Anybody who grew up with siblings knows how often their parents would rely on them to provide free childcare.
And we also know how frustrating that can be. As kids, we vow to get out of our houses and maintain our own space, no matter our parents’ intentions for us.
Reddit user BigBroSituation did just that, and unfortunately experienced some serious guilting from his parents for it.
After being at the mercy of a bad situation, he went to the popular subReddit “Am I The A**hole?” or “AITA” to ascertain whether he’d reacted badly:
“AITA for moving to avoid babysitting for my parents which prompted my siblings to do the same?”
Our original poster, or OP, told us about why he got out when he could.
“I’m (22M[ale]) the oldest brother of 9 siblings. I have 5 younger brothers and 3 sisters. My sister is 20 and my brother is 19. Youngest is 4 yrs old and my other siblings ages range from 16yrs-7yrs.”
“My parents would’ve had way more kids but my mom suffered from several miscarriages.”
“Pretty much since I was 6 I had to take care of all my siblings. I could never go out because my parents were working and nobody to take care of my siblings. I love my siblings but I hated never having freedom.”
Now, as an adult, OP has a better perspective on why he felt so resentful in the moment.
“It used to annoy me like crazy that they would just pop one kid after another.”
“Our house wasn’t that big so everyone shared rooms, never had any private space, parents made good money but because of so many kids they struggled financially.”
And then upon finding out why he was saddled with the responsibility, he got even more annoyed.
“Years later I found out the reason why they had so many kids because they weren’t using any protection AT ALL.”
“My mom said they didn’t believe in using protection and any kids they had were because of ‘god’s will.’”
“If they didn’t get pregnant, that was fine, if they did it was because that was God’s plan.”
“I was so mad since I was the one also stuck taking care of all these kids because they’re too stubborn to use protection since it’s against their beliefs.”
So as soon as he could, OP got out.
“When my mom got pregnant again with my youngest sibling, I waited til my 18th and moved out that day. Made sure I moved far too (1 hr away) so I had that excuse.”
And his siblings followed suit.
“When my sis turned 18 she begged me to let her live with me and I said ya. My bro did too eventually.”
“My sister has already moved out but he’s still there with me while we continue our college classes.”
“They saw that I limited contact with my parents to avoid getting stuck babysitting so they wanted out too. Now my younger bro who’s 16 is spending more time at my place because he hates it at home.”
His parents have thrown him the blame for this situation.
“My parents are mad at me for dipping out on them since that’s made my other siblings not wanna be responsible for the younger ones either.”
“My dad told me they’re hurt I turned my back on my family and have made my siblings do the same.”
OP doesn’t know if he handled the situation poorly.
“Cause I’m the older one so I have the most influence on them and ever since I left they followed with the same attitude.”
“A part of me does feel bad that they’re having a hard time but at the same time I feel they brought that on themselves just thinking they can have however many kids and expecting us all to just live with their actions.”
“Just wondering if I’m TA for how this all happened.”
Redditors helped OP see where guilt belongs by declaring:
- NTA – Not The A**hole
- YTA – You’re The A**hole
- ESH – Everyone Sucks Here
- NAH – No A**holes Here
Reddit took OP’s side without a second thought.
“NTA it sounds like your parents used you to parent your siblings. There is an actual term for this: Parentification.”
“There is obviously a spectrum to parentification of how much responsibility the child is expected to have but it sounds like you know that what your parents expected from you was an unfair amount.”
“You didn’t choose to have those kids, they are not your kids, but you were forced to look after them. Well done for being able to get out and start looking after your own needs.”
“In a way, it sounds like you are still parenting your siblings by letting the older ones live with you. But as long as you are happy to to do so and that you don’t feel you have to.”~JosBenson
“NTA! There is a reason why the term parentification is a thing. It is a scale and some cases are much worse than others, but it is a recognised issue because it can have a negative effect on your development.”
“Older siblings can look after younger ones on occasion but it should never really impact the freedom of the older siblings.”
“The red flags:”
“You parents seem to expect that their adult children babysit. The expectation is a huge red flag.”
“You and your siblings feel you need to ‘get out,’ indicating you can’t just say ‘no’ when asked. You should always be able to say ‘no.'”
“You all feel the same way, it is not just a problem for one person, it is a family issue.”
“This indicates there is a bigger problem all of you make a plan to get away from because your parents don’t seem to be offering any other solution. Normal people talk it over, listen to each other and maybe create a schedule.”
“The seem to make you feel as if you owe them something. This can be a bit of a narcissist characteristic in some people.”
“The really bad cases manipulate you to do their bidding and make you feel very guilty that you don’t really want to.”
“Don’t assume everything is normal just because it is what has been normal your entire life. Even light parentification can cause psychological issues down the track.”~Ds685
“You didn’t choose to have all those kids, your parents did. The younger children are their responsibility and not yours. End of story.”~markroth69
“NTA. They’ve been enormously irresponsible by leaving the odds of getting pregnant up to divine will (or rather their own biology), and relying on the older kids to look after the younger ones.”
“But good on you for helping the ones who also want to get out of being a live-in babysitter. They have at least ten children and probably will have more given their attitude towards protection.”
“Does the Bible say anything about deadbeat parents?”~NotSoSilentWatcher
In fact, Redditors say that the parents’ expectations are extremely unfair.
“NTA. Kids should help around the house a bit, not be turned into parents for their siblings. As an 18-year-old moving out, you only have responsibility for yourself.”
“It wasn’t your choice to have these kids, they aren’t your responsibility to deal with.”
“I think it’s cool that you’re looking out for your brother and sister, helping them to keep from being turned into parents. Moving out at 18 isn’t ‘abandoning your family’ or whatever. This is ridiculous.”~Rose_colored_lense
“I am the eldest of 10 kids (I was 21 when my youngest sibling was born) and did a lot of babysitting growing up.”
“However my mother was a Stay-At-Home-Mom from the time I was 3 until I was 15, my parents ensured that they could financially handle each child, but don’t have a lot of money left over.”
“I had a therapist who stated that I never went through teenage rebellion and I laughed about it.”
“Because I didn’t have to rebel: my parents encouraged me to get my motorcycle license–my mother actually went at the same time.”
“I grew up in a small town where not much happened and I was able to travel to the larger towns to spend time with friends and didn’t feel like I missed out on anything.”
“OP, you are NTA my parents may have had a lot of kids however they often stated that ‘our children are our responsibility, not our older children’s responsibility.'”
“My mother actually drank a bit too much a few weeks ago and cried that she wishes she had helped us (adult children) all more.”
“I pointed out that she had helped us all and we didn’t expect more. She and Dad allowed me to live with them for 3 years with my twins after their father took off on us just after they were born (she cried about “not doing more” for me).”
“They supported 2 of my sisters in moving out with their partners. 2 of my brothers still live with them while working (getting housing here is hard and expensive).”
“Another brother is in the midst of trying to move to another town as he has a new job and my parents are caring for his 3 year old daughter so that he can work and come spend time with his daughter on weekends.”
“They still have 4 minor children all in school, both of them still work, and still manage to care for their kids.”~Aesient
“NTA. I would consider throwing around the line about gods will when they complain. You didn’t get to have a say in how many kids they chose to have and they don’t get a say in how much contact you want to have.”
“Of course they were passive about caring how many children they had because they weren’t the ones facing the consequences of their actions. You were!”
“Now they are mad because they will have to parent or figure out how to hire a babysitter. This is a problem of their own doing and theirs to figure out a solution.”
“Good on you for helping your siblings get out of the environment and to start standing on their own. Not all siblings would do that, and I think it is commendable.”~chatondedanger
“NTA. They gave birth to the children, so they should raise them. That was “g-ds plan” for them. SMH.”~Snoo-91342
In fact, there is a psychological term for what OP’s parents were doing: “parentification.”
“NTA – your parents are the major assholes here, though.”
“What they did to you is called ‘parentification’ which is a form of abuse. Basically, it’s where they turn their eldest siblings into pseudo-parents and have them in turn take care of their younger siblings.”
“As you mentioned, it adds a lot of responsibility to your plate and effectively steals a chunk of your freedom and childhood away from you.”
“I don’t blame you for getting out of there and off the hook as soon as you could. It’s not your decision they kept procreating without any sort of protection, so they shouldn’t make the result of their unprotected affairs your responsibility.”
“If they can’t watch their youngest kids, then they shouldn’t be having kids anymore. Or they need to find and pay for childcare on their own. They should not be putting that burden on their kids.”
“Good on you and your siblings for getting out of a bad situation. Don’t let them guilt you into coming back, your parents are the ones trying to skirt their responsibilities and place those on their own kids.”
“Older siblings aren’t free childcare. That’s not ‘God’s will.'”~dookle14
“NTA. I am a parent, I never wanted a ton of children, but I married a man who is the youngest of 6 and it turned me off from that even more. His parents were generally neglectful, so his older siblings weren’t made to watch him, but… no one was.”
“He basically raised himself. It’s also really clear even in adulthood that his parents don’t have the capacity to properly care about all their children. It’s not fair to him and I can’t imagine how it must feel to you.”
“I have two children and maybe I’m just faint of heart, but I can’t imagine having the time, energy and emotional capacity to properly parent more than 3-4 kids total.”
“People can make the choices they want in life, but they must assess their ability to deal with the responsibility that comes along.”
“I’m not going to trash everyone that chooses to have several children, maybe there are people who can handle it a lot better than I feel I could.”
“You deserved to have a childhood, though and to feel loved and respected for who you are and not just what you do for your family.”
“It’s important to be willing to do sucky things for the people you love. That’s kind of what family is sometimes.”
“But you were just a kid and you should have a choice in the matter. I think it’s good that you create some boundaries as an adult and learn how to have a relationship with your parents without doing things that cause bitterness and resentment.”~allsfairinwar
“NTA. Christian here. You know what this reminds me of… There once was a man trapped on the roof of a house in a flood. He prayed to God for help and along came a rescue boat.”
“The man refused rescue saying ‘I’m waiting for God to help me.’ The boat left and the water level continues to rise. Along came a helicopter but again the man refused rescue saying ‘I’m waiting for God to help me.'”
“The helicopter left. The man drowned. When he got to heaven he asked ‘why didn’t you save me even though I asked you to again and again?!’ God replied, ‘I tried twice, I sent a boat and a helicopter but you refused rescue.’”
“This is basically what your parents have done. God has given them the means to control the number of children they have but when they end up with a crazy amount and no-one to help they are annoyed that it’s not going to plan.”~Lavishness-Economy
“NTA – You should tell them that you loved the opportunity to take care of your 75 siblings 24/7, but when you turned 18 it was god’s will that made you move out.”~olneyvideo
According to Reddit, OP was fully within his rights to make his own choices and not serve as a surrogate parent to his 8 siblings.
And his parents will either realize that or they won’t. That, ultimately, is up to them.