Image by Ana Krach from Pixabay

Only someone who's been the older sibling knows the subtle struggles thrust upon a person forced into that role.


Compared to the younger sibling or siblings, the older child has a unique relationship to parents, their rules and guidance, how to navigate growing into an adult, and pretty much every other aspect of growing up.

For the oldest, there is no template.

Apparently curious about all those struggles, Redditor _mamasboy_ asked:

"Whats the WORST part about being the older sibling?"

Many older siblings discussed the dynamic many are fully aware of: different approaches to parenting depending on the child.

The fact of the matter is, parents are learning as they go.

An Iterative Process

"You are expected to be the leader and example. As a result, the younger sibling gets away with a lot more."

"You're the test model. Your parents learn how to parent by fu**ing up with you, so they learn what *not* to do."

-- driving_andflying

Lawless by the End

"You watch your parents become less and less strict with your younger siblings and you watch them do things you were never allowed to do..."

-- IfigeniaCool

A More Specific Example

"My sister and I are about 2 years apart. Overall we got along pretty well. We shared a bedroom till I was about 14 and she was 12… we had a single mom.. so she couldn't afford a place till I was on high school so we could have our own rooms."

"The one thing I absolutely hated though… my younger sister loved dolls. Me? I never wanted a doll. Not even a Barbie doll. But my sister had SO SO SO many. She's get them as gifts for years. She even got this creepy standing doll that stood in the corner of the room. It didn't have a face. She had one of those toy canopies to hold the amount of dolls she had."

"But could I get a mini disco ball and a lava lamp ? No. I had to pick just one."

-- Junebug1515

Others talked about he undue emotional weight placed on them throughout their upbringing.

The Rock

"To be strong in family crises." -- opinionthatmatters

"yes this is so annoying, iIm not only the oldest brother but the oldest cousin too....like ffs I am the role model...peak of humanity in this generation apparently, i am asked to do so much it's not funny anymore..."

"When my grandpa died in 2019 from cancer I was 14 and the oldest...everyone look at me for things. Like bruv, O was the oldest and to him probably his favorite as we had the same hobbies so I needed time to grieve, didn't get that time" -- suriname-ballv2

Growing Up Fast

"You end up like a 2nd parent if one isn't around." -- imma-trope

"I was 10 when my twin sisters were born."

"I've changed more diapers, done more late night feedings, and general childcare for them than both my parents combined."

"I love my sisters. Being 12, and your friends ask you to hangout over the weekend but you can't because you have to potty train them is an experience no one should have to deal with." -- cleaning-meaning

A Hanger-On

"You're the one forced to include your younger siblings in things, which is a social burden. And you have no one older than you to stick up for you and emulate being more mature."

"In high school I had friends that knew exactly what to expect from applying to colleges, visiting colleges, and some of them even attended college parties with their older sibling."

"Meanwhile I was applying to college on my own, paying application fees out of pocket, and I had to bring my 11 year old brother with me anytime I went to the diner, mall, or movies with my friends. They pretty much stopped inviting me at one point."

-- rawbface

Perfection is the Standard

"The worst is that I'm expected to be great. I'm expected to have my sh** together. I'm expected to be the bigger person. I'm expected to support myself. My younger brothers are not."

"That even when I have needed help, I'm still expected to have my sh** together and be perfect, have a job, pay rent, pay more rent when it's found that I have money left over, etc. But not my brothers."

-- Inner-Nothing7779

Finally, others had some more loving things to say about their younger siblings. For all the drawbacks, older siblings cannot help but feel like a protector.

Different Parents

"watching your parents grow old while your sibling is still young" -- myst123

"Yeah its scary. I hate thinking about it (god forbid) but I'm scared my sis wont spend as much time with my parents as i did." -- Scarlet_Scribbles

History Repeated

"Seeing them making the same mistakes you made" -- Formal_Function_3505

"its funny when i warn my sibling and he brushes it off calling me a wimp" -- suriname-ballv2

"Gosh, my brother… I can't even count how many cars he has bought and then immediately traded in in the last year. He's not trading up, like for something nicer, it's just sideways movement ie trading in a 2015 Ford Edge for a 2017 Chevy Cruze. The Cruze died a day after he got it."

"Save your money dude. As the kid who still lives at home I can promise you all this spending will come back to bite you. Why do you think I live at home???" -- redfern962

Just the Way it Goes

"Loving your younger siblings immensely and wanting to take care of them and give them a better childhood than you had but also dealing with the fact that taking care of them means accepting your own 'parentification' and sacrificing part of your own childhood"

-- jemdamos

People who were born the oldest had zero choice in the matter. It's just the way things turned out.

Thankfully, Reddit is here to provide a space to vent.

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