I realize you don't mean literally "abused."
Your topic is is a little scary because some of the eldest in families today may in fact be be victims of abuse… but not due to birth order: Due to immature parenting, etc.
So lets just say yes, sometimes the oldest gets his share of responsibilities and the youngest have no clue. Its the luck of the draw. Parents can depend a lot on the first one. You advocate only two children per family, so this would be a good solution for the first getting overwhelmed with responsibilities he or she did not sign up for.
One "abuse" that I remember as the oldest involved taking my little brother to the park when I was 8 and he was 4. It was horrible trying to keep his little tiny thongs on his little tiny feet! They kept falling off all the way there! The park was all the way down the block and across the street and we had to walk there all by ourselves! I also walked with my brothers all the way to church and home again every so often. (at least a mile or so)
Honestly, other that, I do not remember much more in the way of too much responsibility! And I had three brothers! Each of us were expected to be self-sufficient and this self-sufficiency/independence carried through very nicely into adulthood for all of us.
I'd agree that it can depend on the parents. Maybe, too, it can depend on the spacing of the children. My sister is four and a half years older than I; and I'm five years older than my brother. My mother always said she didn't want older kids watching younger ones because she'd say, "I know some of the things older kids do little ones, and I don't like it."
Based on a lot of the things my sister has said about being the oldest, I'd say she's pretty happy with "being first". She has sometimes said that there was emphasis on being grown up and responsible; but there was that for me too (although my parents had learned a little more by the time I came around). I created the impression of acting younger because I was a strong minded, secure, kid who didn't think that being grown up or responsible had to mean "being all serious" and not having any fun.
I mean... When she was fifteen I was - like - ten. So she WAS grown up and beyond playing. I'd look at everyone in my house, and there were my two grown-up parents (of course) and an older sister who wasn't into the kind of play I was. Then there was my little brother who, to me, was a little kid. and a boy (and therefore not who I was seeing as "role model". I loved the three "older" people in the family, but I thought they seemed to take life too seriously (at least from my ten-year-old's perspective); so I decided I would be both responsible AND someone who knew that being grown up didn'g mean being "all serious all the time".
I had the advantage of seeing some of the ways my parents handled some things with my sister (like making a big deal about her sneaking lipstick on in eighth grade), which meant I also had the advantage of having a little more perspective on how much of what they did/said I approved of/judged "a little wrong".
I married a first-born, and it seems to me that first-borns can tend to thrive on pleasing their parents; and if they have parents that only want them to be nice people who try to behave and do well in school; the parents are pleased; and there's no emotional (or other) abuse when it comes to at least that kind of stuff. I suspect they can also often be less likely to question what their parents or other authorities tell them; so a whole lot of things that might otherwise lead to some version of emotional abuse just aren't even present for a lot of first-borns.
The few times my parents needed someone to watch us, they got one of my aunts (and I can count those times on one hand). I can also count on one hand the times my sister ever brought me with her anywhere. My mother never had any of us do housework. And, then too, my parents just weren't abusive people. So, I just think it has to do with the individual parents and individual kids.
Some traits of first-born kids (of which I am one):
"Clearly, firstborns are natural leaders. They also tend to be reliable, conscientious and perfectionists who don't like surprises. Although, firstborns are typically aggressive, many are also compliant people pleasers. They are model children who have a strong need for approval from anyone in charge."
(Source: http://www.parents.com/baby/development … rsonality/)
Hmmm...pretty much on the money...
I married a last born. Something must have gone wrong since NONE of the traits of last born apply---other than very "low key" and very much an "everything will work out" type.
I kind of knew what the link would offer (and that particular link is so over-simplified it doesn't even mention something like the spacing between kids); but either way, I've always seen much of the stuff in those birth-order books as either over-simplified, incomplete, or out-and-out baloney. But then, I'm a middle-child, second daughter (who did happen to get all kinds of individual attention from both parents because of the spacing), but who got to see enough about how my parents did SOME things to make me realize that there were some flaws with a few things.
My sister was a really, really, nice girl; and she was enough older than I that I loved her and had no complaints about her at all. I didn't, however, admire the fact that both she and my mother seemed to value (and mention) "limelight" as much as they did because while my mother referred to "limellight" from a mother's point-of-view, my sister, as far as I was concerned, seemed to enjoy it a little more than I found dignified (particularly considering that "limelight" was most often a matter of pleasing/be admired by adults). Basically, I saw enjoying "limelight" as kind of needy - and I didn't need or want any part of it.
So, as a result, I got quite a few leadership skills and traits minus the whole thing about wanting to be in charge of "everything"; but I don't mind admitting that I think there's a lot more to being a leader than either liking limelight or wanting/needing to "be in charge of everything". and I do kind of resent the common belief that those two traits "make a person a leader" (especially a person who thrives on someone else's ideas of "perfection" (particularly since most parents' idea of "perfection" for their kid is "be a good kid, do your best in school, stay out of trouble and go by the rules of right-and-wrong".. That's no hard for a lot of kids to do, and that means a lot of people (regardless of birth order) have grown up thinking they're "the gold standard" when it comes to "how to be a person".
What people like that don't realize is that a whole lot of other people in the world are the same kind of "perfect person" until, sometimes and in some cases, life and problems kick in and make the life of that "perfect person" look so imperfect (to them and/or to others) that x percent of "the perfect people" start to think they ought to take charge, according to their gold-standard of measuring others by themselves and/or assuming that the apparent imperfection in someone else's life is a sign that the other person/people are just not as perfect as "the gold standard person".
None of this is directed at/about all first-borns, of course (any more than the stuff in those birth-order books always applies to everyone), but if parents don't do a good enough of job letting their kids know, "You're wonderful and perfect to us, but a lot (most probably) other kids are also wonderful and perfect to their parents too; it can be a real kick in the head for kids to get out in the world and see all the ways in which other people are "more perfect" than they are. Whether someone is either feeling "more perfect" (better) than a lot of others people or is, instead, feeling "kicked in the head" to discover that they aren't always better in some/all things; it doesn't really make for much of a leader. In a lot of instances it makes for people who need/want "major limelight" and who want to be in charge of things they know little about - and we have far too many "leaders" (of one sort or another) of that ilk these days.
Leaders are suppose to aim to empower others - not take charge of their lives (perfect or otherwise).
Oh well.. Even though the real reason I've suddenly gotten so involved with some forum discussions is that my son just landed safely after - like - eight hours of air travel (I know, I know.. everyone flies and it's most often OK ). I've just needed some wasting-time time last night and today. Now, though, all these discussions have given me some ideas for Hubs. Well, that is if I can figure out how to make them stellar enough.
Your mother was indeed a smart woman, Lisa. Intelligent, educated parents have only the children they can raise effectively and adequately by themselves without enlisting the help of their oldest/older children. Oldest children in smaller families(2-4 children in the family) usually aren't required to parent and raise children that aren't theirs. Parents of smaller families realize that their oldest children are children themselves although they are the oldest. They respect their oldest children and know that such children are entitled to a normative childhood and adolescence. Not so with parents of large/very large families(6 and more children per family). I really don't know what they're thinking. Such parents have more children that they can adequately take care of emotionally and psychologically by themselves. They have no span of control so they force their oldest children to raise and parent the other children. No mind you, oldest children didn't have those children so why should they be saddled with parenting duties at a time when they should be enjoying their childhood and adolescence. This is child abuse. Children aren't parents and shouldn't be expected to be parents.
Yes, I hear some pundits stating that this has been done in past centuries and some parts of the world. Yes, when there was no adequate contraception, people had large/very large families and oldest children had to parent siblings. However, in this age of advanced contraception, it is an inexcusable and irresponsible as well as mindless, unintelligent, and selfish to have more children than one can take care of by themselves. Parenthood involves a level of maturity and responsibility. Parenthood is for adults, mature and conscionable adults. Children are not doll collections. They need individualized time, attention, and care. Children should not be had to full some type of missing or deep psychological void. Parents should have the amount of children that they can take care of by themselves without enlisting some of their children to do the parenting job that the parents should do.
I am the elder of 2 children and I cannot say that being the eldest child was never a problem. In fact, my sister was always "measured" against my accomplishments. In some ways, that itself while not constituting abuse, does constitute a sort of "We expect you to be this" pressure on younger children---denying them the opportunity to just be whomever they are without reference to a sibling.
In fact, all of the research data suggests that the oldest children in families do very well---better than their younger peers.
To all posters, NEVER meant literally abused. That would be a topic for a new forum. When I stated abuse, the working and contextual definition is that oldest children are oftentimes inundated with responsibilities and forced to grow up fast.
Many oldest children, particularly in large and very large families (6 or more children per household) are consigned to parent and raise younger siblings. Even in not so large families, oldest children are held to a stricter and higher standard than their younger siblings.
They are oftentimes punished and blamed for things that their younger siblings do. They simply do not seem to get credit nor a break if you ask me. I feel so sorry for the oldest child in the family. He/she is really in a quite damnable situation.
I'd certainly agree that a kid shouldn't be expected to take on the worries/concerns of the parent (who was the one who had the other, younger, kids - not the older kid). I also feel bad for the younger kid/kids in that situation, though; because an older sibling can be clueless when it comes to understanding child development - but also when it comes to, say, seeing that a four-year-old is "just being a four-year-old" and when it comes to seeing how young (again, example:) four (or ten or thirteen) is. A forty-year-old parent KNOWS how young thirteen really is. A seventeen-year-old siblings sees a thirteen-year-old younger one as "almost grown up". So it's bad for all involved. A little helping here or there is one thing. All kids need to learn to help when it's needed, but I don't really think making a regular thing of letting an older sibling be too much of a "parent" is good for anyone.
I never did anything. My parents did everything.
And we never made our kids to anything either. We did not want them to have adult responsibilities when they should just enjoy being kids.
And...they turned out just fine: lawyer; pediatric intensive care nurse, business analyst.
And they must have appreciated our way of raising them, since they're doing the same thing with their kids.
In smaller families(2-4 children per household), although oldest children have some responsibilities, they also have a normative childhood and adolescence. They are free to be children to explore, develop and be. Oldest children in smaller families are also not cast aside; parents value and cherish them.
NOT SO for the oldest child of large and very large famiilies(6 or more children per household). In addition to being cast aside and left to raise themselves, they are expected to raise and parent younger siblings; oftentimes, not having any type of childhood nor adolescence. Oldest children in large and very large families are often FORCED to raise/parent younger sibilngs e.g. the oldest Duggar children and many oldest of large/very large families.
Oldest children in large and very large families have a hard-knock life. They are expected to put their OWN and INDIVIDUAL needs LAST. They are also unpaid servants and THE REAL parents of the family. They are at the beck and call of their parents and younger siblings 24/7/365!
It is INDEED a hellish life to be the oldest in a large/very large family. Such children are psychologically and psychically abused by parents who care more only about having children and NOT the already existing children. They also age beyond their years, becoming weary very early in life! In fact, they really NEVER lived THEIR childhoods/ adolescence. Oh so SAD really!
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