I Wasn’t a Good Mother to my Brothers.

Teenage me.


I was not a good mother to my brothers.  There, I said it.


They were a great deal younger than me and I, in large part, raised them until I left home in the 11th grade.  I woke them up and got them ready for school each day, I did their laundry,  I took them to church without fail (and parent-less) multiple times a week, and I slept with them in my bed more often than not because they needed comforting.


But I was not a good mother.


Why?  Because I wasn’t their mother.  I was a teenager, and one who hadn’t been modeled any gentle-parenting examples.  No teenager should have to shoulder the responsibility of raising siblings in that environment.  So I, unqualified for the job and overworked, did the only thing I knew how to do, the only thing I had been shown.


I fussed, and I bribed, and I threatened, and I nagged, and I yelled. 


I didn’t treat them with respect, that’s true.  I didn’t know how to show anyone respect yet in my life, because I had never seen respect, never even witnessed it.  I loved them, and I cared for them, but I didn’t know how to raise them.



So, no – I was not a good mother to my brothers.  And I never claimed to be.  But I was an excellent sister.






  1. But it gave you great training for being a GREAT mom to your own kids!

    • Jessica says:

      It was one of those “I learned everything not to do” life experiences. ; )

  2. You’re wonderful

  3. Sometimes I wonder if we had the same mother ;)
    I too raised my 2 little sisters, only…in my infinite wisdom at such a young age, I decided, if I was going to raise children…why not raise my own, and so at 15, I had me my very own baby…..lol!
    STILL trying to be a good mother…18 yrs later!

    • Jessica says:

      I was a little behind you. I didn’t become a mother until I was 17. : )

  4. Speaking as someone who was raised by two sisters that weren’t good mothers: you were still better than nothing. My sisters were 9 and 10 when I was born and they were more mothers to me than my mother ever was. They each moved out in 11th grade as well so I was alone when I was 8 and it sucked and I felt like an orphan even though I shared a house with my two parents. I missed my moms.

  5. We work with children in Costa Rica and see a lot of siblings raising siblings. This is such a good insight. Thanks for your courage to share that. xo

  6. Oh, those days. And we are still excellent sisters :)

  7. I somehow managed to post that without finishing my thought…

    I think raising Brother is the reason I’ve never wanted kids shooting out of my own loins. In my mind, I’ve already done that…and I don’t want to do it again. Especially from scratch. Eek.
    Of course, now I have the Steps…but that’s a little different because they aren’t full time.

  8. Whoa! I could have written this post and so needed the release of being reminded that I wasn’t supposed to be their mom, just their sister, despite the circumstances.

    • Jessica says:

      I completely understand, I’m so glad it spoke to your sister/mother heart. : )

  9. this brought back some memories. I had step sisters who were much younger, and I was just an immature teenager with them… which is just what you would expect. But I do feel awful about the times I got angry or didn’t support hem like I should.

    • My daughter isn’t a perfect mother to her brothers, either. But I’m so thankful for the gentleness that she oftentimes shows them and the patience I can see her learning now. I can only hope that it serves her well one day if she’s a mother. Of course, she’s not quite a teenager yet, and they have a lot of annoying years ahead of them still. :) But I hope she doesn’t have too many eldest sibling regrets like some of the rest of us.

      Thanks for the the comment, Ed.