• author
    • Hannah Sullivan

      Columnist
    • March 13, 2014 in Columnists

    Firstborn syndrome

    I don’t care what any mother, father, grandparent, aunt or cousin has to say – there is always a favorite and that favorite ain’t me.

    There are plenty of pros to being the firstborn. All those pros basically get thrown out the window as soon as another one is on the way. This is just my personal experience with being the oldest sibling. You probably think I’m wrong, and you’re probably the baby of the family, right?

    I’ve always known, but never really acknowledged until this week, how my birth order has affected me in the long run. Despite the age difference, I’d have to say that I’m much more independent and actually know what responsibility is compared to my sibling.

    I definitely agree that there is some science and truth behind the things I’ve read online about birth order. For starters, the firstborn child is a built-in babysitter. I’ve always felt this way even though I’ve been told otherwise. I think it’s like a subconscious thing. That strange need to almost mother a younger sibling is beyond my control and understanding. My mom always says I’m very motherly and I hate that word. I hate being called motherly. I don’t feel motherly. The last thing on my list of things to do in life is become a mother.

    Being the first also means you make all the big mistakes in life before the younger ones. We set the bar pretty high when you compare it to nothing. Makes the younger sibling’s journey a cakewalk compared to ours. I swear the younger child could get away with murder and no one would bat an eye. Again, just my experience.

    The responsibility aspect is what really grinds my gears. When I have to clean up after everyone and no one helps out is when I start to go crazy. Even simple things like taking care of the “family dog”( a.k.a. MY dog) is a friggin’ chore. I’ll bitch and moan about something and everyone will try for a day and then it will go right back to the way it was. Typical. I’d have an easier time moving a mountain than I would getting my family to help me out. I get that it’s my job to clean up so that I can keep on living at home, but I mean come on! It’s like a tornado hits the inside of my house when I come home from work. I leave it clean and come home to a mess.

    You probably think I resent the second child and are jealous of them. Wrong! I would never in a million years want to trade places with my sibling. My mother trying to baby me would get so old so very fast. Is that what all mothers do with the youngest child? Maybe I was just an independent child. I don’t really like help or lovely-dovey affection. I’m more of an extrovert loner, if that’s even a real thing.

    “Oldest females, on the other hand, are more likely to be bossy, confident and aggressive than their younger sisters.” That is me in a nutshell. This website also compares and contrasts relationships with people in our lives and how both birth orders of each person affect the relationship. Only two of my romantic relationships were firstborns and they were okay. One relationship was with a second-born and it was never boring, I’ll give it that. Most of my friends are younger siblings as well. Perhaps there is some science behind that, too. I don’t really give it much thought, but it’s fun to think about.

    Being the oldest does have its perks. I rarely ever get in trouble, unless of course I’m verbally assaulting my sibling. My name always comes first on birthday cards. The younger sibling has to try to get on my good side in order for me to drive them around. I also have a car before them. By the time they get around to driving, everyone has already given me their old cars. I get to sit at the adult table before them. Finally, the most important thing of all, I will always ALWAYS get the front seat.


      • Heather Alani

      • March 13, 2014 at 8:16 am
      • Reply

      The oldest child is given more responsibility in order to the parents to delegate attention in other areas. They usually grow up to be leaders, but having also felt a burden all too soon, they may act out later on in life. However, they are always the first to do everything. The second child kind of walks in the shadow of the first. I am the third out of four. We don’t really exist too much, so, we tend to go off in a world of our own. The third child is not competitive because early on they found fending for attention just too much work! Nice post. I agree no matter what your birth order you get screwed somehow. So is life, my dear.


        • Hannah Sullivan

        • March 13, 2014 at 8:26 am
        • Reply

        Exactly! My mom is also third out of four. I should see what she has to say about her birth order too.


      • Heather Alani

      • March 13, 2014 at 8:19 am
      • Reply

      I need an editor on my comments! 😀



    • I love being a first born. It has worked well for my 65 years.



    • This top of the pecking order business is serious stuff! I changed their diapers. They called me *Sissy* until Angela the baby yelled “Hi Sissy!” in front of my 8th grade constituents I already despised. We ARE their second mother’s this is most definitively ingrained into our psyche. More than mother’s we are the mother hens, we are head chickens in charge! You will be the one they come to when messy business needs to be cleared up. A fight with another child, a lost coat. We are the movers and shakers. We are dependable. We get things done. We make things happen. We love them. We protect them. I will steam roll over anyone that comes fractionally close to causing harm to my two sisters or my brother and the good Lord knows when it comes to steamrolling I have a PHD. I have found as an adult the years I invested in raising up my sibling army was well spent! In my moments of frailty when the insanity of life presses against my head, the light bill is unpaid, I fight with a lover or some other wretched event drops me emotionally to my knees, I RUN to my sister. One of the few places of absolute unconditional love and security is wrapped up in the arms of the girl I was in charge of making sure she didn’t leave the back yard. I applaud your column Hannah! Above all things, remember. We ALWAYS get to sit in the front seat. 🙂


        • Hannah Sullivan

        • March 15, 2014 at 8:13 am
        • Reply

        Thank you so much. Everything you said was spot on! I loved it!



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