I am an older sister of four. It isn’t always easy, but I wouldn’t change it for the world and the bond I share with my siblings is something very special. Here are some of my thoughts on the infamous role of the eldest sister!
Being an older sister is a unique role in our society. It comes with many responsibilities, joys and challenges! The experience is different for everyone, but the rollercoaster of emotions it brings is a ride many of us will be familiar with. Watching your younger siblings grow up is surreal! When you have been a part of a child’s life since they were born, seeing them develop into their own person is magical. You are able to enjoy all the fun of raising a child, helping your parents through the journey, and being a bonus strong female role model for your lucky little siblings!
Sisters, what makes us so important?
I think this partnership between sisters, siblings and mothers is representative of how women supporting women is something which can be taught in early childhood! Being able to share wholehearted love between women is a privilege, one that older sisters in particular have many opportunities to work with. While it should not be compulsory, it is beautiful how so many young women welcome becoming a central part of their younger siblings’ lives and support their mothers through parenthood.
“I’m happy to be with my sister. In a weird way, I spent my childhood watching her, looking up to her. It’s just wonderful”, said Jake Gyllenhaal about sister Maggie via womansworld.com. Being a big sister means being the shoulder to cry on, the best friend, the role model, the peacemaker, and so much more. You’re the one they can approach with questions they might not feel comfortable asking your parents, and who they can share clothes and secrets with. It can be a comfort having company and someone to go through your family life with, the good and the bad. However, it can become overwhelming having a sense of authority as the older sibling, especially if there is an age gap between you and as you grow older you begin to have more concerns about their wellbeing!
There Are Joys and Challenges!
It is important to remember that whilst as an older sister you play a key part in your younger sibling’s upbringing, you are not their parent and shouldn’t feel as though all responsibility lies with you. It can be difficult to find the balance between looking out for the ‘little ones’, and knowing when to let them live and learn for themselves. Women and girls often have expectations placed on them from a young age surrounding having a maternal nature. It is vital to note that not all women fall into the stereotype of becoming mothers, therefore it is unfair to assume that every elder sister will embrace such a role. Many will enjoy looking after their smaller family members, but some would rather spend their time in other ways, and that’s okay!
Having a new member of your family can be a hard adjustment in itself. You suddenly have another person to share your home, your parents’ attention, and several other things with! As much as this can be draining, especially when your family is slightly dysfunctional, having someone in the same boat as you can be a blessing! You take on the role of helping to protect, care for and teach your new younger sibling. This is, quite frankly, a life changing event! The outcomes of which are lifelong, and can only truly be understood by other older sisters across the globe.
One of the burdensome things about this position is that you are somewhat required to always set a good example! Older siblings tend to get the brunt of our parents’ worries, and by the time our successors reach the age of pushing boundaries, the rules have become a lot more lenient! This can definitely feel quite unfair, but I believe it’s ultimately a part of the journey, and there are definitely some perks (like getting the biggest childhood bedroom)!
It’s a Complex Relationship, But An Amazing One
No one can rile you up quite like a younger brother or sister can! They steal your stuff, don’t tidy up, and just generally aggravate you. The arguments you have both physical and verbal can be vicious, and contrary to popular belief, still occur even in adult life, but they are quickly forgotten! Despite your differences, you will relentlessly defend your siblings should anyone else have an issue with them, and they would do the same for you. Parade.com reports that Beyoncé once said: “Don’t talk about my sister; don’t play with me about my sister. If you do, you’ll see another side of me.” Additionally, you’re always the first to let each other know if an outfit isn’t looking right, or if you’ve said something wrong. Honesty is the best policy!
All in all, regardless of all the times they have you tearing your hair out with frustration, worry or just plain rage, the love you have for your ‘mini me’ is unconditional. Family life wouldn’t be the same without each other and even if it’s usually unspoken, the bond is there for life. “I’m happy to be with my sister. In a weird way, I spent my childhood watching her, looking up to her. It’s just wonderful,” said Jake Gyllenhaal about sister Maggie.
Shoutout to all of the big sisters out there, however old you and your siblings are! You’re doing an amazing job and they are lucky to have you. We see you and we appreciate you.