Being a young carer involves a similar balancing act. Young carers must be highly aware of the needs of others, particularly of the family member whom they care for. At the same time they must be committed and confident in their own lives and identities, especially as young adults. Trying to create this balance in life can be stressful and challenging. While other people the same age might be concerned with where they want to go to school, what part-time job they want to do, or where they want to go with their friends on Friday night, young cares have to consider all these aspects in balance with the needs of their family member. Sometimes worrying about a family member’s condition can also make it difficult to participate in social, academic, or athletic activities which help create that balance.
There are many antidotes to the stress and worry associated with caring for a family member, and they require of young carers significant maturity:
Accepting what is beyond our control
Accepting what is beyond our control and beyond our choice in life is important. This involves doing what we can to take care of and love our family members with an awareness that we may be able to affect, but not control the outcome. This takes a lot of courage, as it means we are confronted with great uncertainty. It is, however, an important skill which can help us throughout all of life. Almost everyone, not just a young carer, is confronted with challenging life experiences which demand this skill.
Celebrating being a Young Carer
Another important aspect of coping with stress and worry is a celebration young carers. The situations of young carers are unique, special, and worthwhile. Young carers have knowledge, skills, and experiences which other young people do not. Even if one does not always receive recognition, any work one does to help others is greatly appreciated and always meaningful.
Asking for what you need
Teachers, friends and other important people in your life may not know or understand what you are dealing with. If there are people you trust, it can be helpful to let them know what’s going on in your family and ask them for support. You might need a flexible homework or assignment due date schedule from you teacher or a boss at work who is willing to help find people to cover your shift if you need to cancel at the last minute. Asking for what you need can greatly reduce stress and anxiety.
Doing what you love
Even though it can be very difficult to maintain the balance and keep up different activities, it’s important to keep doing what we love and what is important to us. Doing what we love gives us energy. If we can find something which inspires us, it can carry us through times of stress of worry. Young cares, here at the YCP program we are very proud of you and we feel you have amazing potential to discover and excel at the things you love to do!
Do you have any strategies for reducing stress and worry? If so, post them below in the comments!
Written by Anna Tennent- Riddell
Photos from freedigitialphotos.net