“Young carers” are children and young people who are responsible for housework and family care. In recent years, the problems faced by young carers have been frequently reported. What kind of thoughts do “young carers” have and what do they find difficult about life? I will explain based on my counseling experience and the growth steps of children’s minds.
Young carers are children and young people who take care of household chores and families.
Children who are responsible for household chores and family care that should be handled by adults are called “young carers” . Currently, there is no legal definition, but according to the Japan Carers Federation, children under the age of 18 are referred to as “young carers” and “children’s carers”, and those aged 18 to about 30 are referred to as “young carers”. .
In this article, I would like to refer to carers who are in school, including college students and vocational school students, as “young carers.”
Illness of parents, taking care of siblings, and nursing care… Diverse circumstances of young carers
Many people may think that young carers are children and young people who take care of family members who need nursing care, but young carers are responsible for more than just nursing care.
During my counseling sessions, I have had the opportunity to meet young carers and adults who were once young carers, but the circumstances vary.
- I have been cooking for my family since I was in elementary school due to my parent’s illness.
- A parent has a mental illness and has a lot of ups and downs, and since childhood, he has accepted and supported his parents’ feelings.
- Since my family was in financial difficulty, I have supported my family by helping with side jobs since I was a child.
- I have many siblings and I have taken care of them every day
- Parents were foreigners and did not understand Japanese language and customs well, so there were many situations where I had to act as a substitute for my parents.
, and various other situations. When we are children, we often grow up without the ability to see the situation in which we are placed, and without realizing that we are carrying too many responsibilities as children.
However, I can’t play even though I want to play because I’m busy taking care of my family, and I don’t have time to study. I can’t dream of the future… Many children find it difficult to live in such a situation.
Why are young carers a problem? 3 steps to grow the human mind
Children’s efforts to help and support their parents are wonderful, but why are young carers becoming a problem now? In order to understand the problems that young carers tend to have, I will first explain the growth of the human mind.
The human mind is said to grow through the following three steps.
The first to grow is an “innocent heart” . It is a heart that allows you to express your desires as they are, play with all your might, and express your emotions freely. By being able to accept their honest feelings, being close to them, sympathizing with them, and receiving gentle feedback, their hearts are at ease and they grow up quickly.
The next thing to grow is the “mind of distinction” . We will learn how to follow lifestyle habits and rules, and how to behave in a group. At home, in kindergarten and at school, children learn the principles of what should and should not be done by adults while learning to draw a line.
The last thing to grow is the “mind of balance” . It is to adjust the conflict that arises between the “innocent mind” and the “mind of judgment”. By looking at your situation objectively, you can come to terms with what you want to do and what you should do.
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Young carers don’t have enough time to nurture an “innocent heart”
It seems that many young carers have not fully experienced each of the three steps above, and especially have not had the opportunity to fully develop their “innocent minds.” This is because I have no choice but to put up with my childish desires and always think of my family first.
Even if they want to play, they have to go home early because they are worried about their parents. Even if there is something I want to do, I have no choice but to give up because it is impossible due to family circumstances. Under these circumstances, if an “innocent heart” is not fully developed in childhood, it will be impossible to exercise the free emotions and desires that arise from innocence.
Under such circumstances, if you have to rapidly develop a “mind of distinction” and a “mind of balance” in your own way to take on the responsibility of caring for your family, you will not know your true feelings and hopes, and you will not be able to enjoy life. I can’t think, I don’t know who I am… It’s not uncommon to have such thoughts.
What is the first step to solve the mental problems of young carers?
Everyone has the right to live in their own way and be happy. In order to do so, it is necessary to experience the three growths of the above mind evenly. An “innocent heart” can be nurtured even after you grow up. To do that, you need someone who will continue to stand by your honest feelings.
In other words, in order for young carers to be themselves and live with a positive attitude, it is most important to meet people and places who understand young carers well and accept their feelings .
You may be able to meet such people and places in familiar places such as schools and communities. The website of the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare also introduces consultation services for young carers. It may be a good way to participate in a meeting of the parties.
You can find hints by talking… Actively interact with people who understand and support you
Most of the young carers I have met value their families very much. I think it’s important to have a life that has been a strength of the family.
However, somewhere in my heart, I do not know who I am, and I feel that I am not enjoying myself from the bottom of my heart, and I often feel loneliness. There are many people who do not have time to think about the future and do not have the opportunity to face what they really want to do.
By knowing the situation of young carers well and talking to someone who accepts their feelings, you may find hints to enrich your life and live happily. You can also learn about various information such as financial assistance and nursing care support, and you will understand that you do not have to deal with it alone.