I come from a family of five. There are my parents, me, a younger brother, and a younger sister. My younger brother is 3 years younger than me, while my sister is 4 years younger than me.
I had a nice life living on my own for 3 years until my brother was born, and then all the attention was shifted to him. Back then when I was a child, and it was a slap in the face.
Before him, I was getting all the attention from everyone, i.e. my parents, my grandparents from both sides, my extended family from both sides, all my cousins etc. It was amazing.
After the presence of my little brother, my little sister was born. So, it was like a double slap to the face because now things have shifted from getting everyone’s attention, to giving attention to the ones who took that away from me.
Of course, I was mad, but what could I do? Growing up was hard because I was competitive, I wanted to be the best (still do). I would say that I was smarter than the average child, so my parents wouldn’t worry about me a lot. They instead shifted the attention to my siblings.
All of these made me realize that there while there were cons for little me, there are also pros for grown up me. And here’s what I, and every other eldest child learned growing up.
You will forever be responsible for your siblings
As I mentioned, I was responsible for my siblings. It was like I was the second mother to them at some point. I didn’t need to feed them or bathe them or anything, but there were (are) some things which I took care of for them.
For example – I need to help them with homework, help them with things they don’t understand, help them with their chores etc. All of these I’m fine with, but I just can’t stand them relying on me for everything.
A good thing that comes from this is that I can boss them around. Since I am in charge most of the time, I can tell them what to do, even though most of the time they don’t obey me. Still, I get to be the boss of them.
What can I say? I was power hungry as a child.
Your parents will have high expectations for you and expect you to be the role model for your siblings
Now that we’ve grown up, it’s more than just helping them with their homework. I must become a role model for them. My parents have high expectations of me since, to be honest, academically I am the best out of the three children, so it’s safe to say that all their hopes and dreams are on me.
I must be the best, or if not the best, then at least respectably good at everything else. Though they did try to help and support me in various ways but the stress and pressure is still there.
They didn’t explicitly say it, but I could tell from their actions and words. As the oldest child, I have to know everything about everything.
There are some funny and ridiculous examples. One time my mom called me to ask me to change the date of my sister’s plane ticket (note that my sister is 19 when this happened) instead of calling the airline because, and I quote:
“You should know because you are the big sister.”
This statement is both hilarious and infuriating to me because a) I do not have the power to do that, and b) just because I am the eldest, I should know how to do it? Does this mean my little sister can just not know things and expect me to help her every time?
Your parents are not as strict as they are with your siblings than with you
As you grow up, you witness the tragedy of your parents being more lenient to your siblings.
My siblings are getting away with things that I could never have gotten away with, like having bad grades. Speaking of which, growing up I was constantly stressed from having to get good grades, or risk disappointing my parents. I had to be the best, while my parents are okay with my siblings being only average or above average when it comes to grades.
It is unfair, yes, but it also shapes me to be the perfectionist that I am nowadays. I am always striving for the best, maybe a bit too much at times but it is a good thing.
You are the one that makes all the sacrifices
Being an oldest child sucks in terms of having to try everything first and then becoming a lesson for your siblings so that they won’t repeat your mistakes.
For example, in terms of education (I talk a lot about school and grades because that’s the thing I feel is most unfair, and also because we’re Asian, everything relates back to grades) my parents didn’t graduate from university, they only had middle school degrees. They have no idea about what’s it like enrolling in a university, and what happens after SPM.
I wanted to do my foundations straight after SPM, and they agreed to that initially. However, after some influences from their peers, they decided to send me to A-Levels to ‘try it out’, despite me not wanting to do A-Levels.
In the end I failed, so they know not to send my siblings there. And I was in science stream in high school, and seeing how much I struggled, they knew not to put my siblings in science (well, not that they can choose anyway, the school automatically assigns you based on your grades).
I tried so many things just so in the future my siblings won’t have to go through what I went through. I mean, all of those are a part of my process in growing up but still, it would be nice if I were not the one to ‘experience’ all of those.
There are times I wish I had an older brother or sister so I would know what to do with my life instead of just blindly doing everything hoping that I stumble upon the right path.
As a conclusion, yes, being the oldest sucks sometimes, but at the same time, it also comes with a lot of perks. My parents would let me do a lot of things like travelling to Europe on my own and go to Italy for an exchange when I was 15 because they know that I’m capable of taking care of myself.
I know how to take care of people, I know what to do and what not to do, I learned a lot during all these years of babying my siblings. At the end of the day, albeit complaining about being the oldest, I still love being the oldest, and I am sure you do too.
For similar articles, read 6 Signs You Have Narcissistic Parents, and What I Wish I Knew About Love and Relationships in My 20s.