Hands up if you believe middle-child syndrome is not a thing! Middle children get away with everything because they claim to suffer from this made up syndrome, and the youngest kid will forever be the ‘baby’ even at 50 years old and could quite literally get away with killing the family dog. Exaggeration or not, it ain’t no frolick in the park being the oldest. I’m the oldest (if you haven’t already noticed) and older to a sister 2 years younger and brother 6 years younger than me. It’s safe to say that being the oldest has its pro’s and con’s, but I couldn’t come up with more than 5 pro’s to make this a balanced argument so here are 15 struggles of being the oldest child in the family:
Theres only one person to blame… and that’s you
I’ve been blamed for something before, when I haven’t even been in the room. I’ve been blamed for something when I haven’t even been in the country! I’ve been blamed for something when I literally have no idea what is going on, what I’m being blamed for, how the argument started and what is being argued about. But hey I’m the oldest… I’ll just take it on the chin and wait for the next battering. When you’re the eldest child, you are the scapegoat for everything, you’re the easiest to blame, and there is no way you should try and defend yourself. Literally your little brother could break a window whilst playing football… while you’re not even at home… and you don’t even know how to kick a ball yourself- and you’ll still get the blame. The perils.
You are expected to set a good example for the younger siblings
Now my brother and sister always tell me that I’ve been a good role model for them (win). However I say ONE thing slightly ‘out there’ in front of the parents and younger siblings and I’m deemed irresponsible and I’m not setting a good example. There’s just an expectation that you should do everything right as the oldest, because if the younger ones do something wrong, best believe its 100% your fault because you didn’t set a good enough example. Top tip- don’t try and sneak a bottle of 1 litre Ciroc vodka into your brothers uni suitcase because you’re the cool sister who challenged him to finish it in the first 3 days of freshers week- it doesn’t go down well with the parents. Trust me.
…And if you don’t set a good example, you’re never living that down
That’s right… you’re expected to set a good example, so if you don’t; there’s no coming back from that. If you’re the youngest, you can get away with everything and anything until the cows come home, but make one mistake as the oldest, and be prepared to have that used against you for the rest of your days, or at least until you give your parents their first grandchild. Even then, prepare for the countless lectures on how to set a good example for your child.
You’re the test child
Being the first born also means it’s your parents first shot at raising a kid, and that can be pretty scary and daunting for them. We should cut them some slack because they probably had no idea how to raise a kid properly, and more so no idea that you would turn out so damn perfect given your struggles of being the oldest. By the time they get to the third, fourth or tenth kid, they’ve finally got it right, so don’t take it personally. I don’t……..
What you weren’t allowed to do at 15, you’re younger siblings were allowed to do at 10
Now to this day, this literally drives me nuts. There was so much stuff that I wasn’t allowed to do in my teens that my brother (the youngest) was allowed to do without the aggro. Maybe parents just don’t have the energy after the first child, or maybe it’s because I’m their precious little girl. Or maybe, it’s because I’m such a nice big sis that I’ve talked my parents into letting my younger siblings do whatever they want. Nothing annoys the oldest more though than watching younger siblings waltz out the house no questions asked, while last week they’re getting asked one million questions about going out for dinner. It’s cool, I’m not bitter at all.
Forget your plans, you’re the free babysitter now!
Not so much an issue for me now, because even my brother knows how to fry an egg, but growing up, if we had to be left alone, I was in charge and had to look after the younger two. Now that you’re parents have produced their own babysitter who they don’t need to pay, they’re able to let their hair down and go out and enjoy themselves, at the sacrifice of your own Friday night plans.
And you’re the free tutor! And even the free guidance counsellor!
Oh you need help on your maths homework? Go and ask your older sister! The trick here is to be shit at maths like me so you can’t help at all. On the other hand if you’re not used as a tutor, you’re used as the family shrink. Parents will ask the oldest child to try talk some ‘sense’ into the younger ones and will often seek advice from the oldest ones about how to parent them. Never mind that the oldest went through the parent test phase, as long as they get it right for the rest of the kids…
You are expected by your siblings to have their back
You’re the go-to person when your younger siblings don’t want the parents to know about something or don’t want to get into trouble. And you’re expected to not be the snitch and help cover the tracks and come up with the excuses or lies. It is your job to make sure they look the absolute best in front of your parents. These things making you such a stellar human being of course.
The younger siblings are now your responsibility
On a night out, let the young’uns get absolutely mortal because they’ve got good old responsible you to make sure they’ve got enough money for drinks, the cab home and the kebab for the journey. Them making it from A to B safely is down to you. If you’re present, you’re responsible. Even if you’re not present you’re still responsible.
You are expected and supposed to be the ‘bigger person’
Now I’m stubborn, and being the bigger person can be a struggle for me at times. But with being the oldest, the more ‘responsible’, and in light of setting a good example, just standing down and “doing the right thing’ is key. If you’re upsetting the younger siblings, you’re definitely a bully, even when you’re right so your best bet is to stand down and again, take it on the chin.
You spend your life defending your younger siblings…and they still don’t want to know you
Nothing that the younger siblings do ever seems that bad when they’ve got you defending their every move. Parents will come to you to moan about them, but because you’re such a lovely older brother/sister, you’ll sit there trying to rationalise with your parents and defend them. Yet when you ask your sister for hug it’s like, ‘eww get off me’. *sigh*
Your younger siblings want to copy everything you do
They don’t want to know you, but they want to copy everything you do. “I want to do that because she gets to do it’- maybe its because I’m older than you and I’ve waited years to do this and you’re probably going to be allowed to do it anyway!!?
There’s lots of pressure
It’s a lot of pressure being the oldest. You generally set the tone for how your younger siblings will turn out because they will follow what you do, will pick up your habits, learn from you, look up to you, listen to you and copy you. That’s a lot of pressure on ones shoulders. And yet, I’m still waiting for my Blue Peter badge.
You are the gatekeeper of all secrets…
Remember that time when mum and dad went away and you…. just kidding.
My technique for dealing with this is to use this information as leverage. I like to blackmail my siblings with this stuff. The thing is, even if you let all secrets out, somehow, someway your parents will find a way to blame you. There’s no winning.
Stamping your authority with your younger siblings put you in their bad books
As if you’re not already naturally in your parents bad books, using the ‘shut up I’m older than you, show me some respect’ line, has low impact and you just come across bossy, annoying and you’re no ones favourite person. Nonetheless, there’s always one younger sibling that will always be your favourite and listens to everything you say 🙂
If I could say one good thing about being the oldest, it’s that life is pretty sweet when you have lovely younger siblings that are always there for you too. I know I’m lucky to have mine.