At first, I was nervous about Francesca's trip. She's my baby! But, when she arrived back home that Monday night, emitting an astonishing and unmistakable new aura of confidence, I forgot about my concerns. I knew that agreeing to the trip had been the right choice.
I realize now that encouraging your children to spend an extended period of time together on their own can be one of the most powerful ways to perpetuate close bonds between siblings. Something magical and crucial to closeness happens when siblings hang out without their parents around, at least that's what my older daughter tells me.
For my girls, who are eight years apart, this year couldn't have been a better time for this trip to happen. Francesca, who's 14, and Alessandra, who's 22, are finally starting to relate to each other as peers; their age gap is finally starting to close.
For a younger sibling at the seminal point of transition into life as a young adult, spending time with an older sibling can be an especially profound and impactful experience. I didn't realize it until after Francesca's trip, but an older sibling can be an incredible resource in raising younger children. Here is another person who can provide perspective, introduce new worldviews and get your younger children to start thinking about the life stages that lie a little further down the road. As an added bonus, because younger siblings generally regard older siblings as the most gloriously cool humans to ever walk the earth, they're much more likely to incorporate the values we hope to teach them when those values are modeled by their big brothers and sisters.
We all know that it takes a village to raise a child. But as you search out role models and mentors who will help your children grow into their full potential, don't look too far; they may be right under your nose. They may even call you "mom."