the personalities of the dc and their relationship. It will work in some families but not in others. Some kids love mothering younger children, others can't stand it.

No child should be forced to care for siblings on a regular basis, but for some families it's the only option, other than parent not being able to work to feed all the dc.

I don't think older dc should be looking after siblings unless it can't be avoided. Whether that's because otherwise parent can't work or because of an emergency or short term situation. Not just so parents can go to the pub/gym/out etc

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