If parents are unable to fulfill their roles in the family, then one of the children usually steps in. The parents may be unable to do the job of parenting for a variety of reasons: alcoholism, illness, drug abuse, physical or verbal abuse, depression, anxiety and absences from the family.
Often (but not always) the oldest female child will fill this role. She becomes the designated caretaker both for the younger children and possibly for Mom and Dad as well.
While the following characters are fictitious, the stories reflect a real situation for many children.