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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?

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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.

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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. :)

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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! :)

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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.

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I guess my question is, are you comparing how they treat their eldest (I'm thinking young children...elementary school, preschool, toddler, etc.) vs. how they treat their youngers at a certain stage? For example...I have an almost 4 year old DD and you bet I expect more of her and treat her differently than my 15 month old son...but I feel I am treating my 15 month old the same way I did my DD at the same age and will likely do the same as they grow. I guess I don't see what's wrong with expecting more of a 7 year old than a 5 year old as a PP mentioned. If you treat them exactly the same, you either stunt the older one and not allow them to gain more responsibility and grow up, or push the younger to grow too much. Now, as they mature into middle school and high school and beyond, there should be less of a difference in parenting practices, and they'd be more emotionally and physically matched in their capabilities.
I guess also, as a firstborn, you watch your younger sibs get treated, well...like younger kids...getting away with things, etc. Is there a possiblity that, at the same age, you got away with the same things and don't have anything to compare it to? (Not trying to disagree with any comments there...just playing a bit of devil's advocate) I am a younger sib to one older brother, and I REALLY don't feel like either of us got any special treatment one way or the other. We were parented in different ways at times because we were and are completely different people and personalities, but one wasn't better than another.
This is very interesting!

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Hi, J.
Birth order is usually consistent with how a child is treated. Also it depends on the parents if the first born is male or female. There are many different philosophies about birth ordered children.

The interesting point is where were you in your family's birth order? How do you accept your role in your family. Look into the birth order characteristics and see if you can identify those in families. It is alot of fun.
You are very perceptive. Keep up the good work.
D.

2 moms found this helpful

I can definitely see things I did differently with the second. The oldest was always held to eat, never had a bottle propped, and had my complete attention. The second often held her own bottle, had to wait for my attention, and often had to wait and be patient. This is not because I love her any less than her brother, it is just because they were at different places and different stages.
They are different children. I love them each more than I can say, but my bond and my relationship is different with each child. A wise woman once told me that you cannot love them both the same. She is right. They are very different people.
LBC

2 moms found this helpful

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

In my case my kids where treat different for the same reason that Lynn M.
However I think I know what you mean, is not so much about a mom treating kids different, which is very normal to happen since every kid is different and the situations are different too; But I think you are talking about is in some case moms admire or have an extra bound/conection (for example) more one kid. My aunt loves her 3 kids, but she shows complete devotion for the oldest one and it is that obvious. Why, I don't know, but he also have grow and have an adoration for her more then the other 2 have.

1 mom found this helpful

eh- I was the first child. Not demanding, self-starter, approval seeker, and straight arrow. My parents were MORE strict with me and didn't need to be. They were TOO loose with my sister who is 3.5 years behind me that should have had more structure and more rules -- they realized their mistakes too late ... she has her life together now at almost 30 but it took longer to find her "path" and she drank at 14, etc. etc.

My husband's family is the opposite -- 5 kids, eldest is treated with kid gloves, babied, and his life at 45 is in a shambles....money troubles, job troubles, custody troubles....he was always the "golden child" and babied, helped out, etc. He was the only BOY for 11 years as well (my husband is 11 years his junior). The other kids all have their stuff together, are good with money, etc. It is sad that they treated him so differently and continue to....

1 mom found this helpful

Birth order and your personal family dynamics play a big role in how you parent your children. People automatically assume because we have a 17 y/o that she must be a “big help” and “built in babysitter” for our 2 y/o & 1 y/o . In fact my husband and I disagree about how much responsibility our oldest should have when it comes to helping out with the house/ younger children. My thought process is this-she is not a 3rd parent and should be able to be a teenager although she does have responsibilities.
Now with my younger two I notice that I treat my youngest different for various reasons but mainly he is easier. My middle child, well let’s just say she has been a pistol since birth, thus we have to be stern.
Look up birth order, you’ll be surprised at the results

1 mom found this helpful

Interesting Q!
I have an only, so I don't have experience with that personally.
I am the youngest of three and I know my parents were a lot more laid back with me when I was younger.
My mom still looks to my oldest brother for level-headed solutions, etc.

I would hope that parents treat all of their kids differently based on what *that* child needs and wants. And seriously, that's what I see with my friends and their kids. I often see that when there is an older son, the 2nd daughter gets the "princess" treatment. Lots of my son's buddies have younger sisters.
So IME, I have not seen favoritism for the first born. How sad if that's true!

1 mom found this helpful

Treating the oldest differently can come from several different angles
1) parents being inexperienced
2) kids are different , they can handle different things.

And what kind of different are you talking about,
do you mean favoring the oldest? cause that rarely happens , unless the oldest is a boy. Some families are easier on and favor the oldest boy, I've seen this MANY times it comes from the old the boy carries on the family name, he's the "heir" mentality. As modern as we are , we still carry these mentalities whether it's subconscious or not.

Also there is a thing called birth order your birth order does have something to do with your personality.
http://birthorderandpersonality.com/

1 mom found this helpful

I'm the first child and my parents have always referred to me as their "experimental child" b/c they were young parents and tried everything out on me! Their expectations of me were always very high b/c they had no one to compare me to and I was the "guinea pig" for all of their parental rules and regulations.

My sisters... they were much more relaxed with them in most areas, including (to their detriment) not making them do things for themselves! I was not a demanding child (but my youngest sister is), but they had no one else to focus on for three years!

1 mom found this helpful

Where I notice it the most is with mothers and daughters. I see my friends giving very speical consideration to their first born girls. Often at the expense of their boys. I am stunned at the sentiment of many mothers that the man should raise the son so they do not have to attend scout meetings/outings or whatever with their little boys. And also the feeling that what the older girl wants she gets and the little boys get the leftovers of her energy/time/commitment and yes, maybe heart.

For me-I think it is the nature of the child more than the birth order. I am just naturally more concerned for my first born as he has a reserved personality and is happy to be a loner. He is also very sensitive and sweet. Socially I am more intuned to whats going on with him because I do worry more for him in this aspect. My younger son is very outgoing and I just instinctively know that he is going to be OK. So what will happen is that I will initiate something for my older son with friends more-knowing that my younger son does just fine with the older's friends and enjoys himself almost just as much.

1 mom found this helpful

I have a 5 y/o daughter... I was a single Mom with her for 3 years before meeting a great man that we moved into a house with whom I eventually married last November. I'm now pregnant with #2 and I have no doubt I will always share a special bond with my First Daughter than I will with any other children I have. Doesn't mean I would love them any less... it will just be a different experience.

I would never allow anyone else nor myself to love and discipline them any differently - but I'm sure there are always a little bit of a difference with children, also due to individual temperament and behavior.

1 mom found this helpful

My niece was forced to raise her sister from age 3 on. Now her oldest is in charge of the younger sisters. She has the same angry, sad, overwhelmed look her mom always had. They are also much harder on her.

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Yes, this is true, and in my own case, the bond is weaker because it's the first child. My hubby and I are both the oldest. We were both treated more as babysitters and maids than we were children once we got to a certain age. Here at our own home, I worked 60-70 hr weeks while our oldest was very little up until she was almost 3. Then her twin sisters came along and demanded alot from everyone. It's not intentional, it's just a horrible fact of life.

1 mom found this helpful

I do expect more out of my older child, she is strong willed, serious, independent, a comedian. My son is full of energy, laid back, and independent, just a kind of go with kid (who will not do anything he doesn't want to though). Do I treat them different? I would say yes, but mostly because they are different people.

I don't think it's your imagination at all. I do think it happens...I know I treat them different but it's not due to any favoritism (and I can remember thinking my mom had a favorite) but I think it does have a lot do with they are different people and some of that has to do with birth order.

1 mom found this helpful

I treat my two daughters completely different, and I feel very guilty about this sometimes. I have a two year old and a one year old and when my oldest daughter was the same age as my youngest is now I would spend more time reading with her and playing with her. I would also make sure we went on "play dates" with other children her age. The reason I treat them different isn't because I mean to, it is because now I don't have as much time. I can't read alone to my daughter every night because my toddler wants to read with us for example and it is hard sometimes to take them both places. To wrap it up, I have not been able to spend as much mommy and me time with my one year old as I was able to spend with my two year old because 2 kids simply take more time than 1.

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