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While other kids are playing Little League and having sleepovers, more than a million children are quietly managing their entire families. According to the National Alliance for Caregiving, 1.4 million children are becoming the head of their families because of sick or deceased parents.

"They are so incredibly mature and they bear such heavy responsibilities unlike any of the kids their age," Oprah Show correspondent Lisa Ling says. "And these kids, they're forced to become little adults."

Lisa flew to West Virginia to meet 13-year-old Megan. Her childhood came to an abrupt halt last year after a tragic series of events.

Megan's mother gave birth to the family's fifth child two and a half months early. While the baby was hospitalized and on life support, Megan's mom was diagnosed with cervical cancer. Shortly after, Megan's coal miner father lost his job and health insurance. "I realized my mom and dad needed more help," Megan says.

Megan instantly became head of the household, caring for her four siblings, sick mother and bedridden grandmother. "She's 13," says Tammy, Megan's mom. "She shouldn't have to worry about things like this."  
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FROM: Childhood Interrupted
Published on October 20, 2006

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