I know you have your own life to live—full of responsibilities and stresses. You have peer relationships to nurture, homework to do, chores to complete, and a future to plan. It’s been quite a few years since I was an older teen, but I do remember how tough those years can be.
But there are some very important little eyes watching you and desperately longing to grab even a tiny sliver of your attention.
Those little eyes belong to your younger siblings.
You remember them, right? Small. Cute. Loud. The ones you often want to send to outer space because you can’t tolerate another second of their noisy chaos. The ones you have banned from your room indefinitely. The ones that define the word “annoyance” in your mind and have the unique ability to infuriate you just by making a noise or entering a room.
To them, you are an example of everything they want to be.
They watch your every move—both good and bad. They imitate what you say and do, and it drives you mad. But they do not yet have the experience you have. They are growing and learning so much every day, soaking up the world around them. And you are a very big part of that world, whether you realize it or not.
They crave interaction with you because they love you, and they admire you fiercely.
They draw pictures for you and tell you jokes, just hoping to impress you even for a brief moment.
So often, you don’t notice how hard they try, to show you they are growing and maturing just like you. You forget how fragile their little hearts are and how one harsh word from you can crush them.
I know I cannot expect you to completely understand your impact on your younger siblings, as you are not a fully developed adult yet. But I know you understand what it’s like to look up to someone and long for their attention.
So, I’m asking you to step away from your gaming for just a few minutes now and then. Make your friends wait a little while for your response to their texts. Take a little break from your homework. Go on your date just a little later.
Just take a few moments out of your day, occasionally, to be the older sibling those little ones need.
Read them a story. Go for a walk with them. Watch their living room magic show. Listen to their newest jokes. Let them show you their artwork from the school day. Hug them. Give them a compliment. Share a snack with them. Go to their school plays and their ball games if you possibly can. Try to search your heart for whatever patience might be hiding there and give it to them without asking for anything in return.
Just remember, you are a big part of their lives. And even if you might not always appreciate it, or even tolerate it, they are a big part of your life too.
Eventually, they will grow tall enough to stand face to face with you or maybe even tower above you. But no matter how old they are or how big they grow, they will remember these days. They will recall how you treated them—the good and the bad. But mostly the good.
And someday, many years from now, you might just catch a beautiful glimpse of yourself in the people they turn out to be.