On this week’s ‘Parenting’ segment, one young girl isn’t coping well with her older sister studying abroad.
“Our eldest daughter has gone on Erasmus to a college in Germany, she’s having the time of her life so far,” one parent told Moncrieff.
“However, her younger sister is 16 and is really missing her... she’s cried at least once a week since she left, she doesn’t want to hang out with us in the evenings watching TV like we all used to do.
“My older girl says she’s getting bombarded with messages until two and three in the morning begging her to come home.”
The parent said they want to support their younger daughter, but they fear the daughter may be “blowing it all out of proportion and looking for attention”.
“Am I being unfair? How much should I acknowledge the discomfort but also get her to accept this new reality?” they asked.
Child psychotherapist Joanna Fortune said the parent is “being a bit unfair” on their daughter and said the younger daughter can likely sense the frustration.
“Don't kid yourself that it isn’t coming across,” she said.
“It may just push her further into those feelings that no one gets her here, so she’s still ringing her sister at two in the morning.”
Joanna said the parents could organise a trip to Germany so their younger daughter can see their older daughter – but until then, they need to provide some comfort for her.
“They're clearly very close which is really lovely that two sisters would be so close, but it might also be leaving her the only one at home with you,” she said.
“The dynamic has shifted... people who are more emotionally sensitive, which isn’t a problem, will feel that absence in a very embodied way.
“To her, that empty bedroom and not being able to talk to her [sister] during the day and talk about her day and fight over make up and music, that’s a massive loss to her.”
Joanna said the parent should give their daughter some time to adjust to the new dynamic that is still very “raw”.
“Don’t tell her how she should feel just respond to how she is,” she said.
“It might be worth putting a little care parcel together with her favourite bits and pieces, and if her sister - who's clearly very busy making a life there - could send her postcards.
“I know they're texting and calling, but there's something about getting a post card.”
Once the daughter feels more supported, then the parents can make sure she isn’t doing anything that could cause “fracture” between the sisters.
“Acknowledge of course you miss your sister, but neither of them can be up at two or three in the morning,” Joanna said.
“Put in a bit of a boundary.”
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