I found out recently that I’m carrying another girl, and at first I was so relieved. Not only could I reuse my daughter’s adorable lavender bedding and clothes, I wouldn’t have to face some of my biggest parenting fears, like faking a love of trucks and getting peed on in the face. Boys are delicious, but their boundless energy and nonstop motion terrifies me. As an older, very tired mom, I was grateful I wouldn’t have to chase one.
People teased my husband about not getting a son, but he wasn’t the least bit upset to learn he’d be living in Girl World. So what if there’s nobody to talk football with — he likes being king of the castle around here. It’s going to be an estrogen fest, especially when they’re teenagers, but he’ll always have two daddy’s little girls in his corner.
So to recap, one daughter is great! Two daughters are awesome! Until I suddenly realized, my two kids are going to be….SISTERS. And then I panicked.
I grew up with a younger brother:
We spent our early years slap-fighting (mostly instigated by me — I was a brat). By high school, he had miraculously forgiven me and started coming to me for fashion and dating advice, which made him my favorite person. Being different genders, we were easily able to form our own identities within the family. I had a slightly better social life. He went to a slightly better university. We were happy for each other. I didn’t even feel jealous when he got married first (I suspect it’s different with a sister.) And, even better, we never dealt with any of these classic pitfalls that girls with sisters have to deal with:
1. Pulling each other’s hair
2. Stealing each other’s makeup
3. Copying each other’s look
4. Flirting with the same crush
5. Going out for the same role in the school play
6. Competing over looks/weight/bra size
I have no idea how to prevent these and other issues from arising between my two girls. Everything I know about sisters, I learned watching Disney movies. My main takeaway from Frozen is that if you separate sisters into different wings of the palace, they will miss each other and fight less. I’m not sure how to do this in a two-bedroom townhouse.
So this morning, I asked my friend Alma if she’d have coffee with me and talk sisters. She is the mother of two well-behaved, cooperative, loving little girls, and I wanted to know all her secrets. Conveniently, she summed up her sister raising advice into three main points:
1. Never pit sisters against each other. As tempting as it may be, avoid saying things like, “Look, your sister finished all her peas.”
2. Don’t assign them roles within the family, like “the smart one” and “the funny one.” Let them find their own paths. Maybe they’re both smart and funny.
3. Play with birth order expectations. Don’t always make it the big one’s job to look out for the little one. Instead, tell baby sister to “hold your big sister’s hand and make sure she is safe crossing the street.” This helps them both learn to look out for each other without being stuck in the big/little roles.
Good advice, right? I will endeavor to follow it. Maybe it’s going to be okay after all — unless one of them is born with ice powers.
Do you have any advice for raising sisters?