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.
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.
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.
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!
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:
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! 🙂
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.
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!
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.
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.
*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).
*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.