The Travails of Being The Oldest In The Family
FEELING OF DETHRONEMENT AND ABANDONMENT AT ARRIVAL OF SECOND CHILD
BEING HELD TO A DIFFERENT, TOUGHER STANDARD
THE EVER RESPONSIBLE ONE
THE NEVERENDING TRAVAILS OF THE OLDEST CHILD
This hub is in response to the request IS IT AN EXTRA CHALLENGE TO BE AN OLDER SIBLING by CheapInMadrid.
Being the oldest in the family is often fraught with challenges and responsibilities. First, as the oldest child, you were once the center of your parent's universe. Then there is the new arrival. That means that you have been ...........yes, dethroned- displaced as the center!
The new arrival is now the center of the parental universe. You seem to be cast aside. You look at the new arrival and feel that he/she has it made in the shade so to speak. You feel something that you have never felt before.......a tinge of sibling rivalry and/or sibling envy!
Many oldest children react in many ways to being dethroned by a younger sibling. Some regress into earlier patterns of behavior in order to be noticed by their parents. Others repress their feelings of being abandoned by their parents into being the perfect child who seemingly does no wrong and tries to please their parents in every way so that their parents would love them as they once did.
This feeling of parental abandonment on the part of the oldest child is transferred into being a perfectionist and overachiever. He/she feels that he/she always have to be ''MORE" just to be considered acceptable in his/her parents' eyes. He/she believes that he/she must constantly be on top of the game.
There is an unwritten expectation that the oldest child be the standard bearer, the example maker, and the strong, tough one in the family. He/she must be in total and ultimate control at all times. He/she cannot afford to exhibit any type of weakness for that would not be copacetic regarding the image of the oldest child in the family.
Of course, the oldest child must be the family's pillar of strength so to speak. After all, the younger sibling or siblings are looking to him/her to be the definitive person. If he/she is less than being definitive, the younger sibling/ siblings will have no model to emulate and/or to look up to for goodness sake.
Yes, being the oldest child in the family can be quite an arduous challenge to say the least. He/she often feels like he/she is on stage for his/her parents and younger sibling/siblings. Like it or not, he/she is often the second in command after the parents. The oldest child in the family often has the most stressful childhood. He/she is expected to mature faster than either the middle and/or youngest child. After all, he/she must be responsible for his/her younger sibling/siblings.
Many oldest children report of losing their childhood to care for their younger sibling/siblings. They maintain that they were never afforded the chance to be normal, carefree children. Because of the onerous responsibilities thrust upon them at a very early age, many oldest children age beyond their years and become quite sullen. As children, the oldest children has done more in twenty years than an average person does in half a lifetime!
The oldest child is often treated the most differentially by his/her parents. He/she is usually held to a different(more severe) standard than the rest of his/her siblings. If he/she does something wrong, he/she is more likely to be harshly punished for the infraction and/or offense that his/her younger sibling/siblings will not be punished at the same age. Not only is he/she punished for what he/she does, he/she is often punished for the infractions and/or offenses of his/her younger silbing/siblings. Go figure this out! It seems that he/she never gets a respite!
The gender of the respective oldest child often comes into play regarding the oldest child scenario. Although oldest sons have responsibility for his younger sibling/siblings, the onus of such responsibility more likely or not falls upon the oldest daughter. Oldest daughters have the most burdensome lives of all daughters in other birth orders.
Oldest daughters are known as the surrogate and/or second moms of the family. She is often expected to look after and oftentimes raise her younger sibling/siblings. In some families, she is known as the parentified child who does the main parental caretaking duties instead of the mother. She often has no individual life of her own, always being at the beck and call of either her parents and/or younger sibling/siblings.
Many oldest daughters are strongly inculcated with the premise to place their individual wants, desires, and needs last. They are told to place everyone's needs and wants before their own. As a result of this, many oldest daughters repress their anger and become passive aggressive martyrs in a bid to get parental or other attention and to have their particular needs met. Still others use guilt by manipulation in order to get their family members to cave into their wishes. Quite a few become doormats, being tentative about asserting their rights less it deem to be selfish.
Because others depend upon the oldest child, he/she is quite comfortable in take charge and/or leadership roles. Many oldest children assume leadership positions among their friends and in school events. In addition to that, many are overachievers and quite perfectionistic regarding themselves and others.
Another aspect of the take charge and leadership personality of the oldest child is that many are bossy and believe that they know more than everyone else. They can be quite uncompromising and believe that they are the only ones who are correct regarding their premise and that everyone either does not know any better or are in total error. They can be quite forceful in their interactions if they believe that they are right. It is nothing for them to browbeat others into submission regarding their ideas.
Many oldest children are quite uncompromising and do not play well with others. Because of their ordinal position, they believe that they are older, they are the most knowledgeable and everyone should recognize and acknowledge this fact. The oldest child is often the most authoritarian of all birth orders because he/she was often held to stricter standards than the rest of his/her siblings.
Conversely, there are oldest child who have been so overburdened with responsibility as children and/or adolescents that as soon as they become adults and/or leave the parental home, they do not even want to hear and/or see the word "responsible", let alone be it! They just want to left alone to be themselves finally- and at peace!
The role of the oldest child in the family does not end abruptly at adulthood. Oh no, that would be far too easy. The oldest child, no matter how OLD he/she is, will always be the pillar of strength to his/her parents and younger sibling/siblings alike. He/she is the one who often has the financial responsibility to care for a younger sibling/siblings when they are financially struggling and/or down on their luck. He/she is the one the younger sibling/siblings go to for advice and/or guidance.
The oldest child often is the main decision maker although the other sibling/siblings are highly capable of handling affairs as he/she does. However, the sibling scenario continues with the oldest child handling most and/or the most difficult aspects of a situation. In fact, the younger sibling/siblings prefer it this way as they do not wish to be involved in the responsibility at hand.
After the parents die, the oldest child will be view as the patriarch and/or matriarch of the family. He/she will be the head of the family so to speak. Everyone and his/her child will go to him/her for all types of advice and often expected him/her to handle the most major and/or onerous family situation at hand. It seems that the oldest child will NEVER get a rest-only when HE/SHE passes on from this Earth!
In summation, the oldest child is the MOST DIFFICULT and CHALLENGING birth order there is. He/she is expected to be the mature and responsible one even at a very young age. He/she is held to a differential albeit more severe standard than the rest of his/her siblings. In essence, he/she is expected to be quite stoic regarding the situation at hand. He/she is to grin, shut up, and bear it with glee!
This crux of responsibility continues quite unabated throughout childhood and adolescence. It does not even end in adulthood. The oldest child is viewed as the advice giver and the take care person. It is an ever continuing scenario with no breaks allowed. The oldest child truly exemplifies the Rock of Gibraltar for his/her parents and/or younger sibling/siblings alike!
- The Significance of Birth Order Among Adult Women
The issue of the birth order constellation is influential throughout a girl's childhood and adolescence. However, it does not stop there. Birth order influences continue throughout adulthood, often into old age. The primary familial relationship...
© 2012 Grace Marguerite Williams
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