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Tanika: Helping Mom


Tanika, age 13, lives with her mother, father, an older brother, and a younger sister. Her father is a truck driver and spends a lot of time on the road. Her mother is a homemaker.  Her mother has times when she is very depressed. This is called major depression. When Tanika’s mother is depressed, she looks very sad. She cries easily. She doesn’t move around much. She doesn’t get up in the morning to see the kids off to school like she does when she is doing well. She doesn’t get the laundry and the shopping done.

Tanika has to help her younger sister get to the school bus on time with her lunch made and her books packed up. She helps with her sister’s homework. She and her older brother usually make supper and they argue about who has to do the laundry. Everyone can be pretty unhappy when her mother is not well. Tanika finds herself trying to help her mother all the time. But her mother disagrees with this. Her mother says, “Tanika, I need your help when I’m very depressed, but not today. When I am having a good day, I just want you to have fun and do your homework and stuff that most kids do every day. I do not need you to take care of me. That is my job.”

Tanika needs to figure out when to help and how. This includes when NOT to help and how to avoid rushing in to help when it is not needed. She wonders if she, her siblings, and her parents should sit down and talk about this. It sounds like a good idea, but she isn’t sure how to do this.