We wanted to share this moving testimonial we received from a mother of one of our Little Sisters. Rita, mother of Little Sister Natalie, shared why she is grateful for Big Sister Heather. Here’s what she said:
“I first wanted a Big Sister for my daughter Natalie when I saw her having a hard time after her dad and I split up. She was 13-years-old, where puberty and high school were prominent issues, and she was dealing with anxiety and depression. Our immediate family consisted of my mother, and that was it. Everyone else lived far away.
I wanted my daughter to have someone else other than me in her life who could be a positive influence.
I wanted her to have someone who could be another person to guide her through day to day teen girl challenges, and would be there just for her. I was looking for someone who my daughter could trust, have fun with, and build a natural friendship with. My daughter and I have always been close, but I recognized there may come a day that she may not want to talk to her mother and it would be ideal to have another trustworthy female for her to talk to.
Before Natalie was matched with her Big Sister, she was worried that she would be matched with someone who was overly enthusiastic and perfect. Natalie had been struggling with her mental health issues, so she was not ready for someone who couldn’t relate to her. Then when Natalie was 14, she was matched with Heather. Heather was a calm, friendly woman in her early 20’s, who had learned to live with having anxiety, had experience with a previous Little Sister with mental health challenges, and was a well adjusted woman fully ready to accept my daughter and all that was part of her.
Even now as I write this, I am tearing up in gratitude about how perfect Heather was for Natalie.
When we left that initial meeting, my daughter immediately told me how much she liked Heather. Normally, it takes my daughter quite some time to warm up to someone new. And me, I was pleasantly surprised with all the screening and conditions the Big Sisters organization had in place, so it was easy for me to let this relationship begin.
It didn’t take long for the two sisters to establish rapport.
For the next couple of years, they met regularly, doing all kinds of normal and fun activities. Heather would occasionally reach out to me to check if something would be okay, to propose a new idea, or to communicate with me when she had concerns about Natalie. She had such a good head on her shoulders and it was reassuring to me to have this person present in my daughter’s life. I was learning to step back from constantly needing to be part of my daughter’s day. I would hear Natalie tell me how much she trusted Heather and how they talked about everything… relationships, volunteering, their shared love of animals, drug and alcohol use, educational goals, anxiety, TV shows, healthy living, everything. From what Natalie told me, I was thrilled with Heather’s responses and outlook. Natalie was feeling safe with Heather and knew she could turn to her for anything.
Over the time that Heather has been in my daughter’s life, Heather walked alongside her through some of the most difficult experiences Natalie had.
Heather remained a positive, normal influence when Natalie hit very low points and needed hospitalization. Heather helped Natalie make good choices about school, and even helped her get her first job. Heather helped Natalie write up her first resume and practiced interviewing skills with her. Natalie has told me that she and Heather will remain life long friends, even after the Big Sisters relationship ends.
What I most appreciate from a mother’s point of view is that another kind adult was giving the same consistent encouragement as I had been.
Coming from Heather, I think Natalie was more open to hearing certain points of view, so could make better decisions for herself. Natalie was becoming more comfortable discussing difficult subjects and more confident speaking up for herself. She knew there were adults out there who she could turn to if she needed help. Also, the time Natalie had with her Big Sister gave me a couple of hours to myself, a precious window of time for a single parent.
I am so very happy with the relationship between Natalie and Heather. I honestly don’t think a better Big Sister match could have happened for Natalie! The power this relationship has had in supporting my daughter through a difficult adolescence is something I will forever be in awe of and grateful for. It truly does take a village to raise a child and I am so glad Heather is part of our village.
For any parents considering getting a Big Sister for their daughter,
please be assured that the Big Sisters organization will focus on thorough selection and safety throughout the relationship. There are guidelines for everyone to follow, as well as frequent check-ins with a Big Sisters staff person to ensure everything remains appropriate for all parties. The activities your daughter and Big Sister choose to do should preferably have minimal cost and be outside your home. They even give you a list of fun ideas. A Big Sister can be very therapeutic for your daughter, but should not replace therapy or counseling. Your daughter will benefit from doing fun and normal things with a trusted, competent adult ‘sister.’ It may take a long time before the right match is made for your daughter, but it is well worth the wait. Your daughter will have a very special person in her life to enhance her experience growing up.”