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Old 10-03-2009, 08:19 PM
 
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The Curse of the First-Born Child is what I call the family dynamic where the first-born has all of the parents hopes and dreams heaped onto him or her. Often the parents live vicariously through this child, who really gets all sorts of attention, pressure and push to succeed, as if the parents get a merit badge for having high achieving kids.

I've seen many first-borns who are either big successes or big failures, rarely an average so-so outcome; usually either heroes or neurotics.

By the time there are 4 kids in the family the last one gets away with murder as the parents are exhausted and burned out on the first three. In my own family I've seen this repeated for two generations, and in related families.

It certainly doesn't happen in all families, but I'm wondering if anyone else has noticed this sort of family dynamic, or if it's recognized as such by family counseling professionals.
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Old 10-03-2009, 11:47 PM
JS1
 
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I've heard of middle-child syndrome but not first-child syndrome.

I'm a first-child and miserably failed my mother's expectations, but that's OK because her expectations are impossible to achieve anyway.
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Old 10-03-2009, 11:49 PM
 
Location: Land of 10000 Lakes +
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Actually it's been stated that the youngest (say, the 4th) comes out ahead - grounded - getting
needs met by everyone and actually becomes quite successful and maybe the most normal.

First-born children get a lot of attention and teaching and usually turn out quite responsible and successful because of it.

It could be a curse, I suppose, if added pressure is placed on her/him.
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Old 10-04-2009, 01:46 AM
 
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There might be some kind of effect from birth order but I don't think it has so much to do with parents heaping on extra attention and all that onto a first child. If anything it's the other children that affect the first born. The first child - depending on gap in ages - might have 1 or 2 years of alone time with the parents but when the second child comes along, the first is bumped out of the attention getting spot, forced to move on.

Then as the children grow, the first born is always getting competition from the next in line. The second child may try to compete, try to get ahead but the first child has the age advantage and will always be looking over his shoulder to make sure number two isn't gaining on him. And if there are more children, the mother's attention is now focused on them. That's why I think the push is from below - not from the parents.

Last edited by malamute; 10-04-2009 at 02:02 AM..
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Old 10-04-2009, 01:51 AM
 
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All I know is that my younger brother and sister took every opportunity to scape goat me to the whipping post. Seems tides have turned in recent years. Sibling rivalry makes the world go round.
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Old 10-04-2009, 10:53 AM
 
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I have the same expectations for BOTH my children. To grow up to be good people.

Though I was one of four and i do think the youngest had less rules and restrictions then us older ones did, so maybe my parents were just tired.
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Old 10-04-2009, 12:13 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike from back east View Post
The Curse of the First-Born Child is what I call the family dynamic where the first-born has all of the parents hopes and dreams heaped onto him or her. Often the parents live vicariously through this child, who really gets all sorts of attention, pressure and push to succeed, as if the parents get a merit badge for having high achieving kids.

I've seen many first-borns who are either big successes or big failures, rarely an average so-so outcome; usually either heroes or neurotics.

By the time there are 4 kids in the family the last one gets away with murder as the parents are exhausted and burned out on the first three. In my own family I've seen this repeated for two generations, and in related families.

It certainly doesn't happen in all families, but I'm wondering if anyone else has noticed this sort of family dynamic, or if it's recognized as such by family counseling professionals.
Much depends on the nature of the child & birth order may, or may not, play a role in it. Some have children year after year. Some have children years apart. This has a huge impact on parenting. Your #1 may be 10 before #2 comes along or your #1 may be 17 months when your #2 comes along and so on. The expectations parents thus put on #1 are much different b/c age of #1 before #2 comes along does indeed play a major role.
Really, we all can't be bunched up together.

While I do expect the same things from both of my children (who are apart 2yrs apart), I expect those things DIFFERENTLY based on their nature. #1 does have a lot of expectation as does #2, but what I expect is not necessarily at the same level b/c they are two completely different children.

Some parents just want merit badges in general. Others just have high expectations. And that is their perogative.

I really don't think it can be easily summarized & we all get lumped together. There are hundreds of books written on birth order with a 100 counselors disagreeing with their hundreds of examples.
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Old 10-04-2009, 06:02 PM
 
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Interesting factoids:

[SIZE=2]Famous first born children: Walter Conkrite, Dan Rather, Oprah Winfrey, Rush Limbaugh and Arsenio Hall
More than 1/2 of the U.S. Presidents were first born children
21 of the 23 first astronauts were first born children
2/3 of entrepreneurs are first born children
43% of Fortune 500 CEOs are first borns, 23% youngest and 33% somewhere in the middle.
[/SIZE]

Source is USA TODAY
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Old 10-04-2009, 09:17 PM
 
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This is the history in my family too. Four generations now... the fourth child becomes an adult, but is still a child, lives with mom & dad (or OFF them) long past what was expected of #1 or #2 (or even #3). It was one of the reasons we stopped at #2.

That said, in dh's family, one side has 4 kids (dad & stepmom) and the other has 2 (mom & stepdad). My dh is the oldest on both sides. On both sides, the youngest children have grown up to be horribly spoiled, entitled people who think of no one but themselves. Both are well over the age of 21. It is hurtful to my husband to listen to his parents make excuses over and over again for the behaviors of the youngest when he has always been (and still is) held to a MUCH higher standard. I always point out that his parents have done his younger sibs a great disservice... he doesn't really WANT to be a worthless human being, now does he?

We are guilty of it ourselves though... we caught ourselves doing it to our two and through the recent extended family drama, have been working on holding our youngest to a higher standard while giving our oldest more privileges & rewards for the extra responsibilities and the extraordinary behaviors we have seen him accomplish.

I am a middle child who spent the first 17 1/2 years of her life being victimized and scapegoated by my mother, stepfather and siblings. I broke free of them, but not the "middle child syndrome". I probably never will. Oh well! I'm happy with who I am... even if no one else is!
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Old 10-05-2009, 07:04 AM
 
Location: Stuck on the East Coast, hoping to head West
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I'm a first-born and am definitely an overachiever, independent, etc. In my extended family, the youngest born are definitely suffering from peter-pan syndrome. They just don't want to grow up. They quit jobs at whim, don't have any long-term plans, etc. They assume everyone will continue to take care of them and, sadly, most in our family do. I am so glad I was born first.

I also have a branch of the family that tends to have children 5 years apart and that dynamic is definitely different. I would say each of those kids is more like an only child b/c age-wise, development-wise they are so far apart.

I have three children and I *try* to have the same expectations for all of them in terms of chores, manners, etc.
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