Mar 09, 2024

The Caregiving Story of Mercadez–A Child Caregiver

My caregiving story started far before I knew what caregiving was. I was a child thrown into the caregiving world, caring for both my parents. 

My father has always been a family man, very loving and willing to do anything for those he loved. My father, at the time, had his own cleaning business, but due to his caring for my grandmother and his depression, he struggled to maintain the business. He would also find himself often in bed, neglecting the basics of caring for himself and me. To try and help him, I would do everything around the house, help with his business, and aid my grandmother as much as I could. I would clean the home, make the grocery list, and have my dad bring me to go grocery shopping and make the meals. For his work, I would help my dad with job site cleaning and with administrative work, even making him a budget. I was a child doing as much as possible for him while only seeing him every day after school for a few hours and every second weekend. 

I lived primarily with my mother, so caring for her and our home was my primary job. It became especially apparent when I began high school. I became the only person to care for the home, cooking and cleaning while also paying for groceries and other necessities around the house with the money I had saved up. The grocery store was right across from my home, so I was forced to walk to the store and then carry everything home or get a ride back if I could not carry everything that day. My mother was mentally abusive, always telling me I was not doing enough, that I should be working so that I had more money to give etc. During this time, I had a full school schedule and other responsibilities, so I couldn’t have a job as I did not have the time. My mother expected me to have great grades and care for everything. But my grades were slipping, and when I asked for help, I received a verbal slap to the face that I could do better. At this time, my mother had a few undiagnosed mental health issues, and I believe she is actively using drugs. So, I cared for the home and her, who used me as a verbal punching bag to let out her problems and frustrations. 

As I moved out of my parent’s house to move on to university, I discovered boundaries and ways to protect my mental health. I helped my parents with their mental health and lives, but I did not notice mine getting worse then. Once I moved out, I saw how toxic my situation was, so I set boundaries with my parents to protect myself. I still find myself helping my parents, but now it is no longer taxing on me. My parents have come a long way and no longer rely as heavily on me. I have found a love for caring for people in a secure environment; thus, my future goal is to become a psychotherapist. 

My advice to you as a caregiver is as follows: 

  1. Do not be afraid or ashamed to set boundaries 
  2. You have to take care of yourself to care for others
  3. You are allowed to say no when it gets too much and seek out external help
  4. You do not have to do everything alone 
  5. It is okay to have negative feelings 


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Most of us, at some point in our lives, will be a caregiver to someone close to us. A caregiver provides physical and/or emotional support to a family member, partner, friend, or neighbour. Who do you care for?