Anyone who has a big sister knows just what a tempestuous relationship it can be. There are days your older sister feels like the most amazing person ever, someone you look to in every way—and other days when you just can’t freaking stand her.
As you both get older, the relationship changes in many ways, but at its core it remains one of the most important relationships you’ll ever have in your life. On those days when you just can’t stand your older sister, here are some reminders of why she’s the most amazing gift your parents ever gave you!
1. She took all the flak from your parents so you didn’t have to.
While being the eldest child does have its high points, as your big sister will be the first to remind you, it has a lot of low points too.
Your older sister was there first (duh), so she was the one that your parents focused all of their worry and paranoia on. She was the one who got in a ton of trouble for a “C” on her report card, whereas you got a pat on the back and, “Do better next semester.”
She was the one who got yelled at for staying out late, whereas you just slipped in the back door without the slightest reprimand. She was the one who was pressured to major in a “practical” field in college when she didn’t want to. You got away with majoring in basket weaving.
Parents tend to “mellow out” a bit with their younger children. Why? Your older sister proved that you could get a low grade, stay out late, and major in what you want to without your life falling to pieces. She did all the hard work of getting things into perspective for your parents so you didn’t have to. You owe her a big thank-you for that!
2. She could tell off your enemies without making you look like a loser.
When you’re a really, really little kid, you might get away with running to mommy or daddy when you can’t deal with the bullies on the playground anymore. But past the age of 5 or 6, that really doesn’t work anymore. It just makes your playground woes that much worse.
Calling in your older sister on the other hand works like a charm. It doesn’t make you look bad; it just makes you and your sister look like you have solidarity, and the other kids better not mess with either of you.
3. She gave you a role model to emulate.
When you are really young, you basically have no role models outside of family members, teachers, and other kids you know. That doesn’t give you a whole lot to go on when it comes to developing character or your own opinions.
But just look back and think about what your life would have been like if you had been an only-child, or the oldest child. Your parents would have informed pretty much your entire worldview, at least until you started thinking for yourself. And that is a lot harder to learn how to do without someone else around who has learned to do it first.
Your older sister helped you develop some self-awareness by doing it first. She showed you that it was okay to disagree with your parents, and that there is more than one approach to life.
She taught you that while your parents might be right about a lot of things, sometimes you have to stand up for what you know is right, even if that means going against the grain. Your older sister taught you about the value of integrity, self-confidence, and determination.
4. She helped you grow up.
When you’re a kid, one of the toughest things in the world is growing up, especially since your parents may not want you to. Back when you hit puberty, how many times did you hear your mom or your dad say, “She’s growing up too fast?” Your older sister didn’t say that, though, did she?
She was the one right alongside you, helping you out. If you didn’t know what that double entendre on TV meant, she was the one who explained it to you. If you didn’t know how to use a tampon, she was the one who told you.
She let you know it was okay to have a crush on a boy, to swear when you were angry (or when you weren’t), to watch that R-rated movie. She helped you make that awkward transition from being a girl to being a woman, without holding you back.
5. She did it without talking down to you … too much.
Since your sister is closer to you in age than your parents, she can empathize with you on a more equal level. She isn’t an authority figure, and she doesn’t have to worry about enforcing rules or keeping you naïve.
She doesn’t judge your youthful perspective as valueless just because you’re inexperienced, and she respects your decisions, fears, and dreams. There are times when she might think she’s better than you, even when you become adults, but she can relate to your experiences more closely than your parents can.
6. She helped you pass your classes.
Couldn’t get through Latin 1? If your sister took it the year before, she was the one helping you learn the difference between a declension and a conjugation. Struggled through Algebra 2? Your sister was probably the one who sat down with you a helped you figure out the functions on your graphing calculator.
She warned you what types of questions were going to be on the SAT or ACT, and she told you what the transition into college would be like. Getting through school is a heck of a lot less scary if you have someone around who has already passed all your classes!
7. She helped you out with other aspects of school too.
For example, maybe you got some of her old teachers—hopefully teachers who liked her! They saw your last name and immediately warmed to you, especially when they found out who your older sister was. A little bit of favoritism on your side never goes amiss.
Chances are your sister also warned you about which teachers were going to give you grief, and maybe gave you some advice for not ticking them off. That indispensable advice could make all the difference in the world.
When you first started in secondary school, maybe she was the one who also told you which foods were utterly inedible in the cafeteria, and which part of the hallway to avoid if you didn’t want to get shoved in your own locker.
8. She gave you advice for applying to colleges.
If your sister went to college ahead of you, she could give you some great advice on your college applications, and maybe more importantly, your search for the perfect school.
She was able to provide perspective not just on academics, but also on student life. She could tell you all about sports, clubs, sororities, and other aspects of campus life which may or may not have been in your college brochures.
9. She got you a job.
If you followed in your sister’s footsteps in the professional world and not just in your education, she might have been one of your earliest job references. A reference from an older sister is a great way to get your foot in the door at your first internship or first job.
Employers felt like they already had a pretty good grasp of what working with you might be like. And if you ended up in the same office, it was your older sister who showed you the ropes and mentored you in your new job role!
10. She helped you find your fashion sense.
Maybe you took after your parents when it came to fashion, but maybe not. If your older sister didn’t, she showed you a whole new way to dress. And unlike your parents, she was with it when it came to the times!
She was the one who saved you from going out in that awful sweater your mother tried to make you wear, and let you borrow that cute top. She let you sneak off to that party in her favorite stiletto heels, did your makeup for you, and transformed you into the coolest kid on the block.
11. She covered for you when you needed her to.
If you had too much to drink at that party, your parents never found out, thanks to your older sister who drove you home and made an excuse for you at the door so you could head off to sleep before they picked up on your inebriated state.
When you got in trouble at school, but it didn’t warrant a call to your parents, it was your sister who chose to keep her mouth shut at home. Think how much harder it would have been to get through those situations if you’d been on your own!
12. She taught you how to break the rules.
Since your sister had more experience with Mom and Dad than you, she was able to teach you exactly what you needed to do in order to get away with doing what you wanted.
She was the one who told you whether it was best to take a stand or lie low, or if there was a certain way you could phrase a request so that you’d get a pass.
She let you know exactly where the line was and when you would be crossing it. She learned all of this stuff the hard way so you didn’t have to.
13. She took the heat off of you.
Just as your sister helped “break in” your parents so they would mellow out by the time they got to you, she also took the heat off of you while you were growing up. Parents are almost always tougher on older sisters, even when younger sisters have come into the picture.
Odds are your parents missed about half of the things you did wrong because they were so busy focusing all of their anger on your older sister. She might not have wanted to help you out in that way, but she did, and you still owe her a big thank-you for taking it all so you wouldn’t have to.
14. You got her old clothes.
Whether this was a positive or a negative for you probably depended on your fashion sense and how you felt about your sister’s clothing, but if you grew up admiring her taste, then it was a definite plus!
Her loss was your gain, and you got to wear the same clothes that a year earlier you’d been begging to borrow. And best of all, they were free!
15. You got a lot of her other old stuff too.
A lot of younger siblings inherit more than just clothes from their older sisters. Chances are, you also got books, toys, CDs, video games, school supplies, sports equipment, and much, much more.
16. She introduced you to stuff you love.
Chances are, you don’t share your parents’ exact taste in music, movies, television, and so on. And odds are, you picked up a lot of your tastes from your older sister.
She was the one who shared her CDs and DVDs with you and introduced you to the universe outside your parents’ little bubble. She opened the door for you so that you could discover your own interests.
She made the world a whole lot bigger and gave you a roadmap so that you could explore.
17. She made you dinner.
When your parents went out and left you home with your older sister, she was your babysitter. Maybe she didn’t like it all of the time, but it was the perfect time to introduce you to her favorite movies or music or do your makeup. And she cooked for you!
Her food probably wasn’t gourmet, but sometimes you don’t want gourmet. Sometimes you want macaroni and cheese and cookies and milk. And she didn’t try to take the cookies away from you before you’d had your fill. And only you could appreciate each others’ bizarre culinary experiments.
18. She defended you to your parents.
If your parents came down on you for something unfair, your older sister may have stuck up for you now and again, especially if it was something she herself got away with.
Whether she presented a strong case on your side or acted as an arbiter, she stepped in on your behalf. She may not always have done a great job of it, but it was the thought that counted, and just think where you’d have been without her.
19. She gave you advice for dealing with your enemies.
Assuming she didn’t deal with them outright, your sister probably had some helpful advice when it came to dealing with bullies at school and online. She’d been there first and had gone through a lot of the same things you did, and her advice was often enough to get the harassers to leave you alone.
20. She gave you advice on dating.
If you needed advice on a certain someone, your sister could share her own experiences. Whether it was a question of what to wear on a date or whether or not you should dump a guy, your older sibling had valuable insight to bring to the table.
When you are 13 years old and going on your first date, it can really help out to have a 15- or 16-year-old to ask for advice so you can have an amazing time! And when you are going through your first horrible breakup, it sure helps to have a shoulder to cry on.
21. She gave you rides.
If your parents weren’t willing to drive you to the school or the movie theater or the mall, your sister might have been willing to do it. What a relief not to have to take the bus!
Not only does that spare you from the horror that is public transportation, but it also made you look cooler. And it let you do stuff that you would’ve missed out on if you’d been relying on your parents for a ride.
22. She made you more interesting to your peers.
Okay, well, this depends totally on how popular she was. But if your older sister was considered a pretty exciting person at school, odds were that a little bit of that automatically rubbed off on you. Hopefully it was enough to get you into the right social circles without overshadowing you completely.
Maybe some of her friends also became your friends. And if a bunch of juniors or seniors thought you were “all right” as a freshman, well, that was definitely something. Any freshman with friends in older classes is just going to be respected by default.
23. She helped you learn how to drive.
When it finally came time to get your license, your sister probably provided you with some invaluable assistance behind the wheel.
She might have been a better instructor than your parents since she was less likely to totally freak out at you when you did something dumb—after all, she’d made the same dumb driving mistakes a year or two before. Plus, she knew that you’d then be able to drive her around too.
24. She got you alcohol, etc.
Your older sister wasn’t afraid to bend or break the rules for you. Chances are good that she got you alcohol and other goodies when you couldn’t. She made your parties that much cooler—and hopefully let you off the hook later for whatever massive favor she said you owed her!
25. She forgives you for your irrational anger.
Now and again, all of us have irrational moments. When you blew up at your friends, though, maybe they didn’t forgive you. Your older sister on the other hand has probably forgiven you for all sorts of things that your friends never would. And maybe that’s true to this day.
Even as you get older, your sister is still going to be there for you. After all, you’re related, and you can’t choose your family.
26. She reminds you of your family obligations.
Growing up, you might have gotten tired of hearing how your older sis was “the responsible one.” Most of all, you probably got tired of her reminding you of that personally! It may have given her a cause to feel superior, but it probably came to your rescue more than a few times too.
She’s the one reminding you not to forget your mom’s birthday, or what to say at your grandfather’s funeral. So okay—maybe she’s earned the right to feel a little smug.
27. She’s got your back.
When you were in high school, if your sister was in college, maybe she let you crash at her apartment sometimes. And if you’re both adult siblings now, maybe that hasn’t changed.
Down on your luck? Your sister is the first person you call. She’s still the one who helps you in a pinch and maybe even gives you a place to stay until you can get back up on your feet.
28. She shares all your childhood memories.
Your older sister is someone who can look back with you and reminisce on the past. She shares a lot of your best memories of childhood and a lot of your worst ones too. If you are trying to cope with something painful from your past, she is there to give you some perspective.
She can understand all of the little neuroses you carry with you because of your upbringing better than most. But she also remembers the good stuff, and can still laugh at the private joke you shared when you were still in elementary school together.
29. She can provide perspective on your family.
If you can’t figure out why your parents do the things they do, or why one of your other siblings is behaving like a loser, your older sister can help you make sense of it.
She knew your parents before you did, after all, and she knows stuff about them that you don’t. As such, she understands not only your neuroses, but your family’s neuroses too. She can make it all make sense, or at the very least, try to piece it together with you and commiserate.
30. She’ll always be your best friend.
Your big sister is someone who will be connected to you for the rest of your life, both by blood and by all the memories that you share. No matter where life takes you, you’ll always have someone you can call to talk to about the past or about the present.
Hopefully you’ll be able to get together a few times a year, or if you live close, maybe you’ll get to hang out every week! Either way, your big sister will always be there for you, a friend and role model forever.
Share this article if your big sister was the most amazing gift your parents ever gave you!
— Keep Inspiring Me
To my Older Sister,
You’ve been there through it all—from the confusion of my first tooth loss to the tears and anger of my first heartbreak. You’ve been there with a helping hand, a new playlist for each mood and every road trip and the occasional late night run to Giant for ice cream. I’ve thanked you for a lot, sometimes without even thinking about it, but here’s a thank-you for everything you’ve done for me—you of all people know how much Mom likes a good thank-you note.
Thank you for leading by example and letting me follow you and your older, cooler friends around like a puppy. I’m sure having a tag-along little sister was the absolute last thing you guys wanted, but it meant the world to me when I was allowed to hang out with the “cool” kids. And thanks for still letting me do this today, though I do like to think I’m somewhat less annoying. As for all the times you kicked me out, well, I was the obnoxious younger sister. No hard feelings.
Thank you for all the late-night talks, movies, study sessions and phone calls to help me keep my sanity. When we both still lived at home, my favorite moments were the times you poked your head in my room and asked if I wanted to watch Mean Girls, even though you told me over and over how “contrived” that movie was (SO not fetch). I hate that we live so far apart, but love knowing that every time we're home you'll be willing to watch Baby Mama or yet another episode of The Office with me.
Thank you for understanding my moods that fluctuate more than, well, anything. You always knew when I was about to lose it in a fight with mom and would step in JUST before I said something I would’ve instantly regretted. You always understood when I just needed to flop down on your bed and have a good cry, and would be there to listen to whatever small drama was plaguing me after my store of tears was out. Likewise, you understood when I needed to be alone, let me stew in my room and would still be there to listen whenever I was ready to emerge from “my nest” as mom calls it.
Thank you for driving my extremely unappreciative adolescent self and my equally unappreciative friends everywhere and not noticeably rolling your eyes when all we wanted to listen to was Top 40. Thank you for letting me practice driving your car all over creation when I needed to get my practice hours in—and not yelling at me too much when I hit that pole. As for all the late night drives we went on, whether it was in search of ice cream, food or just to drive—well, thanks for teaching me all the words to Rebel Girl and showing me better music than the bubblegum garbage (or whatever it was you called it) that I listened to. Thank you for picking me up after my first date with the boy of my dreams, letting me giggle about him for the entire ride back and listening to every tiny detail of the evening.
Thank you for sticking by my side through all those family events; all the weddings, dinners, brunches, trips, Thanksgivings, Christmases and vacations— you know, the ones where we were too young to drink and too old to be at the kids table. Together, we drew more monsters than I can count; made up more stories than I can recall; and gossiped about more people than I can remember. And thank you for (sometimes) coming to my defense when I said something stupid at these events and not laughing at me too loudly all the times I did.
Thank you for always picking up my calls, listening to more boy drama than anyone would care to hear in a lifetime, editing my college essays, enduring my never-ending rants about how unfair this class or that teacher was, for keeping me smiling after surgery or the flu, all the times you let me borrow your clothes (even when I didn’t ask), all the inside jokes, and all the times you could’ve told mom and dad but chose to keep yet another secret.
Thank you for being you, sissy. Thank you for being the best role model I could’ve had, and for always keeping me humble, centered and laughing.
Thank you for being my best friend for life. You don’t really have a choice in the matter—we’re in this together.
Infinite X’s and O’s,
Your Little Sister