Things Only the Oldest Siblings Can Relate to

A few weeks ago, while I was sitting with my mother watching comedian Hasan Minhaj interview a group of first-generation Asian American kids, I had noticed one of the kids mention how his older sister was the “experimental child” for his parents. After processing what this kid on my TV had said, I turned to my mother and proclaimed I was the experimental child. My mother, looking up from her book, confused, said “What?”. I explained to her that whatever parenting skills worked or hadn't worked on me, were or weren't used on my brother. She dismissed me as being a little ridiculous, but I did grow up as the “experimental child.” After this (very short) conversation with my mom, I had got thinking about the ways my little brother and I were raised, how personalities and actions differ.

First of all, I realized there are some pros and cons of being the first child. For example, a disadvantage would be having to follow stricter rules and restrictions growing up that I know for sure my brother doesn't have to follow now. One rule I had to follow when I was younger was making sure I completed all of my chores and homework as soon as I was told. However, my younger brother likes to take an hour or so before he does anything despite my parents having to say to him and get off zero repercussions continuously. Another con was having to continually look after my brother and getting blamed for almost everything because "I'm older and I should know better". Growing up, it was always a little bit annoying having him follow me around regularly and tagging along when my friends and I wanted to do something. Despite the cons, there are pros of being the first child. The best part of being the oldest child is being the first to do everything: first to drive, first to graduate, first to celebrate Mother’s and Father’s Day. I mean, if you really think about it, the first child receives the advantage of calling their parents mom and dad first. Another advantage of being the oldest is always having baby pictures and mementos to look back on. As the firstborn, your parents want to capture every milestone and its really cool having these tangible memories to look back on, even if I can't remember what I was like as a toddler.

Image Courtesy of Unsplash

I also thought a lot about how birth order affects personality traits, so I decided to look up personality traits of first and second-born children compare these traits to myself and my brother. Only by being the first child, a firstborn will naturally be raised with a mixture of instinct and trial-and-error. This often causes parents to become by-the-book caregivers who are incredibly attentive, stringent with rules, and overly neurotic. Firstborns tend to be reliable, independent, structured, controlling, and achievers with a Type-A personality. Firstborns are often used to being the center of attention. According to Dr. Frank Farley, a psychologist at Temple University, “many parents spend more time reading and explaining things to firstborns. It’s not easy when other kids come into the picture. That undivided attention may have a lot to do with why firstborns tend to be overachievers”. Some challenges the firstborn faces are an intense fear of failure, feeling as if nothing the accomplish is good enough or inflexibility and fear of change. On the other hand, the second child tends to be more rebellious, care-free, spoiled, stubborn, and fun-loving. The second-born child tends to take more risks, is more dependent, and is more mischievous. Parents are often known to coddle the second child when it comes to chores and rules, becoming lenient with the standards they had held for their firstborn. I noticed a lot the personality traits I read about and even talked to my parents about, held true for me. I definitely am the more reliable, structured, Type-A child compared to my brother while he is a little more relaxed and mischievous. 

I will never know what it is like to be the middle or the youngest in a family and although there were some moments that I really despised being the oldest. Looking back now, I can appreciate the benefits of being the oldest and why those experiences to help make me the person I am today. I love being able to hang out with my little brother, give him advice as he ventures through high school, and even mess around with him, despite how much our parents yell at us. I really am glad I'm the oldest child, especially since I have a really cool little brother to look after (but don't tell him I said that). 

Image Courtesy of Harina Patel