I am eight years older than my sister; we are in two different generations. My earliest memory of her was when my mum brought her home. I still remember the pink and white knitted shawl wrapped around her. She was so tiny. My mum would ask me to watch over her as she did chores. In a way, I have been watching over my sister since then.
As life happens, my sister began to grow. One day I opened my eyes, she’s eighteen years old and in the university. Ah! My sister and I have a close relationship. I strove hard to achieve that relationship because I wanted to be for her the older sister I did not have.
As she got older, I talked to her about the value of relentless hard work and consistency. I talked to her about men and sex, and having a good relationship with God. These were things I believed helped me through that stage of my life. I focused more on the men, not to brag o, but my sister is very pretty. Even before she left home for university men in their thirties were already bothering her, offering to buy expensive gifts etc. Having that male conversation was hard. I couldn’t even believe that the little baby I carried to kindergarten was now a big girl.
When she first started University, I insisted that she must listen to me. If she’s going anywhere with her friends, I wanted to know when, where, how and why. If I don’t like the reasons, I say no. She listened to me, obediently. Then she turned twenty and now she’s twenty-two. The dynamic of our relationship began to change. Although we talk regularly and are still very close, I noticed my sister was making decisions without me. From her Instagram, I’d see that she traveled with some friends. She went to the beach. She has a boyfriend. I don’t particularly like some of her friends.
My first reaction when all these changes were happening was anger. I wanted to pull her ears and tell her what to do, but I also knew that if I made that move, I might destroy our relationship. So, what to do?
It was hard, but instead of seeing her only as my baby sister, I tried to look at her as a young woman. I took a step back from dictating. I had to trust that what I have taught her would guide her through life.
To encourage her to share her private life with me, I also opened up about my private life. That is my struggles, vulnerabilities etc.
I also had to stop being a “mother figure” and learned to be her friend. These days, when we talk, it’s like gisting with an old friend. From my position as her elder sister, I then advise her and give my suggestions and opinions. It’s left for her to make her own decisions.
Have you been in a similar situation? How did you handle it?