Helping at home and informal care : an examination of children's contribution to family life
Using a questionnaire sample of 980 eleven to sixteen year olds and a small number of interviews, this study explores what young people do to help at home. Research carried out over the last decade has provided considerable insight into the lives of children and young people involved in caring for family members who are ill or who experience disabilities. What is less well understood are the pathways for young people's involvement into caring and the nature of the links between routine helping out at home and caring for a parent with a serious illness or disability.;Young people's involvement in informal care causes concern, as such young people often carry a significant burden of both work and responsibility. This study seeks to identify the extent to which young people may be involved in different kinds of responsibilities and to assess the impact this has on their lives.;The theoretical foundation for the research draws upon current social theory, focusing especially on the sociology of childhood and the sociology of social problems.;The data gathered indicates that the family situation has little effect upon patterns of routine helping out, but significantly influences whether or not young people will become involved in greater levels of home responsibility. The key findings suggest that young people assume responsibility for others in a variety of circumstances and that it is useful to use the concept of a home responsibility continuum when considering young people's helping behaviour in the home.