Wednesday, February 23, 2011


This past President's Day Weekend, my husband and I got a taste of what it's like to be Empty Nester's. On Friday we put Francesca, our youngest daughter, on a plane to Berkeley, CA to spend a few days with her older sister, Alessandra.
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."


Dionne said...

Awww... How cute, her first solo plane trip. Being the oldest sibling in my family, I remember when my sister and I started to be friends, when that age gap closed. I can't wait until my husband and I have kids and see that happen!

bedbug said...

I so appreciate your post on this very important relationship between siblings who have a considerable age difference. My youngest daughter is a single mother, and her daughters are 14 and 6. My 'mother's heart' is holding it's breath, for the day when Eleigh (14)leaves home, as she is a surrogate mother to Bella (6), and Bella's best friend (in Bella's own words!)

Thankyou for the hope that this special bond they share will continue to blossom into an even richer relationship as they learn to relate more and more as friends. Your insights are timely for this nostalgic grandma!

Rosanna Bowles said...

Dionne & Bedbug, I'm excited for my oldest to be back from college next month. It will be nice to see her and her sister together again.