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Five Ways To Cope When An Older Sibling Goes Off To College


When an older sibling goes off to college, it can be a stressful time for the entire family. With your brother or sister away, your family dynamic probably has changed a little. You might have been given additional responsibilities or your parents’ expectations of you may be different. On top of all that, you’re probably missing your older sibling’s leadership and protection. Here are a few things that you can do to get through this trying time:

Pray. Never underestimate the power of prayer! The Holy Spirit is your comforter so ask Him for help during this hard time.

Allow yourself to adjust. It’s okay to feel sad; it’s a natural response. Your sibling has probably been a source of security and stability for all of your life and his/her absence from home is new to you. This sadness might be around for a little while AND THAT’S OKAY! You’ll need some time to adjust to this new situation. However, if your sadness becomes overwhelming to the point that you’re feeling extremely depressed for long periods of time or you’re thinking about hurting yourself, then you should seek guidance from a responsible adult IMMEDIATELY.

Schedule some quality time. Remember, your sibling is temporarily away from home but s(he)’s not gone forever! Although your sister or brother may not be home every day, keep in mind that s(he) is only a call or email away. When you’re missing your big brother give him a call or plan a visit. Or you could coordinate with your amazing big sister to predetermine a standard day and time for your weekly chat. Also, don’t forget to make the best out of holidays and school vacations by spending some time with your big brother or sister when s(he) is home.

Keep yourself occupied. While you’re adjusting to life with your sibling away, you may feel a little lonely at times. To combat this loneliness, you may want to get involved with new activities. This could be anything from joining a new club at school to volunteering for a local mission. It can be as simple as deciding to read a certain number of books per week to something more complex like training for a marathon. It doesn’t matter what it is as long as you’re occupying your time with activities that you enjoy!

Enjoy your new role! The family dynamic may have changed slightly but you should make it a point to enjoy your new role. Maybe you’re now the eldest sibling at home; if that’s the case, your younger siblings are probably looking up to you as the big sister. Or maybe you’re now the only child left who lives at home full time. Although this may mean more responsibility, it could also mean more privileges. As your parents become more aware of how responsible you are, you might be surprised at the additional liberties that they permit to you. So take a moment to assess your new role and embrace it!

Anyone else have any suggestions?

Image: Christy Thompson | Veer


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  1. Project Inspired

    Posted by USMCsisterOorah on January 20, 2015 at 14:46

    I’m the youngest and this did help me. Though by the time my brother closest in age to me went away to college I had already experienced something like this, my two oldest brothers went into the U.S. Marine Corps. I have to say prayer is the best thing or write letters even if u don’t mail them just write out your feelings! 🙂

  2. Project Inspired

    Posted by halelover97 on January 7, 2012 at 20:22

    My brother and I have never been really close, but we have our moments and I am NOT looking forward to him leaving for college. I am def. going to try these steps! Thanks!

  3. Project Inspired

    Posted by 19soccerangel19 on November 23, 2011 at 15:03

    It’s harder if they choose the military and they get deployed for six months right before a holiday.

  4. Posted by on November 19, 2011 at 17:18

    I just got back (like 5 minutes ago walked into my house after a 9hr drive) from the college i’ll be attending next fall and then came on here and saw this and now i feel sort of guilty for leaving… i have two older siblings who are grown and married and two little sisters who are still at home. i know i have to go to college to get a good education to have a good life, but i’ve been worrying about how they’ll handle me being gone for so long. i’m going to show them this article when i leave, so thank u for writing this 🙂

    • Posted by Nicole on November 20, 2011 at 22:23

      wow then this article was meant to be and you were supposed to see it! 🙂

      • Posted by on November 21, 2011 at 07:34

        yup 🙂 God knows what He’s doing.

  5. Paris

    Posted by Paris on November 19, 2011 at 08:41

    Love it!

  6. Posted by on November 18, 2011 at 21:48

    Thank you so much! I really needed this

  7. GoatyGirl

    Posted by GoatyGirl on November 18, 2011 at 08:11

    I’m the oldest in our family, so I’m going to be the one leaving. But one of my sisters is already complaning about me leaving, when it’s at least five years away!

  8. Posted by on November 17, 2011 at 18:50

    I’m sending this to my friend who’s big sis is at this cool university! I hope she’ll like this! 😀

  9. Posted by on November 17, 2011 at 13:29

    I can’t wait till I’m 18 and a legal adult and can leave America. I mean I love my parents, friends, and all, but I want to start a new adventure. I want to Africa and help the poor. America is too materalistic.

    • Project Inspired

      Posted by RachelMarie on November 17, 2011 at 19:33

      I agree. I’ll be sad to leave and more than likely homesick, but its time for me to get some space, and do what i want to do, you know?