Hi, I'm your big brother. Remember me?
February 18, 2009 6:00 PM Subscribe
How do I connect with a half-sister who is only six years old? Details of our estrangement and additional background inside.
posted by snapped to human relations (24 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I am a 26-year-old married male living in Louisiana, while my grandmother, mother, and half-sister reside in Georgia. I have long struggled to remain connected to my mother since my parents split over a decade ago. My mom is mentally ill and has struggled since I was about one year old. She is, in a word, difficult. My sister is phenomenal considering the adversity she's had to deal with at such a young age.
Since Hurricane Katrina, the three of them have lived out of state, and so I've had limited contact with them except for phone calls and occasional mail. My mom tries her best to keep me updated on the three of them, but I frequently disappoint her. I promise to return calls, send photos, etc., but I am unreliable. Dealing with my mother is emotionally draining for me, mostly because I feel guilt and sympathy but know there is literally nothing I can do. She is not employed, but rather collects disability and other state and federal assistance. My grandmother is in the same situation, and so the two of them survive mostly due to government aid and the kindness of strangers such as churches and volunteer organizations.
Ella, my sister, is being raised by these two women. Her father is not known to her, and we would all like to keep it that way. She recently was blessed with a Big Sister from the Big Brothers/Big Sisters program, and has many people in her life who care for her and protect her. However, I don't consider myself one of those people. While my mother tells me she asks about me frequently, and can recognize my voice and face, she doesn't KNOW me. We haven't even seen each other since before Katrina, almost four years ago.
I desperately want to be a part of her life, even if it is a small part. My biggest barrier at this point, besides the distance, is not knowing how to connect with her. I don't know what six-year-old girls like, and I'm not keen on googling that for fear of the FBI arriving at my door. Are there books on this topic? Have any of you in the hive mind dealt with a similar situation? Are there support groups for this?
I want to connect with her on her level and let her know that I will always be available to her, despite the distance and our age difference. I don't even know if this is a concept six-year-old children understand. My wife's advice is to give it time, but I fear that not connecting and reaching out will just make the gap between us wider as she grows older. In other words, if I wait until she is fourteen, it might be too late.