Five things I learnt growing up as the oldest sibling

All first borns would probably be able to relate to these.

Meagan Goh

Afraid of cats, but learning to be brave. Would rather live in a fairytale.

Published: 7 January 2021, 4:21 PM

Growing up as the oldest with a younger sister and a younger brother has both its advantages and disadvantages. 

There were times when I’m glad that I was born first and times when I wished I could trade places with one of them. 

Apart from pulling the seniority card and bossing my younger siblings around, to getting blamed for their mistakes, here are a few things I learnt growing up as the oldest sibling.

1. Learning to mature faster

As the oldest child, I’ve always had this added pressure to be a good role model as I knew my siblings looked up to me. But it can be hard at times, considering the fact that I was also a child too. 

My parents always expected me to “know better” than my siblings and as such, whenever we get into a fight, I was chided for not giving in. On top of that, I was yelled at for not ‘teaching’ them or advising them whenever they made a mistake. 


My parents were harder on me than anyone else because I was expected to set a good example for my siblings. PHOTO CREDIT: AUGUST DE RICHELIEU VIA PEXELS


That said, I’ve already gotten used to it and they are learning to let go bit by bit as I grow older as well.

2. Learning how to be a leader

I am indeed pretty ‘bossy’ when it comes to my younger siblings. In my defence, I was brought up and groomed to behave this way since I’m expected to be their role model. 

Since I’m just as likely to get into trouble as my siblings when they do something wrong, I’ve developed an eagle-eyed vision to ensure that they behave. 

I’m also the one who they turn to whenever things go wrong, or even come up with a plan for night activities. That helped me to learn to figure things out on the fly and how to play by ear. I also learnt the importance of delegating and had many chances to practice skills that any good leader should have. 

But I have to admit that I abuse my power sometimes by making my siblings do simple tasks for me such as pouring a glass of water or helping me fetch something to eat from the kitchen. 


I’m guilty of ordering my younger brother to refill my bottle whenever it’s empty. PHOTO CREDIT: BLUEWATER GLOBE VIA UNSPLASH


After all that I’ve gone through and done for them, I’m sure bossing them around this way won’t hurt. It’s sad that I can’t boss them around like this anymore now that they’re older, it was definitely fun while it lasted.

3. Learning to care for others at a young age

I used to babysit my siblings all the time when they were younger – not that it was by choice. 

Fortunately, my siblings and I get along well and while we do fight at times, we reconcile by laughing it off almost immediately. Because we spend so much time together, we are very close and they like to tag along in whatever I do. 

Recently, my aunt gave birth to my little cousin and he comes over almost everyday to get babysitted while his parents go to work. 

My grandmother is his main caregiver but my siblings and I have to take over sometimes while she attends to other things.


My siblings assisted my grandmother in taking care of him more than I did as they were on school holiday while I had to work. PHOTO CREDIT: LINA KIVAKA VIA PEXELS


Now, they finally get a taste of what it was like!

4. Learning to share

As someone who has a younger sister, I had to learn to share all of my possessions at a young age. This includes everything from clothes to accessories to shoes and even my bed. 

I’ve always shared a room with my sister until two years ago when my family moved into a bigger house. But even so, my sister still comes into my room to sleep with me from time to time, as she claims to have ‘two beds’ in the house. 

To be honest, I didn’t mind sharing my clothing or accessories with her because that meant that I was entitled to her possessions as well. However, the problem comes when we want to wear the same clothes, carry the same bag and wear the same shoes. 


Call it sister telepathy or whatever, but only those with a sister would understand how enraging this actually is. PHOTO CREDIT: ANNA SHVETS VIA PEXELS


Thankfully, this doesn’t happen often anymore because we’re both very different in terms of aesthetic and style.

5. Developing good work ethics

As part of setting a good example, I was hardly allowed to slack. I was always told that I had to be hardworking so that my siblings would follow suit. 

And so I did, just because I was told to at first but as time passed, it became a habit and part of who I am today. 

Working hard on a task and completing it on time has already become one of my practices and I am also very strict on myself for this. 

Of course, I’m not trying to say that only all firstborns have good work ethics, but at least for me, being the oldest has helped me to develop this important habit. 

Although I tend to complain and speak poorly of my siblings to my parents, I find myself looking out for them all the time. 

It’s funny how I have this protective feeling over someone that drives me up a wall but it comes very naturally, like it’s in my blood. 

No matter what, I love my siblings very much, even if they are the most annoying people in the world. We are incredibly blessed to have one another and will always have each others’ backs. 

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