A Letter to the First Born

Many of you, myself included, may know how being the oldest feels; others may need to read this letter to recognize the obstacles firstborns often face. As the oldest, you are your parents’ first child. You are the first experiment, first trial run, first everything. It is also likely that you have the most photos as a baby because your parents just couldn’t contain their excitement. You were probably coddled and smothered as a single child up until the point that they decided to have another and let it be known that you are the reason they decided to have another. In other words, your siblings have you to thank for not making your mother tear her hair out too often or she would have never wanted to go through it a second, third or possibly even a fourth time.

Now, as you transition from being a single child to the eldest, there are many responsibilities that are ascribed to you. You have someone to protect, help raise, and to share everything with, whether you like it or not. I have found the most daunting task of all is to act as a sort of “third parent” to your younger siblings. This role becomes especially apparent when there is a significant age gap between the first born and the younger sibling. I was a third parent to three children and as a result, I grew up at an exponentially fast rate. You must realize that there will be times when your siblings choose to come to you over the people that actually created them as you are seen as more relatable and approachable. I would even argue that, under certain circumstances, you will be able to provide better advice and care for your siblings than your parents. I am not saying that we, as the eldest, can replace what parents do for their children or take away from their significance in their lives, but sometimes a mother’s high school experience with the mean girls from the ’80s simply isn’t going to cut it when giving advice to a child living in today’s world. So, even if your siblings do not recognize the role you play in their lives until they are much older, do not take this task lightly. You must be patient and caring, even when sibling-tendencies may pull you in the other direction.  

The purpose of this letter is not to bash younger siblings; we love them despite the fights, arguments and stolen belongings. Yet at the same time, they may never truly appreciate all of the things they are allowed to do simply because of us; and they will never appreciate the things they are allowed to do that we were not. My sisters, for example, will never understand the sweat and panic I dealt with just at the idea of introducing a boyfriend to our father. I have introduced him to two so far and the amount of progress he made the second time around was outstanding; just imagine what he’ll be like when my youngest sister brings home a boy of her own. I suppose what I am trying to say is that we do a lot for our siblings and we do not always get the recognition that we should for our efforts. Yet, even if we do not receive that recognition, our role as the eldest is a sacred one and we should always try to live up to it. Lastly, to any younger siblings that happen to read this: please thank the eldest—do not take their sacrifices and struggles for granted because, ultimately, they will always be by your side and I believe that in the end, your life will be much easier because of the mountains they’ve climbed for you.


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