The structure of the “normal” family is changing. More single parents are supporting families. In two parent homes, both parents often work just to make ends meet. The health care crisis of the country has made it harder to afford quality, long-term care for the elderly. Families often consist of several generations living under one roof. This changing structure has led to a new role for older children. This role is as a caregiver, usually to a disabled, injured or ill parent, grandparent or sibling. Many children from middle school through high school find themselves having to care for someone on a regular basis.
The thought of children as caregivers might make some shudder in dismay. After all, children should only have to be children, right? Although that is true, for some families, there is no other alternative than to turn to older children for help. While many children suffer from the added responsibility, experiencing depression and falling grades, others flourish from the role of caregiver. Yet when children find themselves in caregiver roles, above all they need support.