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chiccy

Dear Prudence

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chiccy

From a recent edition of Slate's awesome Dear Prudence advice column:

 

 

Quote
Q: Too Many Siblings: I'm a freshman in college about three hours from my parents. I have 10 younger siblings—three biological and seven adopted from the foster care system. My parents are doing a wonderful service to these children in providing them with a warm, loving home. However, as the oldest child, a lot of responsibility was put on me from ages 12 to 18 to babysit, watch, and care for my younger siblings. I never felt like I had much of an opportunity to be myself or build my own interests because the vast majority of my time was occupied caring for children. I am attending college on an academic scholarship and I am enjoying my studies and learning to grow on my own. I recently got a summer job near my university and there is an affordable apartment I can rent for the summer while I am working. When I told my parents, they got very upset, claiming that I was "abandoning" them. They said that they needed me home to drive children to appointments and provide summer care. I feel like I gave my teenage years to my family and college should be my opportunity to grow as an individual. My parents think family is more important than anything else and I owe it to them and my siblings to come how and offer care. Who is right in this scenario? If I decide to stay in college, how do I explain my choice to my parents and preserve a relationship with them? If I decide to go home, is it possible to negotiate for a few hours per week that I am not responsible for children to go to a movie, talk to a friend, or do some yoga?

 

A: Your parents have done a wonderful thing by adopting children out of the foster care system, but they also have an obligation not to turn any of their children into indentured servants to their service. Eleven children is an overwhelming number, and without the older kids helping out, the family would likely collapse. But I dislike your description of your childhood as one of schoolwork and childcare. No wonder college has seemed like glorious liberation. I disagree with your parents’ idea that you never actually do get to leave permanently, and now you're obligated to be a full-time camp counselor. I don't see how you negotiate with them for a movie or yoga break. If that is the kind of frivolous activity that doesn't fit with their 24-hour on-call agenda, there's no point spending your summer trying to fight for a few moments of peace. You preserve your relationship with your parents by making clear that as their children grow up the relationship changes. You've become an independent young woman who’s gotten her college tuition paid, and has found a job and an apartment. Most parents of kids your age would weep with joy at that. Your parents may have had so many children they don't know what to do, but you do. Stick with your summer plans.

 

 

"Indentured servants"--perfect!

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Third

The sad thing is that if she doesn't go home she is sentencing her oldest younger sister to the same life. Although I bet even if she went home she would be training her sister to take over that role during the school year. Don't go back! They'll probably find a way to mess up you going back to college!

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Minerva

Wow, that was a really good answer. Reminds me of a friend of mine who grew up on a farm and spent most of her time outside school being used as free labour. Parents were pissed when she announced she was going to school halfway across the province, but it's her right. They'll have to hire help, and hopefully they won't take their other kids' labour for granted now that they see how much their daughter's was worth.

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nokidsmom
Don't go back! They'll probably find a way to mess up you going back to college!

Yep, that was my first thought. Hopefully she will stick with her summer plans, and maybe she should make an effort to ensure that she has the same arrangement for the next few summers until graduation.

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BravaAmica
Wow, that was a really good answer. Reminds me of a friend of mine who grew up on a farm and spent most of her time outside school being used as free labour. Parents were pissed when she announced she was going to school halfway across the province, but it's her right. They'll have to hire help, and hopefully they won't take their other kids' labour for granted now that they see how much their daughter's was worth.

Or, hopefully, they still allow the other children to leave home.

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Elle

This girl leaving in the first place probably caused a rift. But it was strong of her to do it. Hopefully she won't go back. And hopefully the next kids will leave too.

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Koala

Run! They've had/adopted all of these children - now it's time for THEM to raise them.

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SisiL78

When I read that Dear Prudence last week it reminded me of Big Fat Gypsy wedding where they showed one girl getting married and the palpable bitterness and anger that her younger sister had at being pulled out of school to take over her older sister's housekeeping duties. She was so angry and on the verge of tears from being pulled out of school only to go into servitude to her family. It amazes me how parents can not give a fig about their children's future (they may talk about it, but they are just paying lip service).

The Duggars and their Gothardite friends are not unique. It continues to amaze me how many different ways parents have found to deny their children opportunities for a real life.

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dawbs
The sad thing is that if she doesn't go home she is sentencing her oldest younger sister to the same life. Although I bet even if she went home she would be training her sister to take over that role during the school year. Don't go back! They'll probably find a way to mess up you going back to college!

Ugh.

My baby-sister (the youngest in the family) has, to me, condemned our aunt for leaving my mom to pick up all the slack and running off. (my mom dropped out of college to try to raise her younger siblings...her parents were...challenging is a nice word for today)

I understand completely why siblings stay to raise other siblings...but they often sacrifice everyone's happiness to do it.

The letter immediately amde me think of FJ.

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Third

I actually wouldn't put it past parents like that to mess up their taxes etc in order to mess with any grants\loans if they are dependent on her parent's financial information. MIL did that to my husband and another time she did a laying on hands prayer at his work when she found out his boss was Wicca and then told him the devil fired him...

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