Rabbi Ross. I have six children ranging in ages from 17 through 5. Frequently, I need to ask the older ones to watch the younger ones since my husband and I both work. My older kids constantly complain that they should not have to watch their siblings. Since they’re living in my house, and they are my kids, I don’t agree. We decided to ask and follow your opinion since we read your articles every week. Thank you in advance. Esther - Flatbush
Thank you for your vote of confidence. However, I’m not that comfortable being a decision maker; these articles are designed to assist, not replace, your parenting. Nonetheless, I have seen this question many times over the past few months, so we’ll try to figure out a solution.
There are many parents who believe that the older children should certainly be expected to help out with watching the younger siblings. Many parents feel that it is only fair for them to help out as a way of returning the favor to their parents for having raised them. Additionally, helping out with watching younger siblings is a simple matter of Kibbud Av V’aim. I have a few concerns with those parents who rely on those rationales:
Additionally, it is okay and certainly a good idea to let your children know that a family is like a team, where everyone pitches in. Being part of a family means that we are all responsible to help out and be there for one another. However, the parents should be acting as the “Captains”, so to speak, in which they are the ones to most often take charge and show responsibility for all.
Remember, the phrase “Mom knows best”, is kind of true. If you get the feeling that your kids don’t want to help with the siblings, never force it. It’s cheaper to hire a babysitter than to spend thousands of dollars on family counseling.
Something else to think about, is that your second-to-oldest might be better than your oldest at watching the younger ones. This is somewhat typical, and it’s what I like to call the “Firstborn Mentality.” It would not be a good idea to even verbalize this. You can simply compliment the one helping out, and mention “Everyone has different talents, you are really great with your siblings!”
Additionally, it’s important to give special time to the older kids. Remind them that the reason that they are being treated as adults is because they have proven that they are mature, amazing, older siblings. It is also so important that you express to your children how much you appreciate their help. Don’t assume that they know how much they are appreciated and valued.
B”eH ,may we continue to Shep Nachas from all of our children.
Have a good Shabbos!
8/4/2016 08:44:22 pm
I finally made it into an article. Jk. Unfortunately, many parents are guilty of this. Well written as usual.
8/4/2016 08:46:02 pm
Heartbreaking to read about my childhood. Just help out already my mother would say. I would scream back, they're not my kids! I still resent my younger siblings. :-( I guess it's a great article for the 9 days. Made me sad.
8/4/2016 08:48:30 pm
Younger siblings also hate this. It's a horrible feeling being babysat by a sibling who is so unhappy to be watching you.
8/4/2016 10:20:57 pm
Great Point! I didn't even think of this.
8/4/2016 08:51:33 pm
I really read comments. This article brought up painful memories. Many good points. Don't befriend your kids; they're not your friends!
8/4/2016 10:21:33 pm
More on this in a different article. :-)
8/4/2016 09:13:57 pm
What an interesting question. It's funny that you don't want to get involved... I agree. I read the articles for ideas. I'm still the parent.
8/4/2016 09:50:20 pm
This is another topic that's shoved under the rug by many families. Yet, you decide to go for it. Awesome. Parents, if you decide to have a lot of kids, don't turn the older ones into mini parents.
8/4/2016 09:59:00 pm
I am forwarding to my older sister. We used to joke that we were the parents. I don't have the guts to send to my mother.
8/4/2016 10:03:26 pm
Rabbi Ross. I know you mean well, but these articles, and I mean ALL of them, are not good. You seem to think you know what you're talking about, yet, I disagree with so many of your articles. Just because a few people compliment you every week does not mean you're correct.
8/4/2016 10:12:29 pm
What a hurtful comment. I thought these were being moderated! Whoever you are, I and many others disagree. These articles help me every week, and my husband and I gain tremendously. If you don't like them, don't read them!
8/4/2016 10:20:21 pm
I will not allow any more rebuttals. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. I am a bit confused why you read these articles if you don't like them. I approved this only because this person kept commenting so I decided to let one through.
8/4/2016 10:14:33 pm
Two small corrections. One, Rabbi Ross is not Lovee Dovee, he is strict and seems to imply that there needs to be a blend.
8/4/2016 10:40:29 pm
Wonderful article. I read it many times because it was so meaningful. We do need to keep in mind that parents were less "thought out" back then. Also, not a rebuttal, but why not remove this person above from your email list?
8/4/2016 10:43:13 pm
Many great points! Thank you for your time!
8/4/2016 11:18:05 pm
The picture said it all. Affordable babysitting. That's what this is about. As you wrote, it's not worth the discount - hire a real babysitter for any extended periods.
8/5/2016 07:05:53 am
It's funny, when I read the article about siblings, I wondered if you realized that there can be really bad blood sometimes. After reading this week's article, I see that you will have an article about it. Looking forward.
8/5/2016 07:07:32 am
You touched on this a little, but comparing you kids is never smart, but telling your older kids that the younger ones do a better job is parenting suicide. Wonderful email as usual.
8/5/2016 07:40:11 am
Thanks for putting these articles in the 5TJT. I no longer have to print the out although they're a week behind. Yasher Koach!
8/5/2016 07:42:47 am
Hi. I am disappointed that you allowed that hateful comment earlier. Although I am sure that person is just bitter about life, some of us read the comments to view other ideas and thoughts. I can't stand the typical negativity about comments sections. Thank you for these amazing emails.
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Rabbi Yitzie Ross is a Rebbe and has been working with parents and kids for many years. You can read more about him in the "about" section.