Younger siblings are burdened with higher expectations: It’s not that easy

December 4, 2018 — by Kaitlyn Tsai

When Apple released the first iPhone in 2007, its capabilities amazed people so much that they nicknamed it the “Jesus Phone.” But in recent years, each new iPhone model has been greeted less warmly as people expect more from each new model.

This same concept applies to siblings.

Although older siblings help pave the way for their younger siblings, they sometimes shape their brothers’ and sisters’ futures too much. Younger siblings are often expected to follow the older siblings’ paths while taking everything a step further, placing unfair pressure on the younger siblings.

For example, if an older sibling aced both semesters of Precalculus Honors with A’s, the younger is expected to do the same. And if they do achieve that, it is hardly a novelty; there is no praise because that is merely what is expected of them.

This pressure typically stems from three different cases, all based on the older sibling’s life.

Case one: The older sibling is extremely successful. Proud parents expect the younger to do the same — and more.

Case two: The older sibling is somewhat successful. The parents, not entirely satisfied, project the older sibling’s faults onto the younger one and push him or her to do even better.

Case three: The older sibling is not successful. The parents are disappointed, and place pressure on the younger one to strive for the best to bring honor back to the family.

These comparisons are hardly fair; parents should adapt to the path that younger siblings may want to take, even if it’s different from the first child’s.

In fact, younger siblings may often find that their lives are structured around those of their older siblings. From receiving hand-me-down clothes to being known as so-and-so’s younger brother or sister,  younger siblings often feel like their identities are heavily dependent on their older siblings’.

This repression explains why some younger siblings rebel and become the “bad children.” They want to forge their own identities, free of the constraints their older siblings wore.

Perhaps the largest downside to being a younger sibling is the stigma around it; because we are supposed to be spoiled and have things easier, people often scorn and invalidate the aforementioned problems.

Admittedly, it isn’t easy being the guinea pig, but being the next in line and expected to succeed can be even harder.

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