Siblings battle for fair rights


Graphic made by Rachel Martin

Rachel Martin

Personally, I don’t mind a bit of sibling rivalry, in fact I think it’s perfectly normal. However, the fact is that it has grown to something any older sibling can easily tell you: the oldest have it tougher.

Yes it’s true, the oldest generally are supposed to be the responsible one for their younger sibling(s), but it seems that whenever the younger sibling does something bad, somehow it ends up being the older sibling’s fault. It seems completely unfair and almost unavoidable.

Studies by researchers at Duke University, Johns Hopkins University, and the University of Maryland have confirmed what firstborns have always suspected: The oldest kid in the family really does bear the burden of parental strictness, while the younger brothers and sisters generally coast on through.

“Parents have an incentive to play tough with their kids, especially the older ones. In order to try to establish this signal to the other children that they’re not a pushover,” says Joseph Hotz, an economics professor at Duke University and a co-author of the study “But it isn’t just folklore — this is a national pattern.”

“It’s all for the sake of setting an example, a situation first-borns know all too well. By punishing the oldest kid more severely,” Hotz says, “parents are hoping to essentially scare the younger brothers and sisters straight, keeping them from making a similar mistake.”

In reality, it seems that our parents are testing our abilities in a way. They aren’t being the unfair stereotypical parents you absolutely hate, but they are trying to teach us something. By being tougher on us, they hope that some of their lectures would hopefully rub off on our younger sibling(s).

Even though it does seem unfair when the oldest have to take the heat for the youngest siblings’ mistakes or plights, we as the eldest should know when to take responsibility and that, in turn, will make our little brother or sister a more mature person.