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Is your older child responsible for your younger child?

there is a family that lives a few houses down from me, with an infant, a 1 year old and an 8 year old. i never see the 1 year old with the parents. everytime i see them, the 8 year old is outside and the 1 year old is with her. she is really good with her, she does watch her, but sometimes the little one doesnt want to listen to her and (imo) its unfair that the 8 year old has to stop playing with her friends to tend to her little sister. where the hell are the parents? i would never trust a child that age to be responsible for a toddler, ESPECIALLY outside without adult supervision! she told me tonight that they always make her watch her, and its true because ive seen it. you have a kid, take care of it your damn self! can anyone explain the stupidity of this? is the 8 year old going to be punished if god forbid something happens to the little one while they were outside?


Asked by tnm786 at 7:25 PM on Mar. 18, 2013 in Parenting Debate

Level 43 (159,608 Credits)
This question is closed.
Answers (19)
  • Never to that extreme. Sometimes when they're outside playing I'll have the older one in charge, or if we're in a public place and they need to use the restroom, I'll have the older DS take the younger DS into the men's room. My boys are 8 and 11.

    Answer by Ginger0104 at 7:37 PM on Mar. 18, 2013

  • The 8 year old has told you that she is made to do this and than they go away from the home alone too, so I would go ahead and make a call to CPS.

    Answer by virginiamama71 at 7:41 PM on Mar. 18, 2013

  • My 11 yr old is sometimes responsible for my 9 yr old in the sense of when they are going around the block on their bikes, he has to go at a speed his brother can keep up with, he has to not leave his brother behind and if something were to happen to his brother (say a fall that leads to injury) help him get home. But he's not responsible in the sense that I would blame him for something happening to his brother or that he has to care for him all the time. Or, for example, if we're out somewhere, he'll have to take his brother to the bathroom and wait for him - because I technically can't go in the men's room (though I would if it were absolutely necessary). What you describe, though, is not something I would ever expect of either of my kids. It's my job to watch them, I'm the mom.

    Answer by wendythewriter at 7:51 PM on Mar. 18, 2013

  • I'd need more info. I think older siblings can certainly help out. I think 1 is too young to send outside without an adult but then again, is the yard fenced, can the parent see outside or hear outside, etc? I have boys and my they play together and the older ones do help keep the younger ones occupied. To me, that's just part of the cards they were dealt as older kids. I think it's healthy for the whole family. But, since mine are boys they aren't as responsible as a girl might be.

    Answer by HHx5 at 9:26 PM on Mar. 18, 2013

  • I would be the first to say that families need to work as a team, and I don't have a problem with older siblings helping out with the housework and their younger siblings.

    That said, the situation you are describing is dangerous. That baby could get hit by a car in a split second, and no matter how mature and responsible the 8 year old is, they do not have the judgement reaction time, and and physical capabilities of an adult.

    Answer by Mom-2-3-Girlz at 10:00 PM on Mar. 18, 2013

  • Only on rare occasions. Or school schedule is all sorts of fucked up. Most Friday's the kids get out at 1:30 instead of 3:30. On those days, when my daughter goes to school too (half day kindergarten alternate Friday attendance), I tell them to stay together while walking home. Neither one is in charge, they just need to stay together and look out for each other.

    I think it's horrible that an older child is responsible for a younger one. It's NOT FAIR to the older one. My best friend in high school got a surprise younger brother when we were about 12 or so. Her parents expected her to raise him. She hated it. It was sad at the mall. People thought the baby was hers and didn't believe her when she'd say it was her brother.

    Answer by Rosehawk at 12:04 AM on Mar. 19, 2013

  • i do know their situation- lol they live a few houses down. i know that they don't work two jobs because one of the parents stays home, and the other is home every evening. and she is completely responsible, its more than "hanging out" with her sibling. she doesnt want to have to be responsible for her everytime she goes outside. she wants her own childhood as well....

    Comment by tnm786 (original poster) at 8:07 AM on Mar. 19, 2013

  • To answer the question sometimes she does, but my oldest is fifteen and she doesn't take them outside. If my kids are outdoors I'm not far behind an my daughter does help out

    Answer by 2autisticsmom at 9:08 AM on Mar. 19, 2013

  • No, it is not the older sibling responsibility at all times to watch younger brother or sister. I do believe that when they are together, the older should protect in such environments. But as always the older gets to do more because they the older and the younger one as myself always have to go in early or be watched. I do believe that if I was a big brother or sister, yes, I would stand up for them and protect them. Parents have to watch their children step by step and day by day. The only thing is that the older one can do more and wants to hang out with their friends. They love their brother and sister but don't want to watch them all the time. But hey, that is life when your the oldest. Parents have to do their part as well in watching each child.

    Answer by meme0926 at 10:57 AM on Mar. 20, 2013