The decision to be a Big Sister can be a daunting one. On the one hand, being a Big Sister can lead to great potential benefit for the youth, but on the other hand, perhaps you’re worried if you would make a great Big Sister. Having been a Big Sister for over 5 years, I thought I’d share my experiences to provide insight during this decision making process, and help alleviate some of the anxiety from not knowing what is expected from Big Sister volunteers.
All Good Things Come with Time
As a Big Sister you are a role model and a mentor. However, most importantly, you are developing a relationship with a young girl. Like any relationship, developing trust takes time. As a result, it is important to keep this in mind each time you meet with your Little Sister. Depending on your match, some Little Sisters take more time than others to develop a relationship where they feel comfortable and safe. This is not a reflection on you. Give her time. At the end of it you will see her growth and progress.
A few months have passed by, you’re patient but you’re beginning to wonder if you’ve made an impact. To find your answer you will have to look for it. Be observant and listen. The smallest changes may have been overlooked and come to you later on. Be open to these moments. They will help you recognize the changes in your Little Sister, and you will be able to recognize her continuous progress and growth.
Keep an Open Mind
You’ve been patient, and you’ve been perceptive. You’re starting to develop that much needed trust with your Little Sister. Finally, she decides to open up to you. While most of these moments are to be shared with happiness, gasps, and awe, there may be times where she will ask you questions or share experiences that you are uncomfortable with. It is natural to feel protective. However, it is important to remain calm and listen. It is important for your Little Sister to know that she can share things with you without fear of being judged, or made to feel uncomfortable. Give her time to share her experience, and ensure that she knows she can come to you for support. If ever in doubt, reach out to your assigned case worker. The case workers at Big Sisters conduct regular check-ins and are there to help guide you when needed. I was fortunate to have an amazing case worker who made sure to check in with me regularly and was very understanding of my busy schedule.
At the end of the day it is a hard decision to make. However, should you choose to be a Big Sister, it is one of the few volunteer opportunities available that allows you to connect with others in a way that allows you to directly see the impact you’ve had on another person.