My eldest sister got married very young (18) and started having her children very young, as well. As a result, she has children ranging in age from 24 to 10.

I loved watching her children interact. My sister and her husband worked hard to raise these children to be educated, respectful, hardworking and just all around decent human beings. Their family vacations are truly family vacations where they go to some remote place to explore it together.

They spend weekends at their farm, just themselves, doing things like repainting the farm-house or helping build or design the stables. They depend on each other and are what a proper family should be.

This is not saying that they don’t fight. A proper family wouldn’t be one without conflict. But I always admired their family life. What I loved most about watching them interact is that when the eldest 3 children started growing up (2 girls and a boy), they naturally started parenting the younger children.

They starting implementing the house rules on their siblings, making sure that they were home on time, helping with homework, organizing play dates and birthday parties. No one was forced into this, it came about from my sister and her husband handing the elder ones some responsibility when it came to the younger ones. Essentially, my sister and her husband only had to work really hard on the first three, then the first three started helping in a big way with the younger ones.

I have always loved this system, and I think this is one of the benefits of having a big family. I come from a big family that love each other to bits and would not hesitate killing for each other but we never had that dynamic. So I know this is not something that just happens.

But today, when my youngest was screaming his head off because he wanted to draw on one of my books, I realized that my 5-year-old daughter was saying to him “No! That is mama’s book and we don’t draw on books! You want a paper? You want a paper? I’ll get you a paper.”

I did have to intervene because he wasn’t having any of it really, but she was trying to help, and she was essentially saying exactly what I would have said. My son does the same with both his siblings except he seems to relish it more when he is telling his sister off, and this is why I don’t encourage it. But with the right kind of guidance, and not letting the power get to them, I can make them depend on each other and take care of each other.

My nieces are both married and pregnant now and looking forward to having their own children. With years of nappy changing, baby feeding and caring for their siblings when they were sick, they have really done it all. The eldest girls were around 14 when their youngest was born, so old enough to take responsibility. The only thing they don’t know how to do at this point is give birth (it pretty much does it itself so don’t worry habeebti).

I don’t plan on having any more kids after my fourth is born in April inshallah (God willing). I like to think that they will take responsibility for each others well-being and safety and depend on each other like my nieces and nephews do.

“If you want children to keep their feet on the ground, put some responsibility on their shoulders.” – Abigail Van Buren

How much responsibility did you take on towards your siblings when you were growing up? Did you like it? Would you make your children take on responsibilities towards their siblings?

This is an original post to World Moms Blog by Mama B from Saudi Arabia. She can be found writing at her blog, Ya Maamaa.

Photo credit to Bike Queen.  This photo has a creative commons no derivatives license. 

Mama B (Saudi Arabia)

Mama B’s a young mother of four beautiful children who leave her speechless in both, good ways and bad. She has been married for 9 years and has lived in London twice in her life. The first time was before marriage (for 4 years) and then again after marriage and kid number 2 (for almost 2 years). She is settled now in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia (or as settled as one can be while renovating a house). Mama B loves writing and has been doing it since she could pick up a crayon. Then, for reasons beyond her comprehension, she did not study to become a writer, but instead took graphic design courses. Mama B writes about the challenges of raising children in this world, as it is, who are happy, confident, self reliant and productive without driving them (or herself) insane in the process. Mama B also sheds some light on the life of Saudi, Muslim children but does not claim to be the voice of all mothers or children in Saudi. Just her little "tribe." She has a huge, beautiful, loving family of brothers and sisters that make her feel like she wants to give her kids a huge, loving family of brothers and sisters, but then is snapped out of it by one of her three monkeys screaming “Ya Maamaa” (Ya being the arabic word for ‘hey’). You can find Mama B writing at her blog, Ya Maamaa . She's also on Twitter @YaMaamaa.

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