Older Sibling Syndrome

“Scientists have found that first-born children are smarter than their brothers and sisters. It appears they are more likely to succeed in business, too.”

This excerpt from a 2007 USA Today article confirms something I already knew (just kidding Lauren ; ) ) But really, I definitely believe in the “older sibling syndrome”. I should know, being the strong, independent and knowledgeable older sibling that I am.

The first two years of my life, it was the Allie show. We have several home videos labeled “Allie” and photo albums filled with pages of me running around naked or working on my potty training (awww).

Enter younger sister Lauren. Helllloo, who was she to cramp my style? Apparently my mom wanted her to wear the same outfit home from the hospital that I had worn when I was born. Not happening. My two-year-old self threw a fit and screamed. Those were my clothes, was she crazy?

Fast forward a couple of years. I had accepted she was probably going to stick around for a while. Perfect! It meant I could have a little person to make my slave (a bit dramatic but you older siblings know what I’m talking about). Home videos at this point in my life now featured both me and my slave sister, but the balance was still shifted toward me, the attention-seeking older sister. Case in point:

Scene: Christmas, 1992. Allie: 5 Lauren: 3

Allie: Okay Lauren it’s your turn to open a present, here you go (note: I chose which present she could open)

Lauren: Yayyy!!!

[Lauren begins to slowly open present]

Allie: Lauren, look, do it this way. I’ll help you with it!!

[Allie grabs present from Lauren’s hands and begins to rip off paper]

Lauren: [seeing present] ahh yayy!! A cuwewing book!! (translation: coloring book)

Allie: isn’t it nice Lauren? But you’re going to share, right? We’re sharing everything right Lauren???

End scene.

As the older sibling, I yearned for control and strived on being right. I did everything first and wanted to do everything well. I got straight As in high school, was on class council and president of the yearbook club, never went below a 3.7 in college and got a job in my field immediately after graduation. I told my sister she needed to try harder in school and had to stop quitting sports, that skipping gym class was ridiculous and if she wanted to get into a good college she needed to, essentially, get her shit together.

Then, at 19, my sister got engaged. As a sister who needed control and always had to be right, this did not fly well with me. I’m the older sister!! I do everything first! I’m supposed to get married and have kids first.. then you!! And marrying so young? Why would you do that???

Needless to say, this news shook the older-sibling syndrome within me. I had my own ideals about marrying young and why it’s important to wait until you’re financially stable. I’m the older sister, shouldn’t she agree with the righteous beliefs I have?

But Lauren’s not the three-year-old girl forced to share toys (and beliefs) with me anymore. She makes up her own mind and has her own ideals. The idea of marrying someone at such a young age scares the shit out of me. But good for her if she’s got the faith to do it.

I’ll always be a control freak. And I’ll always think that as the older sibling, I’m right. But I have grown up enough to learn when to loosen the reins on that control and step back a bit.

I’ll have my own kids to boss around some day. For now, I’ll let Lauren grow up.

Tell me about your older-sibling stories. Or if you’re the younger sibling… fill me in on the view from down there ; )

10 responses to “Older Sibling Syndrome

  1. we had to do an activity as camp counselors one summer that dealt with all the different personalities we might see in the kids due to their place in the family.

    everyone seemed to agree with the older sibling theory except for me. i have middle-child syndrome as the oldest, and my younger brother is definitely the “mature” one that we all strive to be like, even though he’s 3 years younger than I am.

    • Good point! I have some friends who are middle children who take on the role of that “older sibling theory” … even though they’re not. I wonder if it makes a difference if there are 2 kids or 3 or 5 in your family. Although, I guess if you don’t believe in it, you probably don’t think it matters at all how many kids there are ; )

  2. I’m the youngest of three children. And the only girl. While my older brothers have recently become strict about some things (they wore shirts that said “Don’t look at my sister” to all my dance competitions, and threaten almost every guy that even talks to me), when I was younger they basically let me do my own thing. I wasn’t subjected to my brother’s oldest-sibling-syndrome until very very recently.

    My brother is constantly imposing his beliefs on me, and always makes his opinion known with even the most miniscule decisions (No, no, no. Dairy Queen is MUCH better than Coldstone. There’s no way you’re going to Coldstone.) If my brother had lived his life like you had, getting good grades in college & a job in his field, then I would most likely take his advice more seriously. However, my brother dropped out of college his 3rd year, lied to my parents, telling them he was still enrolled, and spent his college tuition money on pampering his then-girlfriend. He didn’t end up with enough money to pay his rent OR his multiple DUI tickets, and ended up evicted, in jail, and unemployed.

    Now we’re both living at home with our parents (I’m 18. He’s 26.) and he’s still constantly lecturing me about how to live my life, and tries to convince me that if I don’t do things the way he says, I’ll irreversibly fuck up my life. Like, oh I don’t know, end up 26, with a jail record, no degree, and no job? Yeah, that would suck.

    • okay first off, those t-shirts are HILARIOUS. seriously. that’s kind of awesome. but thanks for your input as the youngest sibling! I think it definitely does matter that your brother puts all his opinions in your face but then doesn’t lead a traditionally ‘successful’ life. Maybe it’ll work to your benefit since you’ll work so hard to avoid a lifestyle like that? for the time being, screw him and live your own life (yes, this is an older sibling speaking).

  3. I’m the oldest of 2. My brother is only 15 months younger than me, but I’ve always believed I have the older sibling syndrome. I’ve always been the more responsible and level-headed one. When I was younger I felt like he would get away with EVERYTHING and my parents always sympathized with him… sometimes I thought it was because both my parents themselves are the youngest of their siblings. I will admit that my brother is more book-smart than I am… but I hold all the common sense and practical knowledge (which I think is wayy more important!). I’m constantly trying to get him to see things the way I see them, because to me it’s like, why doesn’t everyone think the way I do! It’s only logical! But we are complete opposites, and I have to take a step back and realize that he has a different approach to things.

    • Sounds just like me!!what’s so hard about seeing things our way??? haha. But really, thanks for the comment! I try and step back too and recognize the differences in personalities and approaches. easier said than done, for sure.

  4. I totally know what you mean here. I am not the oldest sibling in my family, but I am the older sister and I did much of the same thing to my sister when she was looking at colleges. I think the hardest part about losing control is the fact that when our siblings were younger, they gave us all the control. I remember how annoyed I used to get when my family went out to dinner. I would order something for dinner and my sister, who may have previously said she was going to order something else, would order whatever I had. My parents eventually made her start ordering first, but even with that method, she would change her mind once I ordered my food. And now, the fact that my sister doesn’t want to do everything I want to do, or tell her to do, is crazy, because before, I couldn’t get her to stop!

    I definitely can relate to so many of the stories you told in here. I’m definitely guilty of that.

  5. I remember the day Lauren came home from the hospital. A very cold, snowy day in November. Wearing a simple, cotton Onesie and wrapped in a wool blanket. …Watching Allie drop herself to the hopital floor kicking and screaming was not worth the nastalgia of bringing Lauren home in her sister’s outfit. The fighting over clothes continued for the next two decades.

    • yeah well if she didn’t steal my clothes and hide them under her mattress we might not have had so many problems…

      and coming home from the hospital in a onesie made her tougher!

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