Oldest Child Vs. Only Child- How These Two Alpha Birth Orders Are Similar and Different
THE ALPHA BIRTH ORDERS
BOTH PRESSURED TO BE AN ADULT AT AN EARLY AGE
BE THE BEST OR NOTHING
WHEN OLDEST AND ONLY MEET
We Are Both First
Only and oldest children are both alpha birth orders. Only and oldest children have many things in common. Both birth orders want to be the first and are overachievers. Only and oldest children are organized, self-confident, and are perfectionistic. However, there is a difference between only and oldest children. Oldest children were only children for a short period of time before they were dethroned upon the birth of a younger sibling whereas the only child was never dethroned and remain the center of their parent's universe.
Dr. Kevin Leman in his book, THE FIRSTBORN ADVANTAGE, both only and oldest children are considered firstborns and they have characteristics in common such as leadership, being conscientious, high self-confidence being responsible, and organized. Dr. Leman furthermore contended that only children are firstborns magnified. Only children are very perfectionistic because they are their parents' one and only which means that all parental hopes and dreams are placed upon them.
As a result of this, only children have the most pressure to succeed of all birth orders. Even though oldest children have a lot of pressure to succeed, parents figure that if the oldest children do not succeed, there are always other children in the family who will succeed. Oldest children as opposed to only children are expected by parents to set an example to their younger siblings. Only children, even though they are pressurized to succeed, are more free to develop their individual personas and are not locked into fixed family roles.
Both alpha birth orders are expected to be adults at early ages but for different reasons. Oldest children since they are the firstborn in their families are expected to be more mature and often given more responsibilities than their younger siblings. Oldest children, especially in large to very large families, are expected to be in loco parentis to their younger siblings. Oldest children in large to very large families are often the unpaid and unappreciated help, maid, and second parent to their younger siblings.
In small and medium sized families, oldest children are usually the advisers, leaders, and executives to their younger siblings. Although older children in small and medium families have responsible roles in the family, their leadership role is more glamorous than it for oldest children in large to very large families. Many oldest children in small and medium sized families relish the role of being the oldest child in contrast to oldest children in large families who view their roles as enforced servitude.
Only children are adults early because they grow up without siblings, only being exposed to their parents. Because the only immediate companions to only children are their parents, they develop adult mannerism at an early age in terms of advanced vocabularies and precociousness. Based upon their familial environment, only children are often comfortable around adults and older children. Only children find same age peers to be immature and childish. Furthermore as a result of intense parental interfacing with their only children, only children are often more intelligent and advanced than children with siblings.
Also there are marked differences between only and oldest children. Even though both only and oldest children are self-sufficient. Only children are often self-sufficient and independent because they have no siblings to rely on. Oldest children have siblings to rely on although most of the weight of the sibling relationship falls upon oldest children. In sibling relationships, younger siblings often rely on oldest children into adulthood and beyond.
Many oldest children are put upon by their families and often develop a martyr complex. Many oldest children tolerate all types of abuse from their family members; however, they do not speak up because they would be considered "selfish" if they do. There are some oldest children who are very authoritarian and controlling towards their younger siblings. They could be described as control freaks who believe that they know the most and are the only right ones in a relationship.
Only children are very assertive because of their position in the family. Only children are very independent and do not suffer fools gladly. Because only children are independent and self-sufficient, they expect everyone to be so. They do not believe in carrying people and believe that every tub sits on its own bottom.
Only children and oldest children because of their place in their respective families are very strong willed children who must have their way. Only children do this de facto because they have their parents all to themselves and do not have to compete with siblings for parental attention. Oldest children do this by subjugating and bossing their younger siblings around. Many oldest children know how to manipulate their younger siblings and be in a dominant position. Plenty of times, oldest children play the "poor unappreciated me" position in order to garner sympathy from people.
What happens when only children and oldest children enter into contact with each other. Well, this will be a very formidable relationship as only and oldest children are no shrinking violets. As a result of the are both firstborns, they are alpha people.
Only and oldest children can be highly contentious, thinking that they are the only ones right and will not back down from their dominant positions. Usually only and oldest children butt heads and enjoy a strong argument whether it is peer friendships, platonic relationships romantic relationships, and/or familial relationships.
As an only child, some of my most contentious relationships were that with oldest children. I also lived with an oldest child for years( my mother). Even though I love my mother very much, we often butted heads over such topics such as religion, fashions, lifestyle choices, morality, and a myriad of psychological, sociological, and philosophical issues. Sometimes we would have such intense arguments that we would not speak to each other for weeks at a time.
None of us would concede in an argument as we both wanted to be right at all costs. My father, a lastborn, used to say that my mother and I had too much in common. My father maintained that both of us would argue until forever. My mother is a firstborn child of ten siblings while I am an only child. Sometimes she would win the argument but most of the times, I would win and/or die trying.
I find it stimulating to enter verbal contests with peers and friends who are oldest children because it is a tug of war. No one of us will concede and it is a psychological contest as who is going to win this argument. Even though some of my most contentious relationships were with oldest children, conversely, some of my happiest and long-lasting relationships were with either only and/or oldest children. The average only and oldest child have a maturity, intelligence, and sophistication that a middle and/or youngest child do not have. For the most part, only and oldest children are very adultlike and mature even when they are children and teens. They are often more serious in outlook than middle and/or youngest children.
Even though only and oldest children can have a contentious relationship because both are the first in their families, there is often a begrudging respect for each other. Both birth orders are strong, self-confident, and highly aggressive. Only and oldest children always want to be right and on top. Only and oldest children always want to be the alpha, not the beta in the relationship whether it is familial, platonic, peer, and/or romantic. It usually takes a lot of compromise for only and oldest children to have a smooth relationship but onlies and oldest are not known for the art of compromise.
In conclusion, only and oldest children are both firstborns. Both only and oldest children have common characteristics such as being perfectionisitc, responsible, highly confident, and achievement oriented. Only and oldest children are expected by their families to be adults at an early age-only children because they only interact with adults, having no siblings while oldest children are assigned responsibilities for their younger siblings.
Although only and oldest children are pressured to achieve, only children are more pressured to succeed because parents place all their hopes and dreams on their only children. Oldest children are not under as much pressure to achieve because parents figure that if they fail, there will be younger children who will succeed.
There are also differences between only and oldest children. Only children are freer to develop their individual personas as there are no siblings to compete with whereas oldest children are often locked into more rigid familial roles because of their birth order. Oldest children tend to be caretakers and put upon while only children are self-sufficient and self-reliant and believe that others should be that way also.
Regarding commonalities, only and oldest children are very assertive and strong individuals who believe that they are the only right ones. Both birth orders are not known for being compromising. Their assertiveness is obvious when they enter any relationship ranging from friendship to familial. Although they can be uncompromising at times, they have more in common than they realize.
For Further Reading
More Information on the Subject
- Does Birth Order Make a Difference in Traits?
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- How Birth Order Affects Your Childs Characteristi...
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© 2011 Grace Marguerite Williams