15 Things On What it's Like To Be The Oldest In a Big Family

It's seems to be that many people are pretty clueless when it comes to what my life is like. There are all sorts of comments and assumptions made that clearly indicate how much people have no idea what it's like to be the oldest of a big family.
In their defense, it is rather an oddity, having this many younger siblings. With my ninth little sibling due in April, there are very few families that I even know of bigger than my own. And only one of those families do I even know well enough to know all their names. We're few and far between.
The lives of the firstborns (or even the second and third borns) in these families are shrouded in mystery. Not because we're trying to hide anything, but because we have very unique and rare positions.

So, here it is, from my point of view.


1. People ask you what it's like to be the oldest. The answer to that one is tricky - quite likely, we don't remember what it's like NOT being the oldest, because our first sibling came along when we were still little bitty ourselves.

2. You taught the babysitter how to change diapers, because at 7, you had more experience in that area than they did.

3. Everyone makes a big deal about what a huge help you must be to your parents, etc. etc.. Yes, thank you. But please, keep in mind that there is no "safe" answer to this except to smile nice and not say anything. If you try to brush it off, you may come across as too modest. But if you agree, then you risk coming across as prideful.
Also, the older you are, the more awkward this situation is.

4. Sometimes, you spot a new mom or dad, and cringe inside, while praying that when you have your first kid, it's not so glaringly obvious that you're new to this whole parenting thing.

5. People like to make comments about how all your younger siblings are looking up to you - thereby indicating that you should be the best example possible. The pressure is real.

6. People ask you for parenting advice, even though you don't have kids. Yes, this has happened. More than once.

7. Other large-ish families actually trust you to watch all their kids at once, because they know you have experience with crowds.

8. Your younger siblings get away with WAY more than you would've ever dreamed of attempting. And in some ways, that's probably a good thing, though at times it can be frustrating.

9. You quite possibly alternate between two different extremes - the first being that birth control must be the greatest invention ever; and the second being that big families are the greatest thing in the world, and you want a dozen or so kids yourself.

10. Any friends you have that also have a whole slew of younger siblings, are like gold, because they "get" your life in a way that other people really never can.

11. You are the example to which your younger siblings are held. Always. They're 9, and whining about their chores? You could likely do all those at 6, so what's their complaint?

12. Helping siblings with school is just a part of life. "Uh, could I get the teachers' discount, please?"

13. While you still live at home, people think that your house must be spotlessly cleaned and organized, because, after all, your mom has YOU to help her.
Actually, contrary to what I sometimes think might be popular belief, I'm not a live in servant, and my parents certainly do not expect me to act like one. I do have a life beyond cooking and cleaning.

14. The awkward moment when someone mistakes you for being your sibling's parent... "Uh, I was 5 when he was born..." Yeah. True story.
I also once had someone try to convince me that a couple of my sisters HAD to be my children, because they looked just like me.
I was 12, and my mom was standing right there.

15. Your siblings always want you to talk you parents into allowing things, because you have a better success rate convincing said parents of giving your way. Whether it's due to your firstborn charms, or simply the fact that you have a couple more years of experience in that area, no one knows.

So, there it is. Hopefully this helps clear some of the common misconceptions about our kind. Or, if nothing else, provides a few minutes of entertainment.

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