You and your sister can face family challenges together.

Topics to Discuss With Your Big Sister

by Kathryn Rateliff Barr

Some people can talk to their big sister about almost anything, from how to deal with the parents to love interests to life issues. A close relationship with your sibling is helpful when dealing with the difficult issues of life and when celebrating the joyful ones. Talking to your sister when things are strained can be challenging, but also important to maintaining a healthy relationship with her.


As your parents age, you and your big sister might need to help them cope with such issues as health and living arrangements. If your parents are in poor health, talk about who will care for them and deal with their finances so they can live out their final years in as much ease as possible. You and your big sister might share in the care of your parents to reduce costs or to help alleviate the stresses associated with caring for aging parents. If they are still capable of caring for themselves, talk about ways to help them stay in their home with you helping out when required. As the older sibling, your sister could feel that she has more wisdom or right to determine these decisions or she could be willing to share the decisions equally.

Life Events

Your big sister can be a significant resource in your life because she is older and may have experienced things you have not yet. If your sister is already in college or has recently graduated, she could help you plan what you need to take with you to college and what can be left behind. She may have some good tips about whether such issues as saving money while living off campus and preparing your own meals. When your older sister becomes a parent before you, she can talk about her experiences during pregnancy, raising a baby and juggling life with a small child before you face those challenges. She could be one of the first people to hear you’re engaged, pregnant or even headed for divorce because she has always been there for you.

Family History

Growing up in the same family can encourage you to talk to your big sister about spirituality and life issues related to family as you plot your own course in life. Your sister may have fewer negative emotions when you question the family faith, decisions about higher education, sexuality and other choices that you face as you grow older. If your family had addiction issues and other challenges when you were growing up, your big sister can encourage you to seek counseling to put your life on a healthy path and to help you deal with your negative family history. You can work together to help other family members live healthy emotional and mental lives.

Sibling Care Plans

If you have a disabled or challenged younger sibling, you and your sister can make plans to ensure quality care for the sibling when your parents are no longer able to care for that sibling. With autism and other mental challenges on the rise, many siblings will have to consider care issues for adult siblings after parents have passed on or are no longer able to provide care. A time could come when you have to consider managed care, life training skills, adult day care and other options for your siblings. These discussions will not be easy, but you will want to ensure that your and your sister can agree what options are suitable for your beloved family members.

About the Author

Rev. Kathryn Rateliff Barr has taught birth, parenting, vaccinations and alternative medicine classes since 1994. She is a pastoral family counselor and has parented birth, step, adopted and foster children. She holds bachelor's degrees in English and history from Centenary College of Louisiana. Studies include midwifery, naturopathy and other alternative therapies.

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