Sibling Dynamics – Where do you fit in?

sibling dynamics and birth order

Ingrid Nelson, a YouTuber, recently made a video in her Five Minutes For You segment about what it was like to be an only child. It got me thinking about sibling dynamics and where I sit in my family – how this as affected my personality and shaped me as a person.

There seems to be a lot of stereotypes around where you sit in your family. The eldest child being bossy and independent, the middle child being introverted and often over looked, the youngest child being spoilt rotten.

I’m the youngest amongst 4. I’m also the only girl and the age gap between my brothers and I is quite a lot. There’s 9 years between me and the the youngest boy, and almost 20 years between my eldest brother.

sibling dynamics and birth order

Growing up, I don’t have a lot of memories of living at home with my brothers. They started families young and moved out. By the time I was 7 or 8, they had all left home.

Because of the age gap and being alone from a young age, I always felt more of an only child than one of four. I often wonder what it’s like to have brothers or sisters and are in your age range, because I always felt like they were adults and I was just a dumb kid!

I also haven’t seen one of my brothers in over 10 years, which is why he’s not in the photo, ha. He moved to Australia with his family when I was at university.

sibling dynamics and birth order Pro’s of my sibling dynamics.

  • I felt okay being on my own. 

I spent a lot of time on my own as a child, either playing in my room with my Barbies, or watching TV. I was able to entertain myself and didn’t rely much on others.

I also think it gave me the need for independence that I have now.

  • It sparked creativity. 

Being on my own a lot, I’d often have to make my own entertainment, which would be things like making up stories with my barbies, reading books and more.

I spent a lot of time writing stories, writing comic books and I even designed my own video game once!

Without having someone else there to keep my mind busy, I had to do it myself.

  • Maturity.

I’m not sure if maturity is the right word here, but I found that I always gravitated towards people older than me. At school, at university, at home. My cousins were all a similar age to my brothers – older than me, and I felt like that made me able to connect to people older than me more than people my age. Though now I’m much older, this isn’t the case and I have friends of many different ages!

sibling dynamics and birth order Cons of my sibling dynamics. 

  • I’m afraid of conflict.

I often say I have no balls, and it’s true. I’ll do anything to avoid conflict and I am scared to stand my ground, I will only do so if I’m 100% sure I’m 100% right and I’ve been so wound up about it I’m about to explode everywhere!

I think this is because I never had much conflict as a child, I didn’t have to deal with arguing with siblings over toys – I was just called random names by my older brothers!

  • I’m stuck in my head

I laugh a lot that I’m in my own little world, and that’s true. I get stuck in my head a lot and I guess that’s a product of being alone a lot when I was younger.

I often fail to see whats going on around me because I’m constantly day dreaming or thinking about other things! I’m likely to sit on my own in the canteen at work, not because I dislike people, but just because I’m quite content, and often enjoy, the escapism that is my mind!

  • Feeling socially isolated.

I think because I didn’t spend a lot of time around children, also topped of with spending most of my teen years being locked up in my room writing in my LiveJournal, I lack a lot of social skills that can make things awkward.

I’m terrible at small talk and I feel like the most boring, awkward person in front of new people! I struggle to find that spark with new people and until we have reached some kind of mutual interest to be used as an ice-breaker, I just can’t be myself or express myself until then.

Am I alone in feeling like this?

I was curious to see whether other people felt the same as me, so I tweeted out to bloggers asking them how they felt about their sibling dynamics, and here are the responses:

sibling dynamics dorkface

Jemma from Dorkface.

For me, I’m the youngest child of three older siblings, and I’m the only girl. Personally I think this had a huge affect on my personality and growth. I was quite a tomboy growing up, I loved climbing trees, getting dirty, I fought with my brothers everyday and I think it probably made me a little tougher. Nobody is as cruel as three older brothers! The very oldest had such an age gap to me though that even though he would tease and wind me up, I never really lived with him for long. I was a really small kid when he first moved out of our home, and I always seen him as ‘an adult’. This didn’t affect the ‘closeness’ of our relationship, in fact it just meant we didnt annoy each other. Whereas the sibling closest to my age? Oh my god we always argued, and still do! I feel like the dynamic was more volatile the closer our age. Sometimes I felt a little like the ‘outsider’ of the kids, being the youngest and the only girl. But mostly I just acted like a boy anyway, or felt special because of it! 🙂

sibling dynamics and birth order india benjamin

India from Touch Screens and Beauty Queens.

I’m the middle child in my actual siblings (older brother, younger sister), and the second youngest if you include my step brother and sister. My, my sister and step sister are a close trio though and I’m the middle of those too so basically the middliest middle you can get.

When I was younger, there seemed to be unlimited cons of being the middle child. I’d get into trouble for everything everyone else did, and seemed to have different rules than everyone else! I quite like it now though; I get to play the younger sibling card when I want to get out of responsibilities, and play on the fact that I’m not the baby of the family when I want priorities.

I think you have to be quite robust and cunning as the middle child. I can be quite cheeky and demanding, and I think that’s where my brother and sister would get priority as the oldest or the baby; I had to make myself loud to be heard! I wouldn’t say it’s defined my personality that much, me and my sister are quite similar in terms of personality (although she probably got that from me as we’re really close!). All of our personalities compliment each other very well, although we bicker loads, so my family definitely had a huge part in my personality.

sibling dynamics salcoa

Sarah from Saloca in Wonderland.

As the oldest, I always felt like the experimental kid. Everything I was told no to, my baby brother would be told yes to an it wound me up to no end. I was always expected to be the responsible one, to look after him, and mother him like a second mum. When I was younger, that was great, we all want to play grown-ups, but as a I grew up? Not so much fun! Everything was my fault, I should have known better etc. I felt this pressure to be perfect, to always get it right, to set a good example and lead the way. When he wouldn’t follow or did things differently I would get so frustrated!  In a way, I still feel that pressure now. I’m always the first to do everything; uni, moving out, hitting 30. Those kinds of milestones will always be mine first and however I deal with them, I want to set a good example to him. If I get it wrong, I want him to learn  from my mistakes. If I get it right, then I’m showing him how it can be done. More often than not, if I go left, he will go right, and maybe that’s something that only being the youngest can understand. There I am trying to lead the way and there he is running in the opposite direction! But that’s siblings for you!

sibling dynamics and birth order rubi

Rubi from When Your Life Gives You Rubi:

I’m am the youngest of two in my family, with my sister being 7 years older than I am. Being the youngest definitely had it’s pros growing up, especially when I was much younger. With my parents trying to deal with raising a teenager, I was able to blend into the background much more easily. And since I grew up watching my sister get grounded and get in trouble for things, I knew what not to do and how to avoid getting caught! Being the youngest with a pretty large age gap really molded my entirely personality. Growing up I wanted to be just like my sister, which is probably why I watch all the same tv as her and had the same goals as her growing up. Having her come before me gave me not only a role model, but someone’s mistakes to learn from.

sibling dynamics and birth order

Cat from kittykittylala

I’m the youngest of five, and the only girl. Yes, I have four older brothers. But I am the baby girl! This worked in my favor when my parents got divorced because my dad had a real soft spot for his baby girl.

Pros:

*My parents were much more lenient and easy-going on me. I’ve never been grounded and I’ve done some pretty stupid things, stuff my brothers never did. That being said…
*I got away with a lot being the only girl and the youngest. I’m not sure if it’s because my parents are over it and just like “whatever
*There is so much love, support, and great advice. I can always count on my brothers to give me unbiased opinions and have my back whenever I need it.
*I also grew up tough having older brothers. I have thick skin from my brothers picking on me and am physically tough because they pushed me around constantly (down the stairs and shooting rubber bands at me).

Cons:

*Because there were five of us and I was the youngest, I didn’t get to spend as much time bonding with my oldest two brothers. They were already living out of the house by the time I turned 5. I saw them on holidays and other special occasions, but most of my childhood was spent with only two brothers.
*I felt ostracized because I was younger than them and they would gang up and pick on me.
*As we got older, I felt even more left out because they went off and partied and I was still too young.
*I also felt ostracized because I was the only girl. They were able to bond about guy stuff (girls, partying, etc.) that’s awkward or just wrong to talk about with your little sister.
*I had a lot of pressure on me and expectations being the youngest. My parents pushed me to be as successful or more so than my brothers (one had almost perfect scores on his SAT’s, all have degrees in electrical engineering from great colleges, one has a graduate degree and another graduated top of his class from medical school).
*When my parents divorced and I lived primarily with my dad and brothers, I had no females for fashion or beauty advice. My dad even tried to have the period talk with me and you have no idea how awkward that was…

*My dad also tried to give me hand me down clothes…. from guys who were 6’0”+ so that sucked.

I think being the only girl has definitely made me a tomboy, if that’s a personality trait. I love camping, being outside, and getting good and dirty. I do love fashion and getting dressed up, but I’m much more comfortable in leggings and a hoodie. We grew up playing a lot of games and competing against one another (I usually lost) but it made me an athletic and competitive adult. Being the only girl with FOUR brothers has also made me “one of the guys”. I’m very comfortable talking to guys and joking around with them, I just get along with guys because I’ve grown up with them and lived with them my whole life. A lot of girls don’t like that about me which sucks because I need more girl friends. Having older siblings made me have thick skin but it also made me more sensitive because I often felt excluded. I think that being picked on made me more outgoing and be quick on my toes, especially with retorts.

Where do you fit within your family?
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30 Comments

  1. December 6, 2015 / 12:02 pm

    I only have a brother who’s only 18 months older than me. At first I believe he wasn’t really happy to have me around, which is understandable but then later on he made me play with him, so I was like a tomboy. He wouldn’t like me playing with my barbies but playing war games and football with him. So I got more guy friends than girl friends, since then it always carried on like that. I wish it was the other way around tho. Since I was the youngest, I was the one who got blamed for the stuff he did(he was really good at manipulating) and as we grow older, we started to have many arguments and we still do from time to time even tho we live separately. Also about the studies, he was shown as the role model so I always had the pressure to be better than him, which was really hard for a young teenager. So it has goods and bads, however I am happy to have a brother which I can rely on when I go through a bad time.

    http://www.elabellaworld.com
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    • Corinne
      December 7, 2015 / 2:40 pm

      It must have been hard to have that pressure! My brothers didn’t continue with education so I never had that. I was the only one that went to university!

  2. December 6, 2015 / 12:40 pm

    I was fascinating to read the post. I don’t have any siblings or cousins, so as an only child my life looks like it was easier. I had friends to play with. My parents divorced when I was 5, so my mother took me with her and this made feel comfortable around adults. I use to annoy my school classmates because I was calling their parents by their name when we were out. That made me more confident too. Due to how I was raised, I feel great on my own or in society (sometime I’m shy, but it depends on the situation).
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    • Corinne
      December 7, 2015 / 2:38 pm

      It’s good that it gave you confidence! It must have been confusing when your parents split.

  3. Jackie Harrison
    December 6, 2015 / 12:45 pm

    Great post I’m the baby only few years apart from my brother he always been there for me and still is, The same for my oldest sibling even though I was not able to interact with their activities due to age difference they were there for me and never make me feel left out.

    • Corinne
      December 7, 2015 / 2:36 pm

      That’s really sweet! My brothers just picked on me so much!

  4. December 6, 2015 / 4:45 pm

    Great post and insight into sibling dynamics. I grew up around mostly girls with 3 sisters and my mum, which must be a different experience entirely to yours.

    crossinglemons.com

    • Corinne
      December 7, 2015 / 2:35 pm

      Oh yeah that really is! Girl power hah

  5. December 6, 2015 / 8:38 pm

    Love this post! I think it’s so interesting to see all the different dynamics and how our positions in the family really do shape and change who we are. My dad was the oldest and my Mum was the baby of her family and the difference in their experiences is astronomical! I find it all fascinating!

    I might complain about being the eldest sometimes but in actual fact I love it and wouldn’t want there to be anyone above me, I kind of like the responsibility and sometimes the power that comes with it 😀 I can still tell my brother off for doing something stupid!

    Sarah 🙂
    Saloca in Wonderland
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    • Corinne
      December 7, 2015 / 2:32 pm

      Haha! My sister in law always gets mad when their eldest tells the youngest off!

  6. December 6, 2015 / 10:41 pm

    I always wanted an older brother or two because I thought it would make me more tomboyish and they’d push me to do more, but instead I got the opposite. I have a younger sister and I feel exactly the same as Salaca, the experimental kid. She’s only two years younger than me so we did spend all of our childhood playing games together, drawing, throwing tea parties, and I should be grateful but I guess it’s in our human nature to think the grass is greener on the other side. Thank you for sharing this post! It’s interesting seeing how other people feel about their different sibling dynamics.

    -M
    The Life of Little Me
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    • Corinne
      December 7, 2015 / 2:32 pm

      I think the grass does always seem greener!

  7. December 6, 2015 / 11:54 pm

    I have two older brothers, one is a half brother that’s about 14 years older than me that I don’t really talk to. My other brother is just 4 years older than me, however I feel like he is the youngest considering how he acts sometimes. I am definitely not afraid of conflict considering I grew up with some much of it, I’ll conflict anywhere at any time with anybody (it’s actually not a great trait to have). I’ve always wondered how it would be without any siblings, not sure if I would like it better or not.

    • Corinne
      December 7, 2015 / 2:30 pm

      Oh weird that you’ll conflict anywhere! I guess it’s not a bad thing if you can pick the right time and day!

  8. December 7, 2015 / 12:01 am

    This was really interesting to read! I am the middle child although I’ve never lived with my big sister as my dad and her mum split up before I came along. My little sister is legit my best friend but it makes me kinda sad that we’re not as close with my big sister. It’s not through choice, it’s just because me and my little sister lived together and got through our parents separation together and such, and my big sister has a little sister of her own who she’s closer with cause they lived together.

    Since we didn’t all live together I feel like I have more of the traits that the oldest sibling would have – being protective of my little sister and such. Man you really have me thinking with this post haha! Good work x
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    • Corinne
      December 7, 2015 / 2:29 pm

      Haha! Glad to get you thinking! It’s weird how dynamics work! Hopefully you can get closer to your older sister as your both get older!

  9. December 7, 2015 / 4:08 am

    I’ve always wondered what it would be like to have siblings since I’m an only child. My friends with them always tell me there are pros and cons.
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    • Corinne
      December 7, 2015 / 2:28 pm

      There really are! Did you ever wish for a sibling?

  10. December 7, 2015 / 11:58 am

    I think I was in my own world when you wanted people to contribute, else I would have got involved! I have a really close relationship with my brother, many because we share the same birthday despite a two year age gap. If parents want their kids to get on and learn to share quick, the same birthday is going to do that! We are both different enough that we don’t feel in competition – Sam would never want to blog and I would never want to play rugby for example. However we both have similar personalities, work together in the holidays and our two year age gap means we also have lots of mutual friends too. I’m really lucky to have such a postive sibling relationship.
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    • Corinne
      December 7, 2015 / 2:27 pm

      Aw that’s really good. I wish I had a closer relationship with my brothers but we all lead totally different lives!

  11. December 7, 2015 / 4:22 pm

    I’m the eldest of three and the only girl too and was brought up by very strict parenting. I was expected to know everything, do everything perfectly with very little guidance, it didn’t help that my mum was a hothead and my dad was rarely around. It was tough when I was still staying home but once I moved out, I realized that I was more than fine on my own because of my upbringing and it was only then I grew closer to my brothers. It didn’t help that the age gap between me and my brothers are 6 and 12 years which was another reason why we got along better when we are adults. It’s really interesting to read others experience and Im surprised at how many of us are the only girl in the family, like how cool is that?! LOL!
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    • Corinne
      December 14, 2015 / 12:20 am

      Haha, maybe that is why we blog TO SEEK MORE SISTERHOOD?

  12. December 7, 2015 / 9:11 pm

    It’s so interesting to see how all the oldest siblings relate to their place in the family. I study psychology so we learn a lot about how sibling order plays a part in personality, and I just kept nodding my head while reading everyone’s experiences and how they’ve been shaped by them
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  13. December 7, 2015 / 11:43 pm

    This is such an interesting post! I loved reading other bloggers perspectives too.

    I have one older brother who is three years older than me and I feel really lucky. It’s like having a best friend who no matter what, you’ll always have. My parents are a lot older than my friends parents (40-45 years older than me) and so I always felt like I needed someone there of the same age as me. My grandparents all died when I was young or before I was born and my cousins are in their 50’s with kids who have kids of their own so there was a lot of chance of being on my own if it weren’t for my brother. I always felt lucky to have my brother who was going through the same things as me at the same time e.g. school and Uni but was also going through the same ‘generational-trends’ (a term that makes sense to me but I’ve totally just made it up).

    What amazes us both about one another is how different we are in terms of personality. He’s really shy and I’m outgoing but he’s got strong opinions and I’m quite passive…I guess this is why we get on so well really.

    Nevertheless though, my brother will always say I get treated differently as I’m the baby and I’ll say the same about him being the eldest 😛

    Victoria xx thedaisyjaynes.com
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    • Corinne
      December 14, 2015 / 12:21 am

      I feel a lot like you – my cousins feel more like aunts and uncles because of their age and my parents are 40 years older than me!

  14. December 13, 2015 / 12:43 pm

    Great post family dynamics is a interesting one. I am a middle child and I so fit the stereotype. The first child certainly gets lots of investment and those that follow get a more relaxed deal. Lucy x
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    • Corinne
      December 14, 2015 / 8:11 pm

      Maybe the more relaxed deal is he better one though!

  15. December 13, 2015 / 7:40 pm

    This was really interesting! I have one younger (one step sister and one step brother who I don’t really talk to.) I grew up with my one brother. I’m older than him by a year, but we’re both very different people. When we were younger we were the best of friends, but growing up we separated. I stayed in high school until the end, went off to college, got many qualifications and hope to go to uni, whereas my brother dropped out of school with no official qualifications, got stuck in the ‘wrong crowd’ but is now happier working in a really great job. I don’t feel like there was much difference between us, because personality wise were always different; him being loud and me being quiet. The biggest difference was probably my brother knowing about our parents’ separation before I did, because I was thought to be sensitive. Idk, I’ve rambled enough, but I did really enjoy this post 🙂 ~Gail (www.sherbet-aurora.co.uk)
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    • Corinne
      December 14, 2015 / 12:23 am

      Oh you should keep on rambling if you want to! I love reading about other peoples stories! It’s sad to hear you grew apart from your brother

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