Teenage Kicks: Becoming a Parent For Your Sibling and Your Mother

When routine surgery left his mum needing full-time care, Taylor had to become the parent to both his mum and his younger sister…

When a child becomes the parent

What happens when the unthinkable happens, and you suddenly have to become the ‘parent’ to your own sibling?

This is what happened to Taylor James, who was just 25 when his mum suffered terrible brain injury following a routine operation. On the day his sister started her GCSEs Taylor was faced with needing to tell her their mum might not live, and subsequently making the decision to turn off her life-support machine.

Miraculously, she survived, and Taylor tells the emotional story of how he went from child to parent overnight, not just to his sister, but to his mum, who know needs full-time neurological care.

This is a young guy who had to navigate not only the world of care homes, but also the drama of his sister’s prom – he says he’s now dreading her wedding day!

But through all this, Taylor’s strength and wisdom shines through, and he describes how facing the unimaginable has made him realise that there’s nothing to be scared of in life; that whatever is going to happen will happen, in spite of our efforts to control it, but that we have what it takes to navigate it, whatever it is.

Taylor explains what it's like to become a parent to your younger sibling

What is Parentification? 

Parentification is the word used to describe what happens when a child has to become the parent to their own mother or father. Usually it’s used to describe a parent’s maladjusted approach to their relationship with their child. Clearly this doesn’t apply in Taylor’s case, but I wanted to highlight an example here of a young woman who felt that she was parentified by her mother, and how she processed this as an adult. 

But when an older sibling acting like a parent becomes a necessity, the mental health impact on that young person is huge. Taylor’s learning curve, and his advice to those who find themselves in a similar situation is huge. But his tips on when older siblings step into a parent’s shoes are inspiring and heartwarming. Listen to the podcast to hear why. 

Where to find Taylor

Taylor is a mental health advocate whose mission is to get people waffling about their mental health. Because as he so poignantly puts it in the podcast:

“Talking is the biggest coping mechanism we have – and it’s FREE!”

When you’ve listened to the episode, go and find Taylor on his own channels below:

Listen to the podcast:

You can find the episode in your usual podcast app, or if you prefer, you can listen online below, or through the podcast page.

View on Zencastr


Subscribe to the Teenage Kicks podcast

Thank you so much for listening! Subscribe now to the Teenage Kicks podcast to hear about the new series when it begins. I’ll be talking to some fabulous guests about difficult things that happened to them as teenagers – including losing a parent, being hospitalised with mental health problems, and battling an eating disorder – and how they overcame things to move on with their lives.

I’d love to hear from you if you have any suggestions for future topics on the Teenage Kicks podcast. Contact me here, or you can find me on Instagram and Twitter at @iamhelenwills. I appreciate every message, and love to hear from my listeners.

I’d love it if you’d rate and review the podcast on iTunes too – it would really help other people to find it.

For information on your data privacy please visit Zencastr. Please note that I am not a medical expert, and nothing in this blog or in the podcast should be taken as medical advice. If you’re worried about a young person please seek support from a medical professional.

Join me in the Teenage Kicks Facebook group!

If you’re a parent of teens it can be difficult to know where to go for advice, to vent, or just to talk. So I’ve made the Teenage Kicks Facebook group, for all parents of teenagers to chat in a safe space. You can request to join by clicking the button below. It’s a private group and everyone in there will be a parent of teenagers.

And if you’re stuck for how to engage with your teenager, this list of things for teens to do might be helpful.

Leave a comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

error: Content is protected !!