Life in the Fast Lane

A TRIATHLETE'S MULTISPORT ADVENTURES, TRAVELS, RANDOM MUSINGS, AND CHRONICLES OF HER OTHERWISE ORDINARY LIFE

How to be the Eldest

By 4:41 PM , , , , , ,

Here's a long-overdue entry that I once thought of writing when I compared life as the eldest child in my family to my friends' (who are also the eldest in their families). This was born from my experiences as a teen and now as an older sister to young adults and a teenager.


I finally decided to finish and post it.

Tada!

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Dear Eldest Child,

With great power comes great responsibility. According to Spiderman, at least.

But it's true, dear Eldest. You do possess a certain kind of power, whether you're a boy or a girl. You were the one your parents loved first. You were the one your aunts, uncles and grandparents spoiled first. You were the one whose birth was the most documented. You were the one who had the finest clothes and never had to experience the Hand Me Down Syndrome. You were the one who attended and took part in every conceivable activity known to childhood because your parents were so excited to have you in their life.

However, you are also held responsible for so many things precisely because you are your parents' firstborn. All of their successes and failures in parenting went through you so they expect that out of all of their children, you should've learned the most. In certain situations, they expect you to act like the third parent in the household; that you pay certain bills, go grocery shopping, run the house when they're not around and play referee to your younger siblings. When crises hit the family, oftentimes, you end up being the scapegoat of your parents because they know you can take it -- even if, most of the time, you don't deserve it. When your parents fight, you end up being the middleman or woman even if it's impossible to choose sides. If you're a girl, they expect you to be the second mom of the house: able to cook, change your siblings' diapers and help them with their homework. If you're a boy, they expect you to drive them around (especially when errands are involved) and act as your siblings' defender when they run into trouble (this also means being the watchdog of anything provocative that they might wear).

Don't take it personally if your parents are extra hard on you; after all, they invested in you first. Don't also feel bad when you compare how strict they might have been when you were a teenager to how lax they are now that your siblings are teenagers. They've learned how to loosen up as they went from one child to another.

Here are five truths, if you may, that helped me go through the firstborn life. Hopefully they'll help you, too, if you are also the eldest child in your own family or if you want to advice your own firstborns.

1) OPEN UP

Your parents want to address you as a peer of theirs, someone on the same level as them. When they discuss serious matters, such as your studies, boy-girl issues, career opportunities, future plans, and other concerns, give them the same honesty and openness that you would give your friends. Your parents expect that of you and you should prove your trustworthiness by being as transparent as they are.

2) TAKE RESPONSIBILITY

Without your parents having to tell you what to do, take the initiative. Volunteer to pay the phone bill. Text your sibling/s to make sure everyone's home at a certain time. Accompany your mom to the supermarket. Tell your dad that you'll clean the car for him. Think of these as opportunities to show your independence and at the same time, that they can depend on you.

3) DON'T "ABUSE" YOUR PRIVILEGES

Just because you were the first in line for everything once upon a time, it doesn't mean that you're necessarily the apple of everyone's eye until now. Your parents, uncles and aunts, and grandparents shouldn't bequeath the newest iPad, cellphone or laptop to you over your equally deserving younger siblings or cousins. Your birthright shouldn't be the be-all and end-all of everything.

4) SOMETIMES, YOUR PARENTS WILL ACT LIKE KIDS AND YOU'LL HAVE TO STEP IN AND BE THE ADULT

"Tell your mom that she's being too demanding," your dad will say. "Tell your dad that he's being unreasonable," your mom will retort. Such is that delicate balance of policing your parents. You'll have to act adult enough for them to see both sides without overstepping your role as their child. You'll have to be objective enough without taking anyone's side. Remember in this tricky situation to be calm and to control your temper. After all, your parents are only human, too.

5) REVEL IN YOUR FIRSTBORN-NESS

When the going gets tough, when so much is demanded of you, remember that you're the eldest for a good reason. At the end of the day, you experienced your parents' love, care and attention longer than your siblings have. Your parents look at you differently; not just as someone they trust and depend on but someone who possesses a special place in their heart. You were the byproduct of their young love once upon a time, the one who transitioned with them throughout all their life stages.


One day, when you have your own firstborn, you'll finally and fully understand just how special you are in the eyes of your parents.

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6 comments

  1. OMG! I love this!
    (from one panganay to another) Haha!

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  2. Nicely written, tina!
    I'm a panganay too!

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  3. @ Jess: *apir* Don't you love and hate (sometimes) being the Ate? ;)

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  4. @ Aaron: Thanks! Panganays rule. ;) Reposted this on FB, too, and tagged you!

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  5. Thanks, Trins! Cheers to panganays everywhere! ;)

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