Today, we welcome another great guest post from our intern, Frannie Monahan. If you're a sibling or the parent of siblings, Frannie's keen insights will help you keep things in perspective. Lisa
Sibling relationships come in a colorful spectrum. In some cases siblings can be the best of friends, and in others, the worst of adversaries. However, most of the time, siblings fall somewhere in between.
My little sister and I have a vastly dynamic relationship. Having five years between us, we are worlds apart in our perspectives. That being said, while we get along for the most part, we definitely have our fair share of problems seeing eye to eye–– And not in the way of height differences. I am definitely destined to be the shortest in this family ––That’s why when first going away to college, I was surprised when I began to really miss my sister.
When summer-break rolled around, I was excited to get to spend time with her, especially since whenever I came home for shorter breaks during the year we got along beautifully and hardly bickered at all.
However three months is a lot longer than three weeks, and being apart for most of the year, my sister and I found that both of us had changed a lot, and thus so did our relationship. This was a bit of a shock at first, but eventually we were able to figure out the new dynamics between us and are now closer than ever.
Upon reflection, these were the few exercises I found helpful while maneuvering my new relationship with my little sister:
Get to Know the New Yous.
We are always changing ourselves. Especially as young people, we are constantly experimenting with our opinions and interests in order to better understand who we are. Ask your sibling what they’ve been up to. Even if it’s as simple as asking what his or her current favorite band is, you’re still getting closer to understanding who your sibling is at that moment in life.
Respect Each Other’s Growth.
My sister has grown up a lot over the past year. Without me around, she’s become a lot more independent and has had a lot of headspace to begin determining who she is for herself without being influenced by my opinions and examples. When I came home, I found myself constantly underestimating her maturity, and disregarding a lot of her new ideas and opinions. I had to learn to accept and respect that my baby sister is her own person who is mature and validated in her opinions, even if they aren’t the same as my own.
Take a Break.
Spending time together is great, but space is good too. Remember, you’re different people who need different things. Give yourselves a break once in a while to avoid straining yourselves over your differences.
Before you know it, you’ll both be full-fledged grownups with lives of your own, so it’s important to not grow apart during these last few years of childhood or young adulthood. This is a time to make memories with your siblings, so that you can enjoy them together in the many years to come.
Your turn: Have you experienced a change in your relationship with your sibling(s) after going away to college? Do you have a special way of maintaining a connection with your sibling? (i.e. an activity you enjoy doing together, or a common interest you have)
Franziska Monahan is journalism student at the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication. She is a member of both the production and news teams at the University of Oregon campus radio station, KWVA. She also contributes and produces stories for the new UO radio show, This Oregon Life.