Dear American Girl,
My sister and I have always been in the same school, the same sports, and even the same after-school activities. I love my sister, but I want to have my own friends and my own identity. Any advice?
Here's your advice:
My sister and I used to do everything together, but as I got older, I realized that I needed a little space. It's OK to feel that way—it's just a part of growing up. Have a heart-to-heart chat with your sis and tell her how you feel.
-An American Girl fan, age 11, Michigan
Ask a parent if it would be OK to do an after-school activity by yourself, such as Girl Scouts or piano lessons. Talk to your mom or dad about needing to do an activity or two on your own.
-Chrissy, age 10, Ohio
Don't be afraid to take a risk. Branch out and try a different sport or activity without your sister. You'll never know what you'll like unless you try!
-Kiana, age 12, Canada
Set up a time every week when you and sister will hang out. For example, Wednesday night could be a movie night for you two. Doing that should give you more time to see other friends, while still making time for your sister.
-Lauren, age 10, Minnesota
Try to keep things equal between the time you spend with friends and the time you see your sis. If you have your pals over for your own sleepover, for example, have a "sleepover" the night before with your sister.
-Annie, age 12, Montana
You and your sister probably don't share all of the same interests. Every person is unique, so think of something that each of you can do that doesn't require you to do it together.
-Lauren, age 11, Louisiana
My sister and I joined a basketball team together. It was fun for a little while, but then I realized that I would be happier as a member of the school band. She was sad when I decided to leave the team, but as a compromise we decided to do something else together. Now we both sing in a choir, and we're both happy.
-Jolynn, age 11, Oklahoma
Start some new friendships, and encourage your sister to make new friends, too. She'll see that you love her but that you need a little breathing room.
-Randi, age 12, Pennsylvania
Do you like doing the same things as your sister? Or do you feel pressured to do those things? If you truly enjoy the same activities, don't stop. You might be trying to create a separate identity from your sister just to prove a point. It's OK for you and your sister to have common interests, and to cherish the time you spend together.
-Leonora, age 12, Canada
Feel free to spend time with your own buds, but don't forget about your sis. Make sure to set aside time for her so that she won't feel left out. Remember, it's great to have friends, but family is forever.
-Ava, age 9, Indiana
Make a list of things you'd like to try, such as a writing workshop or a scrapbooking class. Maybe these are things you were afraid to try without your sister. Find the courage to choose one activity on the list, and go for it!
-Carly, age 12, California
Share your feelings with your sis. For all you know, she could be feeling exactly the same way.
-Valerie, age 10, New York
Maybe your sister is insecure and doesn't want to leave your side. Encourage her to discover her own talents and strengths. Say, "Hey! I've noticed that you're great at soccer. Have you thought about joining the soccer club?"
-An American Girl fan, age 12, Washington
Sign up for an activity that you've been interested in. You'll meet new people, and you'll get a little distance from your sister. Being yourself is important. Kudos to you for trying to make a change!
-Kate, age 13, New York
My sister is three years younger than I am, and she's on my hockey team. I was upset when I found out she was joining the team. Then my dad told me that she and I are two different people, and if any of our teammates lump us together as one person, I should try to make friends with girls who appreciate our unique personalities. Friends should like you for yourself!
-Sara Marie, age 12, Illinois