Sometimes Jonathan Gutierrez' mom cries because she feels so humiliated that he has to look after her. But the 15-year-old always reassures her.
"If I cry, he yells at me, 'Don’t cry Mommy, don’t cry. This is not something that I don’t want to do. I love you,'” Jennifer Gutierrez said.
Now the teenager, who cares for his sick mom, grandmother and brother while his father works 60 hours a week, is getting viral attention for the sacrifices he makes for his family.
Jonathan, of Boca Raton, Florida, is a high schooler who spends most of his time as a caregiver for his family members.
Jonathan's mom, Jennifer, has multiple sclerosis and his grandmother has pre-dementia. He helps his mom with everyday tasks and makes sure his grandma takes her medicine. His brother also has sagittal craniosynostosis, and has had seven surgeries in his seven years of life.
Jonathan's dad has two jobs, working long hours each day to try and provide for the family. So, during the week, Jonathan runs the household.
"Without Jonathan here, I couldn't do everything by myself...There's some days I can't lift my head off the pillow," Jennifer said. “I have three really good weeks and one really bad week...that week I don’t walk.”
“I usually have to carry her to her bed, help her go to the bathroom, make sure she’s OK," Jonathan added, describing the bad weeks.
He also helps his younger brother with his homework, makes dinner and does whatever else his mom needs.
Jonathan is a member of the American Association for Caregiving Youth program at his high school. They have group meetings and also go on outings together to try to take a short break from their stressful lives.
“They understand what you’re going through," Jonathan said.
Jonathan recently spoke with Vice News about caring for his family, and the Facebook video has an estimated 1.9 million views. Jennifer hopes it lets other kids know they're not alone and encourages more programs around the country to help young people who are caregivers.
“He will make a difference for everybody," Jennifer said. "For all the kids that don’t know about the programs.”
Sacrificing his teenage years for the sake of his family is all for one reason: love.
“It’s humiliating, but he doesn’t make me feel that way. I feel that way myself," Jennifer said.
“She tells me every day how much she loves me and how much she appreciates me," Jonathan said. "It means a lot to me. I love her so much.”