Created By: ThreeferFAQMinorityChick on January 27, 2012 Last Edited By: ThreeferFAQMinorityChick on July 18, 2015

Parental Sibling

An older sibling who seems at times to be more like a parent than a brother or sister to his or her younger sibling

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Alt titles: Motherly Sister and Fatherly Brother

Fictional older siblings, when they aren't keeping their distance from or bullying their younger siblings, will commonly serve as mentors, protectors and role models, sometimes even to the point where they will use questionable means on behalf of their younger siblings.

And then there's that sibling who seems at times to be more like a parent than a sibling to their younger brother or sister. In some cases, the older sibling pretty much is the parent and is the sibling in name only. Unlike straight-up Promotion to Parent, where a sibling officially becomes a Parental Substitute towards his or her younger siblings, but possibly only grudgingly and still otherwise being their big brother or sister, a sibling of this type can seem more like a parent than a sibling even if their actual parents are still alive and present and readily and willingly performs the job of Parental Substitute. However, the older sibling who was already a Motherly Sister or Fatherly Brother to her or his younger sibling(s) is commonly the one who gets the Promotion to Parent if both parental figures end up missing.

Cases where a guy is a father to his younger siblings because their mother is his (such as Oedipus Rex), or the childrens' mother is also their older sister because their father is her father (such as Elisabeth Fritzl), don't count as this; go over to Parental Incest for that. However, if it gets to the point where the older sibling literally adopts their younger siblings, it can count as this. In some cases, there will be an inversion of the usual situation where the "parent" is technically younger than their "child", but the fact that they are siblings and that their relationship has an overt resemblance between that of mother and child means that it still counts.


  • 27 Dresses: Jane started acting like a mother to her sister Tess after their mother died. Not officially raising her, though, as she was like 13 and her father was still around supporting them. He's just not good with the girly things.

  • Raoul, the hero of The Phantom of the Opera, has an older brother who acted as a Parental Substitute to him after their father died. Of course, there's a twentysomething-year age difference between them, making it justifiable by virtue of him being old enough to actually be a father to his younger brother.
  • In the historical novel Or Give Me Death by Ann Rinaldi, Patsy acts as another mother to her younger siblings, especially Edmund, even before her mother starts her Sanity Slippage. As her mother goes more and more bonkers, though, it becomes a full-blown Promotion to Parent due to the fact that their father, Patrick Henry, is contantly away and participating in the American Revolution despite the fact that his wife needs to be kept confined for her own safety.
  • The hero of Great Expectations, Pip, is an orphan who was taken in by his older sister and her husband, who are so much older than him and have taken him in at such a young age that they pretty much are his parents for all intents and purposes. However, unlike most examples of the Motherly Sister, Mrs. Joe is feared rather than admired by her younger brother Pip for the reason that she is an Abusive Parental Substitute towards him. Her husband, Joe Gargery, however, is a kind as well as Fatherly Brother In-Law to Pip.
  • In Pride and Prejudice, Georgiana Darcy looks up to her older brother as a father figure.
  • Travis became this to Arliss in the Old Yeller sequel Savage Sam.
  • Raquel Casull from Scrapped Princess is more of a mother to Shannon and Pacifica than an older sister (which she is).
  • The eponymous Tess of Tess of the d'Urbervilles is stated to have maternal feelings towards her younger siblings as part of her characterization as a pure woman.

Live Action TV
  • Hetty is like this to her younger siblings (especially Olivia) in Road to Avonlea It's later stated that she was forced into this role at a young age when their parents died.
  • Buffy spends the entire series after her mother dies playing responsible adult to Dawn, while still trying to save the universe.

  • Bernardo is a Fatherly Brother to Maria in West Side Story.


Western Animation
  • Sokka from Avatar: The Last Airbender says in one episode that he's seen his sister Katara as a mother figure since their real mother died. In fact, whenever he tries to picture his mother's face, he sees Katara. Given that she is his younger sibling, this is very distinct from Promotion to Parent.

Real Life
  • Princess Mary Tudor, who would later grow up to become Bloody Mary, acted as a maternal figure for both of her younger siblings, Princess Elizabeth and Prince Edward. Granted, both of their mothers died when they were each really young, but their father was still alive.
  • Some Christian homeschooling households will put a special emphasis on treating the daughters to be good mothers from an early age. Yes, this includes having the older girls act as additional "mothers" to their younger siblings.
  • As noted above in Literature, Martha "Patsy" Henry, the oldest daughter of Patrick Henry, was already a Motherly Sister to her younger siblings and became even more so after her mother started going crazy and her father became increasingly absent for the reason that he was promoting colonial independence from Great Britain.
  • From the way Seth Morgan acts concerning his little sister Stephenie Meyer, you'd be surprised to know that he's her older brother and not her straight up Meddling Parent. He controls which e-mails Stephenie Meyer sees and has prevented her from seeing the petition that devoted Twilight fans drew up and signed begging her to continue writing Midnight Sun.
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