I’m not ready for parenthood

Dear Counsellor,

It’s been two weeks since my brother died, and I took in his three children. We are two siblings left, but my sister doesn’t live here and doesn’t communicate much. She called when our brother died but didn’t even make any effort to come for the burial saying she was broke, and so she didn’t even contribute to the funeral. Our parents died years ago. The relatives we have around are more helpless than they are helpful. At 26, I find myself with three kids to take care of alone and no idea how. Their mother was never in their lives, nobody knows where she is. My sister won’t help. I have a job but I feel like my own life is messed up as I can’t possibly think about having my own children. How will I even find a partner okay with raising three children that are not his? I’m really stressed and this can’t be good for the children in my care. Am I being selfish to think this way? Does it get easer? Please advise. 

Lisa

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Dear Lisa,
 
Mourning the death of your brother in addition to taking responsibility over his orphaned children can be difficult to deal with.  
 
No one wants to leave their children suffering but death is unpredictable and inevitable. I truly understand the challenge you’re undergoing, especially given the huge financial, physical, and emotional demands involved. 
 
It appears you’re overwhelmed with heavy parenting responsibilities which seem to be pushing you from crisis to crisis. Raising orphaned children singlehandedly is complex and sometimes, it feels like the sacrifice is too much. 
 
Nonetheless, I can assure you that if you make the sacrifice and support these children and help them secure a bright future, in the long run, the outcome will be worth the effort. 
 
Your legacy will not be about how comfortably you lived in this world, but the impact you caused in someone’s life, starting with these kids. You’re now the only one who can steer them towards a bright future. 
 
Please take full custody of these children. I advise you to consider discussing it with your other sibling or family members, however helpless they are. Don’t underestimate them, for you never know who will be willing to offer a helping hand, in any way they can.
 
About their education, take them to an affordable but decent public school, such as a community institution, one that doesn’t put a dent in your finances. 
 
Many parents rely on scholarships to fund their children’s tuition. Apply for these scholarships or bursaries for them to study.  There are also student loans and grants that the Government put in place, specifically to assist students from low-income backgrounds. 
 
Endeavor to help them acquire vocational skills as they grow, to begin the journey towards self-sufficiency. Encourage them to have plans and goals. Be supportive and understanding, have an open mind and express your expectations. 
 
When they are of age, with vocational skills, discuss how to begin living independently. If they can’t start on their own, offer to help pay the first installment on their rent, and keep checking on them to see how well they are doing. 
 
Don’t worry about a future partner because if a man truly loves you, he will love all that belongs to you, including the kids.
 
Your feedback
 
Do not abandon them
 
Since your brother’s children have nowhere to go, continue taking care of them until they are old enough to take care of themselves. I believe God will give you a companion who is willing to take on the children as his own. 
 
Marie Aimee Uwamahoro, Tailor
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You are too young for this responsibility
 
Even though your relatives are of no help, hold a family meeting and ask them to talk to your sister about helping you out. They should find ways to assist you. 
 
Simon Musengimana, Motorcyclist
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The children need you
 
First help raise your brother’s children before you think about having your own. Consider them your own as they don’t have any other relative to help. Work hard for them and God will reward you. 
 
Stephanie Mbabazi, Student
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You are their mother now
 
Put yourself in those children’s shoes; on top of losing their father, they don’t have anyone to call a mother. I suggest that you worry less about your life and concentrate on how to help them. Also, continue talking to your sister about this. 
 
Erick Kabarere, Church leader
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