Tween and Teenagers
Helping Younger Siblings Cope When Older Ones Leave Home
For the past year or so I have been chronicling the changes that have taken place in my life as a result of my daughter going off to college. Focusing on how this change has affected me and my own journey has been very therapeutic for me. Having the opportunity to write and express my feelings has given me the opportunity to work through the emotional stuff allowing my relationship with my daughter to grow and transform into a beautiful new relationship.
Now, I am realizing that this is not all about me; or at least it shouldn’t be all about me. There are two other people in my life that this move has affected in various ways; my husband and my son. As far as my husband goes, it is up to him to work to sort out his feelings and forge his own new relationship with our girl. Men process things differently and I have absolutely no idea how to help him other than listen if and when he wants to talk.
For my son, life has changed dramatically for him and even after a year or more of his sister’s absence; he still struggles to adjust at times. For as long as he can remember life included a family of four. His sister was always present and now he is the only one in the backseat of the car, the only “kid” at the dinner table and the only one going off to school in the morning. The upstairs is quiet with just him in his room and as odd as this sounds, there is no one to share the bathroom with. There are no more complaints of hair in the bath tub or the toilet seat being left up or leftover toothpaste in the sink. One would think that finally having everything to himself he would be over the moon with excitement. That is not the case. To be quite honest I believe he misses those arguments and sometimes I do too. Sometimes the quietness of it all is deafening.
Younger siblings left at home while their counterparts go off to school and enter the world of independence and freedoms, struggle to redefine themselves or figure out their new place on the “totem pole”. As parents we need to help create a sense of security and purpose for those who remain at home. Taking time to talk with those left behind about their feelings and how the family will proceed after this big change is vital. Take this opportunity to create new traditions and routines making sure to enjoy each and every moment of this new chapter in your lives; because before you know it you will be the one left behind.