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The Overburdened Oldest Child

  1. gmwilliams profile image85
    gmwilliamsposted 6 years ago

    I believe that the oldest child in a family have the toughest and roughest path to go.  He/she was automatically dethroned upon the birth/births of  a successive sibling/siblings.  He/she is often held to a higher and stricter standard than his/her younger siblings,   He/she is often punished if the younger siblings do something wrong.    He/she often has no childhood, especially if the family is medium large to very large.   If in such families, he/she is often raises the younger siblings.   

    Oldest children in families seldom, if ever, have "me" time.  They are always at the beck and call of their parents and siblings.   The life of the oldest child in a family is often an extremely precarious life.  They are often overused and underappreciated by their families.    Do you appreciate and/or resent being the oldest child in your respective families?

    1. kallini2010 profile image83
      kallini2010posted 6 years agoin reply to this

      I am an only child, but as far as I know there is an advantage to being the eldest sibling.  One of them would be actually having a sibling.

      I wish now when I am 42, I had siblings. I don't.  My family is very nuclear. My son is an only child as well, which is circumstantial.  If I could have another one, I would.

      I believe there must be a balance.  Parents might be able to maintain that balance or not, not much a child can do.  But life is not fair in general. We do not CHOOSE to appear in this world, we do not CHOOSE our times, our parents, our children.  We CHOOSE our spouses and usually do a very poor job.

      I am not going to play an advocate for either the eldest or the youngest, but I think hardships make survivors.  "Babies" of the family are usually underachievers.

      1. Don Crowson profile image75
        Don Crowsonposted 6 years agoin reply to this

        Hey, I was a twin.  However, I believe that the oldest child is fortunate in learning and accepting responsibilty.  Of course some resent it in later years, but I think they are better prepared for life.

        1. gmwilliams profile image85
          gmwilliamsposted 6 years agoin reply to this

          From my observations, oldest children often have the shortest childhoods of any birth order.   Oftentimes, from early childhood, they are pushed and expected to be little adults.    They often assume responsibilities early while younger siblings of the same age are given more leeway.  This can be both a positive and negative effect upon the oldest child.   Many oldest children, especially if they are from small to medium sized families, often relish the role of advisor and leader.   In medium large to very large families, oldest children often strongly resent always being "on" 24/7 for their younger siblings.   Many oldest children of such families resent such arduous responsibilities and as adults often AVOID any type of responsibility thus preferring an absolutely carefree life.   

          I have noticed that oldest children in families are often the most unhappiest and constantly complaining.   I can name several: one woman who is the oldest of three children strongly resented looking after her younger siblings as a child and teenager.   She constantly bemoaned her fate, stating that she had given up her childhood.    Another woman, who is the oldest of eight children, do not want any type of responsibility at all.   She wanted the attention and to be taken care of.   At work, she pretended to be slow  and stupid as not to be given more responsible tasks.

          1. Don Crowson profile image75
            Don Crowsonposted 6 years agoin reply to this

            My wife is the oldest of fiuve children.  She is well-adjusted and appers to have no ill effects from her responsibilities.  She is a great house keeper and a great cook.

        2. gmwilliams profile image85
          gmwilliamsposted 3 years agoin reply to this

          Many oldest children RESENT the responsibilities thrust upon them.  They believe that they bore the brunt of family life while their siblings HAD IT MUCH, MUCH EASIER.   Many oldest children were so inundated with responsibilities as children that they want to led carefree lives as adults.   Oldest children in LARGE and VERY LARGE families have it THE TOUGHEST.  They have NO CHILDHOOD/ADOLESCENCE being adults from early childhood.

          Hear that sound
          The hammer pounding, pounding
          From sunup to sundown
          No longer a name but a number
          I am just a slave........

          Oldest children are either cast aside and made servicable to their parents/younger siblings. They really have NO INDIVIDUAL LIVES to call their own.  I would not be THE OLDEST CHILD in a family for all the tea in China.  Oldest children lead semi-hellish lives to say the least!

          1. gmwilliams profile image85
            gmwilliamsposted 2 years agoin reply to this

            Oldest children are the least hugged of all birth orders.  Parents feel that it is unnecessary to show their oldest children any type of attention or affection. They feel that such children are FAR TOO OLD for this. They also are harsher towards their oldest child, granting them no quarter when they make mistakes. It must be sad to live such a life.

            1. wilderness profile image97
              wildernessposted 2 years agoin reply to this

              As an oldest child, having raised two of my own and watched 6 grandchildren being brought up, I find both statements (love and harshness) to be fallacies.

              1. gmwilliams profile image85
                gmwilliamsposted 2 years agoin reply to this

                I have seen it.  Parents treat the oldest child roughly. They are expected to be little soldiers and tough.  If they exhibit any type of feelings or emotions, they are harshly admonished to stop being a baby and GROW UP.  They also may be physically admonished.   Oldest children are hugged less and generally shown less affection than their younger siblings.  Forget about it in large/very large families of 6 children or more, oldest children are cast aside, even discarded and seldom interact with their parents unless they are pressed into service.  Parents of large/very large families DON'T show their oldest children love, attention, nor care. It is figured that such oldest children are FAR TOO OLD for this. They also believe that showing their oldest children affection is babying, mollycoddling, and spoiling them.

    2. Cagsil profile image61
      Cagsilposted 6 years agoin reply to this

      I would say that your belief could apply to some children, but will not apply to all.

      1. gmwilliams profile image85
        gmwilliamsposted 6 years agoin reply to this

        To Cagsil:  What you are saying is true.  In small to medium sized families, oldest children are usually in a more advisory and executive role in the family.   Many oldest children in small to medium families receive the love and nurturance of their parents.    Oldest children in small to medium sized families are allowed to have their childhood and individualized time to themselves.   They are not placed in the role of second parent.  Oldest daughters in small to medium sized families are not slated to raise their younger siblings as oldest daughters in medium large to very large families are.   They are loved and treated as princesses.

        Oldest children in medium large to very large families have no childhood.   They are usually forced to raise their younger siblings thus forfeiting their own childhoods and adolescence.   Oldest children in such families are usually overlooked, overused, and underappreciated.   Oldest children in medium large to very large families are usually on call 24/7/365 to their parents and younger siblings.   In essence, the life of oldest children in medium large to very large families is equivalent to that of an enslaved person in the antebellum South or a slave laborer in Nazi labor and concentration camps-hellish to say the least.

    3. CWanamaker profile image95
      CWanamakerposted 6 years agoin reply to this

      As the oldest of three children, I can attest to many of these facts.  I was a role model and often the example for my younger brothers.  In some ways this made things tough, but in others it helped to shape who I am today. 

      Being the first born child affords one many experiences that the other children don't get to partake in.  One also has to bear the burden of being a part of mom and dad's parental inexperience and experimentation. Good times.

      1. gmwilliams profile image85
        gmwilliamsposted 5 years agoin reply to this

        That is so true.  That is why parents are harsher and more exact with their firstborn child than they are with their laterborn children.   This parental attitude is absorbed by the oldest children who is often more harsh and exact in interfacing with their peers and younger siblings.   Oldest children, in general, are totally non-lenient and do not believe in granting anyone any quarter nor leniency so to speak!

  2. alissaroberts profile image88
    alissarobertsposted 6 years ago

    Being the oldest child in the family does have its advantages and disadvantages. I was the oldest and it seemed like I had to break my parents and their strictness down a notch. By the time my sister came along, she enjoyed a lot more freedom than I ever did. We often joke that I did all the hard work. Do I resent it? No I think all parents start out harder on the first one - it is just natural for new parents. As an adult, it had no ill effects on me. I would say that my experience of being the oldest helped me be more responsible and independent.

    1. gmwilliams profile image85
      gmwilliamsposted 6 years agoin reply to this

      This is so true.   When the oldest child is born, parents are new to parenthood.  This results in parents being stricter with their oldest child than they are to their succedent children.   As you said, oldest children are often the experimental board for their parents.  You are not the only oldest child who said this.   I know countless oldest children who indicated that they asserted themselves against parental authority and as a result, their parents relaxed thus becoming more relaxed with the younger children.

      However, oldest children, because of their ordinal position in the family, are held to a higher, harsher, and different standard than their younger siblings.   The oldest child is oftentimes punished and blamed for things that their younger siblings committed.   He/she has the least childhood and adolescence out of all the birth orders.   The childhood and adolescence of the oldest child in the family, especially medium large to very large family, is often compared to the days of the winter solstice- very short!  Oldest children are pressured to be adults sooner.   The life of the oldest child in the family is so tough!   I actually feel for anyone who is the oldest child in their families!   Glad it is you and not me!

      1. manlypoetryman profile image76
        manlypoetrymanposted 6 years agoin reply to this

        Alot of what you say...rings some truth...although the "big family" part would not apply to my family. I am the oldest and I see "weirdness"...all the time...in expectations of a younger child....compared to the oldest. The oldest is supposed to be the quiet one...the one that gets everything done...and the family can just fall back on that. The oldest one may be wrestling with many things....but then must submit a five part business plan to explain it to his family.

        Whereas...the youngest one can just shrug their shoulders and say they have had it with something...and that suffices. It gets weird if you stop and analyze it. Luckily, for me...I am on the downhill side of trying to analyze this...kind of stuff. I could really care less now...and have moved on...in my thinking. But...I do see the differences. Oh, Buddy...I sure do see them!

        1. gmwilliams profile image85
          gmwilliamsposted 6 years agoin reply to this

          This is so true.  The motto for the oldest child in the family is overused and underappreciated.  The oldest child in the family is on 24/7/365. Boy, are they on.  They are supposed to set the example for their younger siblings.  You are so on target- you must be good and perfect all the time.   

          Besides being good, you have to be smarter and more than your younger siblings.  After all, they are looking up to you.   I have said this repeatedly, the oldest child in the family is the toughest and unluckiest birth order there is.  Oldest children neither get any slack nor reprieve at all.  I seriously would not wish being the oldest child in the family on my worst enemy.    I feel the most for oldest children in the family because they must endure the most and smile about it!

  3. Joy56 profile image61
    Joy56posted 6 years ago

    no no no no no no.... I am the middle one of three girls, my eldest and youngest sisters could do no wrong,,,, i am the scapegoat.... sob.

    1. couturepopcafe profile image61
      couturepopcafeposted 6 years agoin reply to this

      I feel your pain.  I'm the middle child of three girls and have realized that even though I thought the other two always got away with everything, it was really my own independent upstart ways that got me into trouble with the parents (and everyone else). 

      The oldest sister is the nurturer, the responsible one.  She always feels the burden to take care of everyone even though we're all adults now. 

      The youngest one was the smartest one.  She just did her own thing.
      My brother is the baby and the first boy so he really got it all.

    2. gmwilliams profile image85
      gmwilliamsposted 6 years agoin reply to this

      I do have a post on the middle child.

  4. profile image58
    OldestDaughterposted 15 months ago

    i'm the oldest of 4 children. I'm also a teenage girl . Right now i'm going through a tough time in my life where I feel unappreciated by everyone . My siblings disrespect me to no end , my mom doesnt care about my needs and never even puts them on her list, and my dad always says something when we're alone but never acts upon it . It's me , my brother , then my younger sisters . My brothers in a preteen years and he's a huge a**hole but everytime we get into an agreement my mother picks his side no matter what it is and my father picks mine but might says something about my brothers behavior but never acts upon it . One day my brother called me a b*tch in front of my mom and she laughed , I slapped him then my mom grabbed me around my neck and pushed me into a wall and cursed me for hitting him. She only told me brother to stop cursing at me then gave me the stank eye and walked off . My younger sisters ruin everything , from peeing in my bed , breaking my chandelier, breaking my camera , ripping my sheets and spilling nail polish everywhere , messing my tv up , messing with my make up, etc . I've always felt unappreciated in this household. I remember when I was 9 I had a breakdown because i felt like a parent instead of a sister and that was the only time my mother showed she cared . After everytime I brought it up she laughed and told me to shut up . My birthday was in july and it's october. I got absolutely NOTHING from either of my parents and everytime I bring it up my mother either tells me that i'm to old to be upset or that christmas is coming . Also neither of m parent got me anything for school . Anytime I mention wanting something my mom either tells me , "We have bills to pay ", " your siblings need stuff you're not our only child " , " I don't wanna hear about this anymore " .  i've tried to get a job but they're is absolutely no one who can take me after school and i'm also very busy with school . My brothers birthday is two weeks after mine he gets two video games , bowling , and dinner , my youngest sisters birthday was about a month after she went out for dinner ,got lots of presents ,and had a party . Recently over fall break my parents took my siblings and one younger cousins out of town to this arcade and to dinner but before they left they told me they where going to " the zoo " they spent $100 dollars on game and $40 dollars on dinner. I did go out of town for break but my mom forced me even though i said i'd rather the money be spent on my hair or clothes she insisted and said that she'd still get my hair done . I went and it honestly wasn't anything amazing or exciting. In my family i'm unappreciated and expected to watch over the kids , cook , and clean for them even when my parents are home . Neglect is all I fill although I love my siblings with everything in me and i'd die for them I feel as though they've ruined my life . My mother is just a b*tch and she even says that she knows it . In my family we laugh and joke a lot like always it someway in the middle she find a way to get upset with me and yells that i need to realize that i'm a child and she's not one of my friends (trust me I don't want a friend like you ) honestly I can't wait to get out of this hell hole .

    1. gmwilliams profile image85
      gmwilliamsposted 15 months agoin reply to this

      That is the life of the typical oldest child.  Oldest children go through hell.

      1. Live to Learn profile image80
        Live to Learnposted 15 months agoin reply to this

        Seriously? You must be an oldest child.

        All children perceive their lives to be hell, at one moment or another. Each child gets perks and problems, depending on where they are in the line of succession. 

        It has been my observation that the oldest child whines the most about getting the least (followed by the middle child) but I don't remember my siblings or the siblings of my friends being slighted or rewarded for being older, younger or in the middle.

        1. gmwilliams profile image85
          gmwilliamsposted 15 months agoin reply to this

          Not at all.  I am a BLESSED only child but I know oldest children who went through the hell of being unappreciated by their families.  I had a great childhood & great parents who appreciated me-my childhood & adolescence was HEAVEN-PARADISO.  Many oldest children are cast aside & only noticed when they are pressed into service of their parents & siblings.  WOULDN'T wish being an oldest child on my worst enemy.  Again, slaves & forced laborers have it MUCH EASIER than oldest children emotionally, mentally, psychologically, & especially psychically.  I KNOW many oldest children & have SEEN this firsthand on how they were treated by their families.   

          Oh Live & Learn, do I have tales to tell you about oldest children.  There were at least 3 where I worked.  One who was the oldest of 8 whined constantly about never receiving any attention.  Each time supervisors praised me & placed me in leadership positions, she whined that she would make a GREAT supervisor.   She even complained to the other co-workers that she wished that SOMEONE would have paid attention to her.   

          Another one who was the oldest of 3 complained that she never had a childhood because of her younger siblings.  The last one who was the oldest of 7 hated her life & HATED me because I was an only child who said that my childhood was happy.  The last oldest person HATED all only children & she couldn't get along w/her siblings nor the people she worked with. 

          On the personal front- there was a person who was the oldest of 10 who was constantly overburdened.  She hated her life, constantly wishing she was dead & she hoped that she died one day.  Her family only contacted her when they wanted something.  She was needy, always wanting attention.  Sad case really.   Other oldest that I have known merely complained.....DAY IN & DAY OUT.