Siblings are precious maybe the idea is not entirely based on cheesiness when Bengali cinemas crown big sisters or brothers as the paragon of motherly or fatherly love and the most selfless people in the world! Elder siblings do indeed cater to the best interest of his/her little ones; the ones who are accustomed to babysitting younger siblings perceive themselves to be nearest to parents and more than just brothers or sisters. Deep down they want to set examples for the little big eyed ‘mini-mes’ to follow, they want to become their best friends and keep them updated of the dangers ahead in the world, so they do not face the obstacles he/she did in absence of the banyan tree called big brother/ big sister above their heads. While all of this is true, there is a fine line between loving your siblings and spoiling them; to many of us it is the same. So, if it is our desire to be someone who our little buddies can look up to, we have to be serious about how we conduct ourselves.
Being the eldest child, you might experience moments where you feel like the sanest person in the family or know too many family secrets for your own good and you just want to forget everything and create a scene. Pause yourself right there, just remember two knee-sized ball of emotions who also happen to have the most incredible memory right now according to psychology are staring at you, noting down everything you say, each of the ways you behave. If you lash out, they have it in their photographic memory, if you stay humble and handle the situation diplomatically, they note that down too. Unbelievable? I beg to differ, no, not at all, wait a week or even less and you will see how perfectly they recreate your performance from the other day. It is at the same time both fascinating and scary to see how easily you can mould someone else’s life; it is almost like having a divine power. Not to mention, the inevitable guilt will always be there when you see them going astray following you.
Be True to Yourself:
When you have a sibling not much younger than yourself, the possibilities of forming a clandestine group of your own is very likely. You tend to share secrets and they have the post of a middle-man in your life with regard to many things including family or personal life. In all this, they closely observe you, if you tell them to lie to your parents, they do but they also learn that it is a normal thing to do. Here, I am not discouraging sibling-intimacy and compassion or even keeping little secrets from the family but you have to have the ability to judge your actions, you cannot do anything beneath yourself and share it with them like it is nothing. Zafar Iqbal in his “Dosshi Kojon” once said, “never do something that you cannot open up to your mom about”, same goes for siblings. More so in this case because you have a sacred responsibility towards them as a half-parent.
Be There for Them:
In the 10 long seasons of F.R.I.E.N.D.S one of the things that remained constant is the sibling love of Monica and Ross. Remember how sensitive Ross was about her younger sister Monica? They fought all the time and yet never left each other’s side. Your siblings deserve a Ross, an intellectual, witty and sympathetic guardian. If you ask me, it only does you good. When parents bash them for their follies, you go ahead and support them, appease your mom and dad for them; also, at the same time let them see where they went wrong. When they go through their tough times as teenagers, make things easier for them, tell them it is alright to be angry or fed up and all of this will go away soon enough. Do not just smooth-talk, give them practical solutions, show how it works so they will learn that you are in this with them, wholeheartedly and not just in an obligatory manner. Now-a-days we sit right across the room from our younger ones but do not correspond with them because of social media craze, we post photos with them, keep tabs on people’s reactions on them but in reality, we grow apart from each other in our hearts. However, on the bright side, this virtual facility can be utilized to educate and make your siblings aware of the happenings around the world, making them realise whether they are on the right or wrong track without giving them the parental vibe. This is where elder siblings can be more than parents. They are like a bridge between two states called Parent and Children.
Don’t Rub it in Their Face:
We know you want the best for your little brothers and sisters, want them to prosper and win in everything but you should not get ahead of yourselves judging them, reminding them of their weaknesses just to make them accomplish a certain goal. Try to respect their decisions, their hobbies, their goals provided they are wise. Sometimes eldest borns are so accomplished themselves that they want their siblings to carry the torch and so do their parents but in all this the youngest children lose their self esteem and the power to voice his/ her demands. In the recent Hindi movie Kapoor and Sons, you will encounter a similar scenario. The moral here is that your siblings want to trust and follow you but if they see you behave as a typical guardian figure like parents and relatives, they might just ignore the inspirational and impactful part in you altogether. So, imagine yourself in their shoes and support them because if you cannot, nobody in the family can.
Sibling-influence is real and the idea can be attested if we just look at a few great personalities. Zafar Iqbal, whom we all love and who shaped many of ours childhood had a tremendous mentor named Humayan Ahmed. He is a legend himself and he set the mark for his siblings to follow. Ahsan Habib who is younger than Zafar Iqbal had both Zafar Iqbal and Humayan Ahmed as elder siblings, he is now renowned for his own accomplishments and has his own identity. The William sisters are there too, Venus who was famous from the beginning inspired her younger sister Serena who says
“no one gets me more motivated than her (Venus) because I don’t want her to catch up with me.”
Michael Jackson single-handedly pulled the Jacksons’ legacy from decay and made a glorious mark on music history, inspired his brothers and sisters at the same time. So if you are one of them who want to be there at the stage with the full sibling squad, you better remember to put on your best self in front of the younger ones.