24 answers

Treating the First Child Different than Other Siblings

Have you ever noticed mom's that treat their *first child different than the rest of the kids? What is that? Is it my imagination? I see it a lot & I suspect it happened in my family growing up too.

Anyone know what I'm talking about? Do you think this is just the parent responding to a more demanding child? Or is there a stronger bond bc its the first child?

I'm not trying to be judgmental, I'm just wondering about this.

What can I do next?

Featured Answers

I think it has something to do with the first being the learning child or the overprotective parent syndrome... by the second, third, etc, parents are more confident in their abilities, and therefore more relaxed with the others. Doesn't mean the love them any more or less... There are several books on birth order, and it seems there is something to it.

2 moms found this helpful

I only have one daughter so no different treatment here. I grew up with one sister (five years younger) and I was expected to be the responsible one: work at an early age, get perfect grades, buy a car. No problems with this for me but my sister was given a complete different set of expectations with regard to school and work (very low expectations, no rules). It worked out well for me though.

2 moms found this helpful

More Answers

Absolutely! I treat all of my children differently! It's natural, as the family dynamics change, so does the way I "treat" each child, it's virtually impossible not to.
For example: My oldest had a lock on the inside of her bedroom door until she was about 3 1/2 years old. Reasons were to keep her safe, I would know where she was when I would shower and sleep. My middle child, had one on his door until he was about 3 as well for the same reasons. Now my youngest child never had a lock on the inside of her door because I had an older daughter and son who could open the door, and who could come get me out of the shower if there was a problem. I didn't feel the need to keep my youngest contained in her childproofed room the way I felt that need for the older two because the dynamics of the family had changed.
Also, the oldest one is the first and therefore the one who you try things out on. For instance rules, chores, bedtimes. You find out what works for the older one and then try to enforce that onto the next child, but it may require some tweeking due to the specific childs needs. By the time you get to the third child its all changed around because you've figured out how to best work the situation.
I don't even know how it possible to "treat" each child the same? They are all so different. Their personalities, temperaments, etc are all so different.
All that to say, I parent them all the same. They all have the same expectations of obedience, respect, behavior and are all punished alike as well. They are also showed love differently. I express love to my daughter differently then I do to my son because my son wants love to be expressed differently. He wants me to show love by playing games, sword fighting with him and wrestling, but my daughter wants to be hugged and cuddled and to be read to, my youngest wants to be showed love by cooking with me and other activities. But to treat them all the same, I just don't see how that's possible. Maybe I'm not getting your question or maybe you're referring to something else that I'm missing.

7 moms found this helpful

I treat all my kids differently because they are all different. My 8.5yr old (my oldest) has mild Aspergers, so he thrives on routine and having set rules, set times, knowing what is happening when. He was also an only child for 3.5yrs so he plays the grownup part more than we'd like. He's just now starting to loosen up and just hang out with his friends instead of trying to be the boss. :) He's a big helper but I never expect him to be a parent or a caretaker of his siblings. He has his own set chores and thats what he takes care of.

My 5.5yr old (middle child) is my wild man. He's always on the go, we joke that he only hits the ground every third step because he moves so fast. He's also my lover, needs lots of affection and attention. He is independent but was also the baby for 5yrs. He's funny and entertaining. He also has his own set of chores that he takes care of. No more or less than my 8yr old.

Our almost 4yr old daughter has been home from Ukraine for 5 months. She has Cerebral Palsy so there are many things she cannot do yet. She doesn't have many chores other than clearing her dishes, keeping her room picked up and making sure her things are put away. As she gets more independent in walking, talking, and being in a family she will have more chores as well. However right now she is much like a new baby that needs nurturing. She needs to be taught how to be in a family, and she is the baby. But thats what she needs right now.

So you see, each of my kids gets treated differently depending on their own individual needs. If I coddled my 8yr old like my 5yr old he'd push away and think I was crazy. If I expected the strict structure out of my 5yr old that my 8yr old requires, he'd break down. Since each kid is different, they get different. :)

6 moms found this helpful

i expect more from my oldest child also because she is older. i tend to react to situations for both of my kids like they are older than what they are and have to remind myself that they are still the ages that they are. an older child has more responsibilities because they are older. but it's like working in a setting with children. the older they are the more you can give them to do and you expect them to be more mature, etc. i don't think that there's a more special bond with the first. my mom tends to favor the 2nd child because she had it rough with my dad and my mom stepped in kinda shielded her. my in-laws have a closer bond with their second grandchild because they helped raise her when she was younger. they offer to watch her all the time and get her all summer and all breaks but they only watch my kids once a yr (for taxes) for an hour. and we have to give them PLENTY of notice. a lot of it has to do with personality of the child also. i see a lot of parents treating their youngest different too.

3 moms found this helpful

Depends on what you mean by "different". Keep in mind that the first-born child is getting the parents that probably have zero experience raising a baby, and has their full attention, while the kids that come are getting more experienced parents whose attention now must be divided. Also, every child is different, even those raised by the same parents in the same household and parents sometimes have to adjust how they handle them.

I do know that I was the first born, my brother was born 4 years later. My parents tended to be much more conservative and a tad overprotective with me than they were with him. They wouldn't allow me to get an after-school job until I had turned 17 and was a senior in high school (I wanted something sooner than that), because they didn't think I could manage that plus keep my grades up, while with my brother, my mom was practically driving him to various places to pick up applications and making him fill them out when he was 15. I got my driver's license on my 16th b-day but I still wasn't allowed to drive alone until 9 months later - and then it was only because I had to be at a meeting at school and there wasn't any other way for me to get there. I didn't have my own car until I was 22. My brother was allowed to drive alone the day he got his license and had his own car to drive all through high school. I wonder if my parents were just paranoid about "what could happen" with me, and then by the time it was my brother's turn, they had learned to loosen up a bit. But I also wonder if the difference was that I was a girl, and he was a boy.

3 moms found this helpful

I am always trying to make sure I don't do that, and it is hard. My first is the "big brother" so if anything I think I might be harder on him, but I don't want to do that to him, he is still a little boy!! He LOVES it when I have to get on his brother for something, he giggles and giggles, he is only 3.5 ;) I make him stop laughing but I am happy that he realizes that he is not the only one who gets in trouble for stuff. I try to make sure I give him tons of love and cuddles and let both of my kids know they are very important to me. As far as favoritism toward the oldest, I haven't really seen that. But I do know that my husband is the oldest of 5 and the only boy and his sisters all think he got/gets treated much better, he says they had the free ride and that his parents were so much harder on him, so who knows???? Maybe it is just in our nature as kids to think we had it the hardest. I was the baby and my sis was disabled so I never experienced it bc no matter what treatment she got, I was the one who could walk and talk, and I just adored her to pieces my whole life. I don't think I really helped at all.....LOL ;)

3 moms found this helpful

I only have one daughter so no different treatment here. I grew up with one sister (five years younger) and I was expected to be the responsible one: work at an early age, get perfect grades, buy a car. No problems with this for me but my sister was given a complete different set of expectations with regard to school and work (very low expectations, no rules). It worked out well for me though.

2 moms found this helpful

Yes I can see where this has happened. I am glad that each of my kids are 2 years a part. The only expectation I have with her over my other two is to be a little more independent i.e. dress herself and various things that 5 year olds are capable of. I do not however, expect her to be her siblings parent! :)

2 moms found this helpful

I think you may be right, but then too it could be said that they are treating the younger ones different then the first. I don't think it is as simple as that in most cases. There is a lot that comes into play.

I was 19 when my son was born so although I was young, I also had more energy than I do now (my daughter is now 4). As a younger mom, I was inexperienced and his father and I split when he was about a year old so I ended up being a single mom. It was just me and him and were grew to be very close. I have never been a perfect mom but I did everything with the best intentions (just as I do now). I was 34 when my daughter was born and had remarried 8.5 years before. I life was more settled then (personally and professionally) and I was older and therefore very different. In addition to the changes in the mom, you have to also consider the differences in the children and times/issues that are present. All of it together has a huge impact on how you treat/raise your children so they all may not be treated exactly the same. Then you add the dynamics of the whole family and perceptions and it you know it would be impossible to treat them the same.

2 moms found this helpful

1 / 3
Required Fields

Our records show that we already have a Mamapedia or Mamasource account created for you under the email address you entered.

Please enter your Mamapedia or Mamasource password to continue signing in.

Required Fields

, you’re almost done...

Since this is the first time you are logging in to Mamapedia with Facebook Connect, please provide the following information so you can participate in the Mamapedia community.

As a member, you’ll receive optional email newsletters and community updates sent to you from Mamapedia, and your email address will never be shared with third parties.

By clicking "Continue to Mamapedia", I agree to the Mamapedia Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy.