Responsibilities of Older Kids in Big Families


Excerpt taken from Chapter Three of Mothering Many:

How do the older children feel about taking on so much responsibility with managing younger siblings, and how do the younger ones feel about having to obey the older ones?

  • Some love it, but others don’t and view responsibility as a chore. I have tried the Buddy System, but right now it isn’t working very well in our house. I don’t want to force it, because it only causes sibling rivalry, so I don’t require them to help their buddy at the moment. I would like to change that, but I need to see heart changes first. I would love to have everyone paired up with a buddy eventually, but I don’t know if that will ever work for our family.—Tina
  • My older ones seem to take pride in helping out the little ones. I’ve also learned to be mindful that when I have a job to give out, I give it to the youngest one capable of doing it. This really helps to prevent “oldest child burnout” as the more complex jobs get saved for the older ones and the littler ones feel important doing the easier and more mundane jobs.—Sarah

Editor’s Note: What a great idea to assign tasks to the youngest child possible! I’m sure my oldest is thankful I’ve been implementing it!

  • It is part of the privilege of belonging to a large family. You help one another. But I try to be careful not to “expect” too much. I try to encourage them that it helps me when they help with the younger children. Occasionally, when I sense a bit of whining, I’ll simply say, “It’s all right. I’ll do it myself.” This usually seems to take care of things pretty quickly. Let the Holy Spirit do the work. Just be careful not to come across as miffed.—Karina
  • We have “indoctrinated” our children that we must all work together for the well-being of our family. Everybody must do their part. Our oldest two daughters are now 21 and 22. They have always been my right-hand helpers, and much responsibility fell on them when I was pregnant with another, or recovering from a birth. We have managed to convince the children that another brother or sister is positive, although there is more work. Our family verse is “Whatsoever your hand findeth to do, do it with all of your might as working for the Lord, not for men.” Perhaps because of this, our eldest daughters seem to be the favorites of their bosses in the workplace!—Karol

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