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To Sam

My family are being torn apart by my mum's disability.

My mum has a disability which has afected her movement. It was caused by her giving birth to my brother who is 3 years old and also disabled. My step-dad has been finding it hard to cope with looking after my mum and getting work done as he is self employed. I have stayed with my mum downstairs as her condition has gotten worse and tried to help her as best I can. My brother doesn't understand things and gets angry easily. I've gotten really stressed so he's been shouted at a lot. He continues to be naughty so it's really hard to look after him and my mum.
I don't know what to do as I feel like the only sane enough person in the house to do anything about it.
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Sam

Hello,

I’m so glad you’ve written to tell me about your situation at home, which sounds very stressful.

It’s clear to me you’re doing your best to try to care for both your mum and 3 year old brother. That would be a big job for an adult, let alone a young person. Right now, it sounds like your step-dad is finding it hard to cope with everything. Unsurprisingly, this has left you feeling even more stressed and unsupported.

You may not have thought of it this way, but you’re currently being a young carer. In your case, this means that you’re spending so much time looking after your mum and your brother that it’s affecting the rest of your life. I know how stressful, difficult and sometimes lonely that situation can be. It also can feel very confusing when suddenly you have to switch roles from being a child to almost being like a parent.

If you haven’t seen it already, there is a section in Explore called Young carers. Looking at it might help you feel a bit less alone. There are also several organisations out there who provide support and advice for young carers. One of these is the charity Young Carers, which has a lot of information and advice on its website. They also have an online chat service a lot like ours, where you can talk to trained youth workers or discuss your worries with other young people in similar situations.

You haven’t mentioned whether Social Services are aware of your family’s situation and if they are providing some support and home care for your mum and brother. If that’s something that isn’t happening, but you think it might be helpful, it’s definitely worth talking to someone about it. This could be a teacher, another family member or another adult like a youth worker or school nurse. The Young Carers website that I mentioned before will give you some more information about asking social services for help. Alternatively, NHS young carers has some good advice on the support that may be available to you.

You can always contact one of the ChildLine counsellors, either by phone or online, so that they can help you find ways to feel less stressed by the situation with your family. Contacting the counsellors by phone is free and the 1-2-1 chat works like instant messenger.

Take care,

Sam

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