Dear Older Sibling: What You Need to Know Before You Leave For College

Our house has been abuzz these last few weeks. As the lazy days of summer wind down, the frenzy around your departure gains momentum. The dining room has become the staging area for the big day. A comforter set, over sized pillow, and anything that can be used as stackable storage dwarf the table. It’s the most action this formal room has seen in years.

Mom alternates between crying and snapping at everyone. Dad mutters about fitting all this stuff in the car. And we, your siblings, are extras in this epic drama known as College Drop-off.

Here's what younger kids want their older sibling to know before college starts.

We have been there with you from the beginning, Spending vacations and breaks touring college campuses. Suffering through the administrative buildings, in awe of the dining hall and athletic facilities and proud owners of t-shirts from every single bookstore we visited.

It seemed so far away then; more like an adventure than a reality. Not once during the tours did it dawn on us that you would be living in one of those dorms and not in your bedroom down the hall.

There will be an extra seat in the car and at the table. And a huge gaping hole in our hearts.

So, as you begin this new chapter, we ask a few things of you.

1. Make time for us before you go. It doesn’t have to be any big deal. A trip to McDonald’s, hitting balls at the driving range, seeing a movie or anything that you know we would enjoy. We understand you have a lot of people to say goodbye to, but the gift of time makes this most important goodbye easier.

2. Don’t just call mom and dad. Call, Facetime or text us too. Tag us on Facebook, send us a Snap Chat story or funny video. These little things will make us feel like we are still a part of your life.

3. And when you contact us, remember to ask about our lives. We know you are spreading your wings, but in smaller ways, so are we. Take a moment to wish us luck or offer congratulations; it takes away from our moment if we think you have outgrown us.

4. Come home. We really can’t imagine what a pain it is to come home and endure the confines of family life after a taste of freedom. Do it anyway. When you are here, sit down to meals with us, stop by one of our games or just chat. Yes, your friends are more fun but we need that normalcy.

5. Be patient. Everything is changing. Our compass is a little off making us needier just when you are stressed the most.

Most importantly, remember that we are excited for you. We have spent years following your lead. So your college experience, like so many events before it, will shape ours.

We fledglings in the nest will look on as you retreat toward the horizon and will be waiting right here when you reappear.


What Happens to the Third Child When Older Siblings Leave 

The “Sibling Factor” In College Choice 

About Maureen Stiles

Maureen Stiles is a Washington DC based freelance journalist, columnist and editor. With over a decade of published work in the parenting and humor sector, Maureen has reached audiences around the globe. In addition to published works, she has been quoted in the Washington Post and The New York Times on topics surrounding parenting and family life. Maureen is the author of The Driving Book for Teens and a contributor to the book Grown and Flown: How to Support Your Teen, Stay Close as a Family, and Raise Independent Adults as well as regularly featured on Today's Parenting Community and Grown and Flown.

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