What does "glass child" mean? Viral TikTok slang explained

TikTokers share their story of their family dynamics on the platform. (Image via @Samcity & @tragic.fate/ TikTok)
TikTokers share their story of their family dynamics on the platform. (Image via @Samcity & @tragic.fate/ TikTok)

Every now and then, a new slang emerges on TikTok and takes the internet by storm. The latest of these terms is “glass child.” Many social media users have been using the term to talk about their family dynamics and stories about their life and family.

A glass child is someone who has grown up in a family where their siblings are given more attention due to a physical or emotional disability. Urban Dictionary defines the term as follows:

“A glass child is the one who is growing up in a home with a sibling who takes up a disproportionate amount of parental energy. This can be a child with an obvious physical or emotional disability, it can be a child with an addiction, a serious illness, or significant behavioral issues.”
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The term “glass” is used, as many people on social media have pointed out that their parents look right through them in an effort to cater to the other child. Many have also used the term to open up about their own traits, as glass children feel that they are more mature due to their family dynamics.

The term was also popularized by TEDx speaker, Alicia Arena, in 2010.

“Glass children take on these caretaker responsibilities and naturally we are conditioned not to have any problems. We are supposed to be perfect. When someone asked us how we were doing, the answer is always: I’m doing fine,” she said

While the term has been on social media for a while now, it has suddenly become popular as netizens are now using it to talk about their own experiences while growing up.


TikTokers are sharing their “glass child” videos with a specific audio

As more and more people have started sharing their videos on TikTok, the glass child hashtag has garnered millions of views. Many are posting their stories with some specific lines from Fourth of July by Sufjan Stevens. The lyrics of the song being shared on TikTok are:

“Did you get enough love, my little dove? Why do you cry?”

As per Charlie Health, as many as 8% of kids in the US grow up in families where one of the kids has been chronically ill. From sharing stories of their siblings having cancer to revealing that they have now become family psychologists due to their relatability with the issue, more and more netizens are now talking openly about the term and their experience as a child who was neglected at home.

Charlie Health also talks about how parents can assess if their kid is feeling like a glass child and might need some more attention. In such cases, kids often experience anxiety, depression, or act withdrawn.

At the same time, they also appear to be angry or lose out interest in school and act out to try and get attention.

On the other hand, Standard UK also talked about how feeling this way as a child can affect kids long-term, as they may experience hopelessness, isolation, depression, and anxiety. At the same time, many psychologists are also speaking up on the matter and raising awareness to help those who might be dealing with similar issues.

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