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How do you help younger siblings cope with the oldest sibling leaving?

  • My oldest is officialy 18 ( March 23rd) he has joined the Army and will be reporting to active duty on Wednesday. Everyone has been used to this idea for a year now. This weekend and today have been chaotic at the least, my kids are freaking out!! They are playing every scary scenerio you can think. I grew up a marine brat and can relate to their fears. I am not getting through at all. Ideas, suggestions, tips, help!!!
    Flag as inappropriate Posted by on 24th March 2008
  • My situation is somewhat different, but maybe the similarities will be helpful?

    My youngest children are 3 and 1; their older siblings are 9 1/2, 12, and 14, and they split their time between us in one state and their mom and stepdad in another, so we do a lot of arriving and leaving. I have pictures of their big siblings all over the house, and especially next to (or in) the little ones' beds. It makes them happy to see their big sisters and brother's loving and familiar face everywhere, and there has never been a time, even as infants, when they didn't recognize their big siblings, even after a several-week-long absence.

    Now, my big kids, they have two older stepbrothers, one who just graduated from college, and another who joined the Coast Guard just a few months ago. Writing letters, emailing, and just talking about their adored older stepbrothers has helped a lot.

    Kids are smart; telling them that the scary scenarios they're thinking about "will never happen" or minimizing their fears often doesn't help. Since you grew up in the military, I'm sure you have much better coping strategies than I can think of, but I'd suggest that you keep letting them talk about what they're worried about, and have them pour their energy into something creative, if possible. A memory book to give their brother after basic training... letters to send while he's still in boot camp... a journal to trade back-and-forth once he's able to write (and to receive) things like that. Anything that keeps the connection healthy and happy...

    I'd love to hear what other WIM members think of... I'm always looking for ways to keep the sibling connection up and running...
    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Lylah M. Alphonse on 25th March 2008
  • I'm the oldest sibling in my family, and my youngest sister was three when I went off to college. It was a really tough transition, but one thing that helped was that she would dictate letters to me, and my Mom would write down what my sister said word for word. It was so awesome to be able to hear that little voice coming through those letters. I still have all of them and cherish them. Lylah's suggestions sound really good to me. I haven't been in your exact situation, but I do know that sometimes it's good to let kids just express how sad or scared they are. Also, just remember to talk about your son who is away a lot. I think it makes that person seem more present. Best wishes to you and your family!
    Flag as inappropriate Posted by mamajama on 25th March 2008
  • Thank you all for your great suggestions! We are having a Kory celebration this evening. Great minds think alike, I had bought a really great memory book a few weeks ago and have been sending it all around the family, it's been filled with great stories, gift cards, recipes, tips, advice and all types of other trinkets.

    Today I have been trying to get the kids to talk and open up, it's been a good day. Once they see they can talk to him and that he is ok I think they will be ok to.

    Thank you so much for all your input, it is so great to be able to talk to others!
    Flag as inappropriate Posted by on 25th March 2008
  • My oldest is 25 and is in the Army. He is married and has 2 daughters. His is stationed in Germany and is leaving for Iraq(this is his 3rd tour) this week. My husband and I are having a hard time with this. I think more then the other 2 times. The 3 teenagers are ok with it.

    My 2nd son is in college but lives at home my old daughter(they are 3 yrs apart) had a terrible time when the son got a girlfriend that has been around for a year now. I can't wait to see what happens when he moves out. Maybe it won't be to bad sense he isn't home much anyway.
    Flag as inappropriate Posted by crazymomof04 on 31st March 2008
  • My oldest (19) just moved to Florida from California for school and my girls miss him so much.Me too!

    Thanks Goodness for myspace and phone calls.( and that there is no charge for cell to cell!)

    We have a schedule Sunday Night call at dinner time since I am a freak about having my family at the dinner table(MIL,FIL,GIL EVERYONE there) and so he calls in so he is will us for a few minutes for prayer and the nights discussion.
  • Thank you everyone for your notes!!
    Flag as inappropriate Posted by on 7th April 2008

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