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Could Things I Did when We Were Young Affect My Sister Now?

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From a 15 year old girl in the U.S.  When i was much younger, about 6 or 7, i did things with my sister that are considered sexual. She’s three years younger than me, so she was about 3 or 4 at the time. We were extremely sheltered as children (i didn’t even know the word “vagina” until 3rd/4th grade) so i had no way of knowing that this was sexual/harmful.

So, describing the things i did: sometimes, when i was told to wake her up, i would sit lightly on her and maybe (? idk its fuzzy) grind on her. When we showered together, we would play “doggy” in which one of us would get on all fours and the other would sit on her back (this was not done sexually to the best of my memory). Finally, we would go to my mom’s room and take off our pants so we were only in our underwear and touch each other down there. Sometimes we rubbed stuffed animals against there. I’m really worried because she would tell me she didn’t want to do it but i would ask her and convince her to keep going.

Like i said, we were extremely sheltered as kids and i had no idea this kind of stuff was considered sexual/wrong at the time. i think i was just curious/thought it felt good without thinking about why.

I feel disgusted with myself and don’t know what to do. I’m extremely guilty about doing that kind of stuff/coercing her into it and what it could mean for her future. I’m scared she’ll remember someday or that she has already remembered and is hiding it from me. I don’t know how I’ll ever talk about it with her or what I could say to explain it. I’m scared that she’ll remember and it will affect her future relationships or that she’ll live with the trauma of it without ever knowing what it was. I haven’t seen any indicators that she remembers, and i wouldn’t consider our relationship strained in any way (more than just how our family situation is between all of us).

Is this something that will affect her mental health now/in the future? Is there anything I can do to check if she remembers without straight up asking her? Also, should i seek help about my actions or is it (semi) normal? Please help, and thank you.

Could Things I Did when We Were Young Affect My Sister Now?

Answered by on -

A.

Yes, it is normal for kids to be curious about their genitals and to discover things that feel good “down there”. That’s why many young kids masturbate without regard to who may be watching. Usually they start to understand taboos around behavior by the time they are about 6 or 7.

It’s also normal for bigger kids to experiment with bossing little kids. After all, they are told what to do by bigger people (their parents) so model on that behavior. They are learning what does and doesn’t work in getting others to do what they want them to do. As they mature, most kids learn more sophisticated social skills for getting along with the younger members of the family and for enlisting cooperation.

Although you didn’t say so, I’m guessing that this kind of sexual type play stopped when you were about 7. By then, you had figured out that there was something “wrong” about it. And you didn’t like making your little sister uncomfortable. That speaks to normal development by a normal kid.

What’s most important to me in your letter is that you and your sister have a good relationship now. That tells me that you aren’t interested in using the power of your big sister status to coerce her and that you value your relationship with her.

Since you are 3 years older, it makes sense that you remember vividly what may only be a vague memory for your sister. I don’t think your mutual exploration is going to scar her. But since you are so troubled by the memories, I do think you need to talk frankly with her about it. It is much better for your relationship going forward for you to initiate a conversation than to wait for her to bring it up. If she is thinking about it, waiting is likely to make her think that you are hiding more than she remembers. The whole issue becomes much too big.

I suggest you find a time when things are good between you to tell her that this has been bothering you. Reassure her that what the two of you were doing is not unusual. Apologize for talking her into things she didn’t want to do. Ask her to talk with you about her impressions of your relationship and your sheltered household when you were young. Emphasize that you in no way wanted to hurt her then and still don’t. I hope that what will come out of such a conversation is that you can go forward without the burden of guilt and a deeper understanding between you.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

Could Things I Did when We Were Young Affect My Sister Now?

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Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

Dr. Marie is licensed as both a psychologist and marriage and family counselor. She specializes in couples and family therapy and parent education. Follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2020). Could Things I Did when We Were Young Affect My Sister Now?. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 25, 2020, from https://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2020/08/09/could-things-i-did-when-we-were-young-affect-my-sister-now/
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 5 Aug 2020 (Originally: 9 Aug 2020)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 5 Aug 2020
Published on Psych Central.com. All rights reserved.