• Tuesday, March 05, 2024
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Firstborns in the home


Adebola thought she knew her son, Tobilola, so well. As the first child in the family, he lacked nothing. He was showered with love, care and attention before and after the birth of his younger sister, Teni. From a fun loving obedient boy, Tobilola has suddenly become an uncontrollable stubborn 15-year-old. Hence, Adebola fears this may have a negative impact on Teni.

Today, in most homes, birth order has a significant impact on children, their behaviour and their personalities. Study has shown that the three birth positions – first, middle and youngest – have a strong effect on children’s behaviour. And so, children in each position share a related characteristics.

For instance, psychologists believe firstborns are always motivated to achieve more goals in life than their younger siblings. This makes it possible for a large percentage of firstborns to end up being doctors or lawyers.

“While I was growing up,” says Tola Odumusi, “my father encouraged me to study medicine because he believed my younger brothers will take after me. Hence, he encouraged me to pursue my career with great determination, strong powers of concentration and discipline. This also affected my other siblings in the long run. Today, in our family we have lawyers, engineers and nurses.”

In most families, firstborns are born into a demanding yet cherished position. They are usually objects of enormous joy because they are the first. Hence, most parents and grandparents often over pamper them. Before the first child is born, the expectation is high, names are carefully chosen before they are born. On the day of christening, photos are taken, the entire moment is captured on film. The child is the centre of attraction because he is the first.

However, the twist to this great adoration is that firstborns are often pushed to the extreme to set the blaze for their younger ones. Hence, the expectations are high, especially for boys. However, a psychological report reveals that anecdotal evidence implies that firstborns who are boys are not great risk takers than girls or children in other birth positions.

According to the report, boys fear failure hence they are afraid to embark on difficult tasks and tough areas where they can excel.

Mike Ating, a parent, is of the opinion that firstborns are not really great influence on their other siblings and they don’t necessarily get more attention than others. “The first born seems to have more needs and they are communicative, that is why it seems they get more attention,” says Ating, a father. “However, the last born also gets more attention than any other person in the family because he is still young and the older siblings are believed to be grown.

“It also has to do with the gap between the first born and the other siblings. If the age difference is little there is a tendency that he may influence the others but if the gap is wide then the likelihood to have a strong influence on others is slim,” he says.

Yemi Oguntoyinbo, a mother, does not share Ating’s view as she strongly believes that firstborns are trailblazers for parents also than their other siblings. “The truth is, as parents we are strict with firstborns when it comes to discipline. The only issue is that with time, we tend to loosen our stance in this aspect.”

In addition, Oguntoyinbo argues that firstborns are usually very jealous on the arrival of another baby in the family due to the fact that they fear they might not get all the attention they used to get.