When you’re an older sister in any household it comes with a certain level of responsibility, you become a role model, a baby sitter and the tester child for your parents so they can learn how to raise a daughter. For the most part regardless of ethnicity, it’s a wild ride, but there’s a unique level of responsibility when your Somali. It becomes your job to not only raise your younger siblings but to pave the way and make things easier for your younger siblings.
To begin with, Somali families tend to big, we reproduce like no other nation. So when you’re an older sister you also become the second mother, you will help babysit, change nappies and take on a lot more responsibility than your brothers. It’s patriarchal as hell, but it’s the reality for a lot of us.
However, there’s another responsibility the older sister holds that’s even greater than running the household. It’s the responsibility of rebellion. I know, to begin with, it sounds weird but allow me to explain. As the first daughter, especially if you’re like me and your parents came straight from Somalia, they hold a lot of values and overprotectiveness towards their daughters.
Now in some aspects, it can border on craziness with 4 o clock curfews and never experiencing the world like your brothers get to. In order to get the same level of freedom as the boys, you have to argue, which isn’t fun but it’s necessary. You’re not just having these arguments to make your life easier, you’re doing it for your younger sisters as well.
People who know me personally know I’ve said this a lot, but if your parents are strict, you have to rebel. I’ve seen the consequences of older sisters who’ve failed to do this and honestly it’s just sad. In those cases, the younger girls have a harder hurdle to jump over because they’ll get compared to their older sister who was ‘good’ and didn’t have the arguments and it just leads to families reinforcing their need to coddle their daughters.
I hate to say it, but if you’re the oldest girl in your family it’s your job to make it easier for the younger girls – no questions asked. There’s no excuse, even if your family is huge it still has to be done. The arguments hurt and the debates can be painful but in the long run, everyone’s life is so much easier.