Keeping Leo Jones, Aaliyah Muhammad’s nephew, fed and happy is part of her daily task as a surrogate parent.
By Staff Writer
If high school wasn't enough, add playing the role of parent or caretaker into the equation. Some teenagers must babysit, manage households and make difficult decisions for siblings or loved ones while their parents are off at work. Basically they are a surrogate parent; all while dealing with their own struggles and stress.
It's very common in single parent households or in homes where both parents work overnight that the parental responsibilities are pushed off onto the eldest. They step up to take care of their younger siblings in the parent’s absence.
Finding others who share my story was why I began writing this article. I am a parentified teen and for those who don't know what that means, it means, I take the role as a mom when my mom is busy working the graveyard shift. I take care of my ill aunt and siblings while still being a full-time student. Many students have this same struggle, having to mature at a young age to help raise our siblings.
Some Leuzinger students are going through the same thing. Danielle Randall says, “Having to make sure
my little sister’s homework is done, making sure she’s fed, bathed, and in bed by 9pm all before my things are complete is difficult, but I manage.”
If being a surrogate parent wasn’t enough, some students even work themselves.“Both of my parents work and I have a part time job, but I’m responsible for making sure my siblings have all their things ready for school,” said Sarah Gonzalez. Many more Olympians are in the same shoes and have to make tough decisions when juggling their homework, grades and attendance. It is difficult to be the elder, you learn to sacrifice your needs in order to help those you love the most.
Photos by Aaliyah Muhammad
Leo Jones, Aaliyah Muhammad’s nephew, heads to school.