This is a strange concept to me because my siblings and I are all within about two years of each other, so we very much grew up together. But as I’ve been keeping up with some of these other large families, I’ve realized that there are many children spread over many years. Parents are still having babies as their older children are graduating high school, going off to college, and starting families of their own. And while it may not be such a big deal to get stuck baby-sitting your younger siblings every time your parents want or need to go somewhere without kids, it does get old. It’s a serious hinder to one’s social life. The constant care, clean up, monitoring really forces some older kids to grow up quicker and miss out on many of the fun things in life that come from bonding with friends your own age. Now, in this case it’s a nuisance.
But sometimes kids are forced into this situation by more than just really fertile parents. As Heather Won Tesoriero mentions in her TIME Magazine article Families: Siblings Raising Siblings, about two million children in America are forced into care by older siblings due to the death (or other serious issues) of both parents. Check out some personal stories of how these ordinary people went from being siblings to parents. It can be very difficult, especially if there isn’t a huge age gap between the siblings. But it seems most logical to stay together and try to reform the family after disaster to the parents, despite the difficulties that come along with it.
The 90s FOX TV series “Party of Five” almost glamorized the notion of siblings learning to live and cope after the loss of their parents. The show follows a family of five kids (ages 24, 16, 15, 11, and 1) who struggle to make ends meet and end up facing the challenges of alcoholism, domestic abuse, and other issues that follow the loss of parental authority figures.
The law regarding sibling adoptions: When trying to adopt a younger sibling, the sibling attempting to assume the role of parent must be able to show that they are mature enough and their lives are stable enough to raise a child. You must also have a permanent residence and enough of an income to take care of yourself and your sibling(s). Courts and social workers will pay close attention to your lifestyle to determine if you are fit to be a parent. You should be prepared to answer questions like these: Who will watch your sibling while you’re at work? How will you respond to your sibling, if they defy you? What kind of discipline will you implement as head of the household? etc. These kinds of questions are meant to assess your maturity level and parenting capabilities. Laws on adoptions vary from state to state, so try to contact a lawyer that specializes in child custody cases to increase the chances of keeping your family together.