A Sibiling Study: Older v Younger

Older Siblings Perspective

Rachel Jacobson, Special Features Editor

“RACHEL COME HERE NOW!” is a common phrase is my household. So is, “Help me with this,” or “Fix this,” and my personal favorite: “Do this for your sister.”

My parents hold me to a higher level of responsibility than that of my younger sister, Heather. I am the kid that gets called to help with anything and everything by my parents, and when I ask why, the simple explanation is that I am the oldest even if it is by less than two years.

Anyone with a sibling will likely tell you there is a definite difference in the treatment between the younger and older children, and that difference is evident in my family.

Not only am I expected to be more responsible and be perfectly on top of everything in my own life, when something goes wrong, I am always to blame, even if the matter does not concern me.

I am expected to help my sister at any time she might need it. For example, I am expected to help her with her homework and with studying, as well as drive her to practice and other places she might need to go. I have been conditioned from a young age to believe that my own well being depends on hers.

While I don’t mind helping my sister, sometimes it’s as if my role as an older sister replaces that of a parent. My conditioning has trained me to be as on top of her business as my own, which supplements my parent’s role in her life.

When I go through something important in my life, my parents expend all their energy into helping me and ensuring that I am prepared, but when my sister goes through that same event they rely on me to help her through it and their attitudes become much more lax.

For the past two years, my parents, especially my dad, were constantly on my back about the SAT/ACT, studying, and college applications. Navigating the college process was as much my journey as it was my parents, but they have been taking a much more relaxed approach with my sister, who is one year behind me. By this time my junior year, I had completed two subject tests, one SAT exam, two trips exclusively for college touring (one all the way to the East Coast) and planned a third to the Midwest, but my sister has done none of this.

Of course, there are definitely perks to being the older sibling. The higher level of responsibility I am held to causes my parents to trust me more than my younger sister. In arguments, my parents are also more likely to agree with what I have to say than my sister, which I believe is less because of the differences in our character than it is because of the basic fact that I am older than her and therefore, in my parents’ minds, must be more reliable and reasonable.

Even through the drastically varying treatments we receive from our parents, my sister and I have managed to maintain our close bond throughout our lives. I am her confidant, and she is mine. We rely on each other through thick and thin, and at the end of the day, I can depend on my sister in the same way she depends on me. It is helpful to share your life with a sister, even if their life ends up being your responsibility.