“Dear Aunty Sprout,
I want to hang out with my friends, but I keep having to look after my little brother:
School has just started again, and I was really excited because me and my friends had made loads of after-school plans. However, every time we have tried to do stuff before, like over the summer holidays, my parents say I have to look after my little brother because I’m 16 and they are both working.
I know he is too little to take care of himself, but I’m worried I’m going to lose all my friends if they keep hanging out without me the whole time. It’s particularly hard when I see them doing all this fun stuff on Snapchat and Facebook and I’m stuck inside with my brother who just wants to play video games all day. It’s so boring and really unfair!
What do I do?”
Well now Sprouters, it’s over to you. If you have any advice to offer, please leave your comments below (it’s free and quick to comment but we recommend keeping posts Sprouty and anonymous!).
TheSprout has teamed up with Meic – the national information, advice and advocacy helpline for children and young people in Wales – which has posted as Aunty Sprout below!
Aunty Sprout’s response
It sounds like you feel that you are having a hard time at the moment, with having to look after your little brother all the time while your friends are out enjoying themselves, especially as your friends have made plans that you feel you’re missing out on.
It’s great that you understand that your brother is too little to look after himself, despite how you may be feeling about it, and I’m sure he loves spending the time with you. Have you thought about talking to your parents about how you’re feeling? They might not realise how much of an impact it’s having on you. You might be able to make some arrangements for someone else to have your brother for some of the time to give you some space to enjoy your free time.
Perhaps, when you do take care of him, you can think of things you might enjoy doing together with your friends and your brother. Maybe your parents will allow you to have a friend or two to come to your house so that you can still hang out but keep an eye on your brother, too? Do ask their permission before you do this first though!
It’s understandable that you feel you’re missing out (and this is really normal for all young people). Meic, the national helpline for children and young people is currently running a campaign around the fear of missing out on things, and if you want someone to talk to about how you’re feeling, you could contact the advisers (details below).
Friendship is a two-way thing and just because you can’t spend every day with your friends, it doesn’t mean they will forget you or not want to be friends anymore (not if they’re good friends). When you’re in school, all the things that went on in people’s free time tend to disappear pretty quickly as everyone gets back to seeing each other at school. Don’t take to heart all that you see on the different Social Media sites – you know how some of the photos can sometimes make things seem more exciting than they really are.
Meic – the national helpline for information, advice and advocacy for children and young people under 25 in Wales – can be contacted free by phone on 080880 23456, text on 84001 and instant message on www.meic.cymru. Follow their campaigns on Facebook (@meic.cymru), Instagram (meic.cymru) and Twitter (@meiccymru), too.