As I stated in “Lessons from my Internet Friend,” I am the oldest of two siblings. I have one sibling, a younger brother named Phillip. I would hope that my parents would’ve loved us equally throughout our lives, but as I have experienced, I really don’t think that this is the case.
My parents hold me to a higher standard than Phillip. When I was in seventh grade, when I was taking life science for the first time, I didn’t really have the greatest teacher. My parents still didn’t care and blamed all of my failures on me. Every time I got a bad test grade, they blamed me. Every time I messed up on a project, I was forced to take the blame. Only now, when it’s far too late to do anything about the situation, do they realize that I didn’t have the greatest teacher for that class. My brother would just get a stern talking to for failing a class, meanwhile I would get my iPod and my laptop taken away whenever I even got a C on a test, and god forbid I fail a class, because then I’d probably get spanked or something. The same thing applies to all of my other academic endeavors.
It wasn’t just academics. When I was of the age where I could finally get a job for the first time, I wanted one so bad. When I told my parents this, they just blew it off and told me to focus more on school. I had asked them countless times for them to help me to get a work permit and they kept saying no, meaning that I had to wait until the summer between my senior year and my freshman year of college to get my first job. Meanwhile, my brother, who didn’t even want a job at all, got one without even trying. No need for a work permit, no need for a resume, not even an interview was needed for him. To this day, that kind of stuff still makes me very angry, because I just couldn’t — and still can’t — understand why this would happen.
As I have taken the brunt of a lot of punishments growing up, I now have anxiety, because I fear that if I even do something remotely horrible, I would get my laptop broken or my phone destroyed or my TV smashed or something, even though I am now an adult. Because of this, I have been put on an anti-anxiety medication, called Zoloft, by my doctor. It helped a little bit, at first, but I don’t really think it’s doing too much to me now, and if it you don’t believe me, just read my article called “Struggles with My Organic Chemistry Professor.”
My anxiety is so bad, in fact, that in the article I just mentioned, I talk about how I am suicidal because of seemingly simple struggles I encounter in my life. I tried talking to my parents about it, but they just don’t see it the same way that I see it, and at this point, I don’t think they will ever. If it came from my brother, then that would be a whole different story.
There is actually some science behind why the oldest sibling is treated worse than the younger sibling. According to a study out of Duke University, the reason that parents treat the oldest child differently is because they want to deter the younger child(ren) from taking part in risky behavior. The oldest child then is more likely to not be as rebellious as their younger sibling(s). The study also stated that parents’ motive for deterrence gradually diminishes as the youngest child(ren) reach the age of adolescence, the earliest of which is around eleven years old. This implies that later-born children are more likely to engage in risky behaviors. According to a survey of data from the National Longitudinal Study of Youth, first-born children that did things like drop out of school or become pregnant were more likely to be punished for these “rebellious” actions by their parents in the form of the child being kicked out of the family house and the child not receiving financial support from the parents, therefore, the younger siblings were less likely to engage in these risky behaviors.
So I guess I’m not alone, even though sometimes I feel that way, and now I have a nice, scientific way to explain what I have went through in my life, since my little brother was born.
The final message is this: Younger siblings, please be grateful when you’re getting punished because it could always be a lot worse. Oldest siblings, if you’re punished harder than your younger sibling(s) even though you both did the EXACT SAME THING, it’s not your fault. Parents, when you say that you love all of your children, please actually mean it, and then prove that you mean it by following up on that statement.
I don’t want any more people like me in the world.