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  • Writer's pictureKirk

Children Raising Children

One of the things I experienced in the children's home in India is the nurturing nature of children towards other children. When the adult to child ratio is so small, by de facto older children will step into the role.

I've read about this before even here in the USA. In cases where the parent is abusive or neglectful, an older child will care for the younger sibling. I've even seen it it to a smaller extent when I was working as a guardian ad litem as an advocate for children in the court system. It was always the same story, the father out of the picture and the mother hooked on meth. And the children neglected.

In one of my cases it was a set of sisters for whom I was an advocate. I could see that nurturing nature of the older 10 year old to her 8 year old sister. It made me so sad to visit them as I could see the desire that both had for an adult parent, even calling me daddy when I visited. But I hated the attachment because I knew it would end and they would just have another adult figure leave their lives.

But I saw it on a much larger scale in India. I saw children raising children to a large extent. I would guess their adult interaction, (outside of school where a teacher is present), is in the single digit percentages. When it's bedtime no adult is tucking them in to say goodnight. So often I saw the older children filling the role of the adult:

Mostly I saw it in my interactions outside where the kids were at play. They took on the roles of both teachers and nurturer. Kids as young as even 7 and 8 years old would play the role. It was both a joy and a heartbreak to watch:

This young girl, I hate I forgot her name, was the most gregarious of all of them. When I was there she always craved attention. She was always near me and grabbing my arm. Often not saying anything but always smiling.

Even though she didn't get all the attention she craved, she was willing to offer it to others. Her mothering attitude at her young age was apparent.

As you can tell from my posts, I try to be an advocate to children in small ways. Not only here but abroad as much as possible. I don't post this for my own glory, but more to the awareness of the worldwide issue we have.

Child neglect takes many forms. The effects of it in their formative years will last a lifetime and mold them into the adults they become. The kindness and love we can show in these circumstances can make the world a better future place as they come of age.

Children who know neglect often try to mitigate the damage to children even younger than them. Playing the role of an adult before their time. Children raising children.

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