Inner Decisions

The "privileged" Firstborn?


Most of my clients are women and I often work with those who are the oldest of their siblings, or at least the oldest girl. They have assumed their designated roles as caretakers of their families. They have struggled with the nickname “the bossy one” among many other less desirable adjectives. They were groomed for their positions with repeated admonishments of “you are the oldest, you should have known better,” and “why did you let him/her do that?” “Help your sister fix her breakfast.” or “find your brother’s shoes.” These girls were often punished for not preventing a sibling’s misstep and learned to take the blame as part of the course of things. They were seldom granted second chances. They were charged with heavy “mommy’s-little-helper” responsibilities as soon as their first sibling came into the world. It’s not something they chose or wanted; it was something that was expected. Their personality developed as a result.

As clients, these women have frequently shared the feeling of longing to be “liked for who I am and not for what I can do for people.” Or “I wish I could just walk into a party and sit down and chat without feeling responsible to help the hostess.” And when we dig a bit deeper, some have said, “I just want to be first and not have to take a backseat to someone else because they needed it more.” One woman said, “I was so excited to get my driver’s license until I discovered it was just another tool of responsibility. It was another job. Driving became a prison sentence of sorts for me.  When my younger sister got her license, I was jealous of her. Sure, I didn’t have to cart her around so often, but then I became responsible for grocery shopping. There was always something.”  Another woman said, “Yes, I got new clothes, but I wasn’t allowed to feel good about the new clothes. I had to be careful of them because my sister was going to have to wear them next. When those clothes were handed down to her, she’d cry and say, ‘I hate wearing your old clothes.’ She hated me for having to wear my clothes when I had nothing to do with any of it. She hated me for taking care of her and for not taking care of her. It’s been a no-win situation for me. When I got new clothes all I could feel was ashamed that my sister was going to hate me.”

Are there rewards for those who were born first? Perhaps, though it seems they come at a price.

These women usually develop good management and supervisory skills. They go by the book and follow the rules. They are policymakers. They are good at making decisions involved with running a business or operations. Yet, they struggle with cooperative leadership. While they are good at carrying through with a plan, they were not granted the time to develop the creative thinking skills their siblings were. Firstborn women were forced to always look ahead with an eye toward preventing disaster and are good crisis workers. They grew thick skins to ward off the disdain their siblings had for them allowing them to flourish in the underappreciated service-oriented vocations. They have become so practiced at taking care of others these women excel in support roles and flounder when it comes to taking care of themselves.

We, in society, often take these women for granted because they are capable. A capability because of their birth order, and not because or anything they chose.


If you are struggling with family issues, contact Colleen Parsons of Inner Decisions for help with resolution. It’s time to free yourself from the chains that bind you. Make an appointment for Spiritual Life Coaching today.


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