Comments for Child Carer - The Unacknowledged Abused?

Click here to add your own comments

Jul 18, 2012
Elaine:
by: Darlene Barriere - Webmaster

It's been a while since I've had the pleasure of reading and posting one of your thought-provoking articles. I would add one other element to what goes on in the mind of the young carer: It is innate in children to believe the responsibility of their whole world is on their shoulders, and part of that is believing it is their job to ensure the family does not break apart, especially if the adult or child they are caring for could be removed from the family otherwise. As a result, they may try themselves to keep their role as carer secret.

Also, I'm not convinced that Dr. Brian Walsh's belief about personal growth and comfort zones can be applied so easily to children. Children do not have the same filters as adults. I'll concede that whether we're children or adults, we are constantly growing—some more than others—but children, especially young children, do not have the learned mental barriers, prejudices or attitudes that typically come from experience of having lived through the various ages and stages of life. Children often embrace their parents' views and teachings, not because they have determined them to be worthy of embracing, but rather, because they are still like little sponges. These views are often tossed aside as they become more mature and experience life on their own. As a result, children are far more flexible, and thus do not attach to a "comfort zone" in the same way as adults do. Of course, there are always exceptions. Just my own thoughts on the matter. Thank you for sharing your perspective with my visitors and me.

From Victim to Victory, a memoir
Darlene Barriere
Webmaster: www.child-abuse-effects.com
author. speaker. survivor. coach
From Victim to Victory, a memoir

Jul 20, 2012
Personal experience.
by: Skruff

Growing up I had a totally different experience.

My best friend (I will call him John, but that is not his real name) was a "child carer" his father was often not sober, and his mother was certifiably mad. John (I met him at age 10) had five brothers and a sister. He was the eldest. He started his day waking the younger children, making breakfast, getting them dressed, and getting them off to school.

I knew this boy for two years before I even met his parents. They lived in a run-down house on a poor side of a wealthy town. I remember getting up early so I could get to John's house and help him make breakfast.

John's siblings seemed happy and content, and the only thing which was strange is that the younger children treated this young boy as a parent. They would sit in the corner when they were told to, went to their room after just a mild reminder that they were misbehaving. and asked John what was for supper, and told him when their clothing needed replacement.

To this day I have no idea where the money for food and clothing came from. I don't know why no adults offered John any assistance. I do know that John was happy with and jealous of his responsibility.

This incident is from way back in the late 1950's and today C.P.S. would probably be right in the middle of any such situation, but John and all his siblings graduated from high school. they all got jobs, and four of them started their own families. That's a better record than the foster care system has. John went off to Vietnam in 1969 leaving his youngest sibling with my mother. I had left home by this time, and the boy took my room. John's parents were divorced in 1967, and both of them had found other partners and started new families by the time John left home.

John was wounded in Southeast Asia, and returned to a V.A. hospital in New Jersey. That is where I go visit him today. It is his claim that the time raising his siblings was the best and happiest time of his life. Personally I am glad I was able to share this time with him.



Jul 20, 2012
Thanks, Darlene
by: Elaine Ellis

Feedback! Now, that's the thing I love MOST about posting here - feedback. I get to hear other people's comments on what I say, gain their insight, share their perspectives. That's great. That's what I'd wanted. Even if I just provoke one reader to reflect, and to think, and to ponder over what I have said... that's wonderful.
I believe that we can all grow, and change, by reflection, by thinking things over, by taking on board new experiences, new points of view - new learning. So, I hope that somebody can learn from what I share; and I am grateful to be afforded the opportunity of learning from what others share with me. Thank you.
Darlene, you raise some important points. I'm sorry for not having explained myself very well, and glad you pointed it out. My link to Brian Walsh was meant to be in relation the the propensity of ADULTS to get stuck in a "comfort zone", and my desire to challenge this. Sorry if it came across as if I meant that children could behave this way, too. I totally agree that children are far more flexible in their outlook on the world. Because they are still growing, and developing, they have to be. I completely agree, too, with your "sponge" analogy, in that youngsters are very adept at soaking up knowledge like sponges - I firmly believe that young children soak up EVERYTHING around them, to a degree that many are not even aware of. They see and take on board much more than we believe them capable of. Thus, even tiny infants can feel the effects of domestic violence, bullying and abuse; at an age where they maybe do not even have the vocabulary to express this, yet.
However, I also believe that there comes an age where some youngsters begin to consciously make choices. Whereas the very young may soak up the notions that their parents try to instil in them; no matter how skewed, bigoted or inaccurate these ideologies and beliefs may be; I feel that with the teenage years comes for some children a time of "sorting the wheat from the chaff". Here, they decide whom they will identify with. They decide whether to wholly take on board the beliefs and teachings of their parents, or whether to completely reject them - or, more often, whether to compromise, accepting some, rejecting others. You are right to say that this is influenced by greater contact with the outside world, with peers, and through various life experiences in which parents do not participate.

Jul 25, 2012
Thanks for an interesting insight, Skruff...
by: Elaine Ellis

A fascinating, and different, perspective.
I don't doubt that there is a positive "up-side" to being a child carer. I recall some of my own feelings... Certainly, I felt at times that what I did made me "special". As a child, I wanted to please my parents, gain their approval and make them happy. I felt that by listening to my mum's woes, and by helping with housework, I was being a "good girl" - I was of use, benefiting my parents. I also felt that by letting mum confide her secrets and her issues in me (acting, I guess, as her "counsellor") I was somehow "precious" to her. I was performing a necessary and important function by listening to mum. She had nobody else on whom to "offload", so I filled the gap. This made me feel that I was "chosen", that mum had recognised something particular in me.
I'll admit that had I not been mum's "confidante", I would have had very little time and attention from my parents. They had their own issues. So, to stay in their "good books", and to fulfill MY need for attention from my parents, I stepped into the role of child carer. I recall a vague sense of wanting to "put things right" and of hoping that by helping mum, I might make her better.
Now, this is not to say that John's case was the same. But, I certainly feel that a child's desire to please their parents - to "make things good" - can be taken advantage of.
John was clearly a very organised, resourceful and resilient young man. There is a degree, perhaps, of precocity in all child carers. However, I do not feel that it is right for the system to make carers of children. It is not right to trust completely in their resilience, and to turn a blind eye to the negative effects of child caring.
Not all children are as hardy, resilient and able to cope as John. Perhaps the very fact that he went on to make a good career out of the Army, speaks volumes for a young man who thrived on being ordered, organised and well-disciplined. It is clear from what you say, Skruff, that John and all his siblings seem to have been tough, independent, and very mature young individuals, with a strong work ethic, and ability to concentrate their efforts on striving towards a better future for themselves.
But, I still think that child carers deserve support. I am not suggesting that they all be taken away from their homes, and fostered or adopted. NO, what I am suggesting is that they should be entitled to support to enable them to thrive at home - to better balance the caring role, with being a child.
Children ARE resilient. They are stronger than we think. But it is still not acceptable to trust to resilience alone.

Jul 25, 2012
Thank you Elaine Ellis
by: Skruff

I think (but do not know) that in John's case his siblings, and their well being, were his greatest concern. As I said, his parents were hardly visible, and I spent a lot of time over there including nights.

I surely agree that John could have used some support, a bit more financial help, and even (although I don't know if he would have taken it) some respite care.

For years he pushed a shopping cart two miles to get groceries home. He would push the cart again up to our house to do the laundry.

He didn't have a phone, and the gas and electric company would regularly shut off service until John could find one of his parents and make them go downtown to pay the utility bills.

He cut all his sibling's hair, washed all their clothes, and got the youngest one up every night so he wouldn't wet the bed.

I don't remember a time when supper was late, and John demanded that people who ate with him participated in a very Catholic blessing before eating. I remember it;

O thou who sustains our bodies hearts and souls, bless all received with thankfulness, In Jesus name we ask this.

Amen.

Click here to add your own comments

Join in and write your own page! It's easy to do. How? Simply click here to return to Child Abuse Article - Write one.

Return to Child Carer - The Unacknowledged Abused?

Disclaimer: To the best of my knowledge the child abuse
stories on this site are true. While I cannot guarantee
this, I do try to balance the need for the submitter to be
heard and validated with the needs of my visitors.



E-book: Victim To Victory

From Victim to Victory
a memoir

How I got over the devastating effects of child abuse and moved on with my life

Read more...

Most Recent

  1. The reasons I've been absent

    Nov 14, 17 01:30 PM

    It's been another challenging time for me. As I actively work toward an online program for survivors of sexual abuse, I've also had to deal with issues at home. Hubby has been diagnosed with 2 types o…

    Read More

  2. I Self Medicate

    Jun 26, 17 04:40 PM

    When I was 3 we left Illinois for Arizona. The day we left my grandfather had a heart attack and died. I have one uncomfortable grainy memory of him. I

    Read More

  3. Ongoing Abuse

    Jun 06, 17 03:03 PM

    I'm 15/16. I am still getting abused physically, mentally and verbally by my family especially my mother. I don't understand what to do to overcome this.

    Read More

E-book: Victim To Victory

From Victim to Victory
a memoir

How I got over the devastating effects of child abuse and moved on with my life

Read more...