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The curse of the eldest child

Blog Post Teaser Image Who’d be a first born?

They are trail-breakers always leading their parents into new ground.

First child in the family to be toilet-trained. Tick

First to be left with a babysitter. Tick

First to go to school.Tick.

First to move into adolescence. Tick.

First to leave home. Not necessarily. (It’s middle borns who tend to leave home first but that's a story for another blog post)

At every stage of development their parents are breaking their teeth in on them. It’s little wonder that every subsequent child in the family should write them a letter to their eldest sibling thanking them for breaking their parents in!

A great deal is expected of first borns

Parents are stricter with the rules and demand higher standards of behaviour from first borns than children in any other birth order position. Parents also expect so much more from their responsible, family standard bearer first borns than they do from any other sibling. Responsibility is thrust their way as they are expected to look out for young siblings, help around the house and be good role models for the rest of the family. If they misbehave, even a little, then they quickly become the problem kids in the family. Youngest children are given so much more freedom to muck up than their first born siblings.

They are risk-adverse

They may blaze a trail for their parents but they are not life’s risk-takers. They stick to the tried and true ways in life at all times that will get them the adult approval they crave. They’ve lived with approval from a very young age so they tend to keep behaving in ways that keep pleasing others– so they eliminate all areas of endeavour where they don’t excel. So they avoid the possibility of failure, hence they take few risks.

First borns live with pressure

From an early age they are pushed and prodded to perform by proud parents and grandparents alike. As the main repository of all the family expectations pressure is their constant companion. And they are the most highly photographed siblings of all. All those firsts are faithfully captured on camera and recorded for posterity…. or at least, until their twenty-first birthday.

By comparison, a youngest child’s photo album is a slim volume with barely a photo of themselves on their own. When parents do bother taking their picture will invariably be among the family crowd. All this anonymity is a boon as youngest children will invariably go under their parent radar getting away with so much more than their eldest sibling.

Forever in the spotlight

But first borns are hardly ever anonymous. They are the responsible kids who carry the family expectations on their broad shoulders. We expect so much from them and mostly they don’t let us down. But the pressure, oh the pressure can take it’s toll. It can be hard being the good child all the time…just wanting to break out and do something frivolous. But their high work ethic ensures that their time is rarely wasted or frittered away. They are always busy and productive.

And the cycle continues when they become parents, despite the fact that they swear they’ll parent differently to their own parents.

Their first child comes along and blazes the trail once more. The first to walk, the first to go to school, the first to date… I think you get the picture.

To get a true understanding of first borns and each birth order position read Why First Borns Rule The World and Last Borns Want to Change It. You'll never look at, let a lone parent, a first born (second or youngest) in the same way again.

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