Being young and a breadwinner

Being the breadwinner of your family when you’re still young can be a very tough situation to be in. A “breadwinner” is the person in a household who is financially responsible for the family’s survival. Unfortunately, many young women find themselves in this situation for some reason or another. If you’re one of these young women, even if the circumstances are tough, here are a few things you should know.

You’re allowed to ask for help

Being known as the breadwinner at home comes with some serious pressure, and this might add a heavy weight on your shoulders, especially when you’ve got people you need to look after as well as manage your studies and work. But remember this: there’s nothing wrong with asking for help when you need it. In fact, it can save you a lot of stress when you have more than you can handle on your plate.

If you’re in a situation where you’re still at school and looking after your family, you can call the Department of Social Development for assistance on 082 786 4961 or email

Take care of yourself too

Being selfless isn’t a bad thing, but only if it doesn’t get in the way of self-care. You should always try set aside whatever time you can in your day to make sure you’re getting the care you need. Reserving time to do this can also help you keep a clear mind so you can deal with everything else you need to. Here’s a self-care quiz you can take to see how you’re doing.

You can still reach your dreams

If you had plans to study further or even starting your own business, you shouldn’t let the pressure of having to provide make you feel like you can’t still do those things. Even if they can’t happen as soon as you hoped they would, your dreams are still valid. If you’re interested in studying, here’s a list of part-time courses that are available. And there are many ways you can get funding for that great business idea you might have – The People’s Fund is just one of the options out there.

Choma, having to support younger siblings or your entire family as a young woman can make you feel like you’re trapped, so the best thing you can do for yourself is get support from others wherever you can.

Please also call the following numbers if you’re struggling to cope and need to be directed to the right places for help:

Child Welfare South Africa: 0861 4 CHILD (24453) or (011) 452 4110 or email to:

Destiny Helpline for Youth & Students: 0800 41 42 43

SADAG Mental Health Line: 011 234 4837

Department of Social Development: 082 786 4961

Remember, if you or a friend need advice or help, you can contact me here on Ask Choma, send me a Facebook Message, a Twitter DM, or a WhatsApp Message (071 172 3657)