As the first born child, I have some advice on how to parent me. You see, some of the things you do make my life more challenging, while others help me become a better person. Let me explain.
Need to Achieve. You pay close attention to everything that happens. I know you’re proud of everything I do and frightened by every potential injury at the same time. My need for high achievement tends to make me tense, more serious, more reserved, and less playful. You see me as a reflection of yourselves, so you push me to excel. I need you to put less pressure on me to succeed. I already do that to myself.
Normal or Not? I know you’re anxious about every new milestone. You’re worried I won’t be “normal.” But even if something takes me longer, I’m fine. When you talk with me and help me come up with ideas, I feel better about myself. Don’t focus on my growing up and miss what I’m doing today. Let me be a kid, and encourage me to play.
Love Who I Am. I want to know that you love me and approve of me just because I’m your child, not because I’m so responsible and a leader. I like it when you admit your mistakes. It helps me feel less pressure to be perfect. I know you’re busy but I like it best when both of you spend time with just me.
My Cover-Up. I wish you wouldn’t criticize my accomplishments. What’s wrong with 95%? I appear confident, but secretly, I’m extremely sensitive to correction and criticism. Don’t improve on what I do. I know sometimes you re-do my projects after I go to bed because they aren’t perfect. Try not to jump in to correct every word I say. Instead, reinforce that no one’s perfect.
Too Much. Sometimes I take on responsibility for other people’s problems since I have a hard time saying no. I don’t want to disappoint people, so I over commit myself. It’s hard for me to ask for help and I have trouble trusting others. If you offer help, sometimes I might accept it. Teach me how to accept life’s activities.
More Privileges. As the oldest, I should get some special privileges. I’d like to get a bigger allowance and stay out later. I have more chores than any of the other kids. How about giving them some of my chores? I did chores when I was their age, remember? I don’t mind being the babysitter once in awhile, but I like it when you remember in advance to get a babysitter.
Be Patient. How come I get in trouble more often than my siblings? It seems like you’re more impatient with me and expect more from me, like when you say, “You should know better.”
I know you feel pressure to be the best parent for me. But try to relax. I need someone to show me how to take it easy. I’m still just a kid. I’m learning too. Maybe we can learn together.
1. The Birth Order Book: Why You Are the Way You Are, Dr. Kevin Leman, Revell, 1998, pp. 287-288.
2. Birth Order & You: Discover how your sex and position in the family affects your personality, career, relationships and parenting. Dr. Ronald W. Richardson, Lois A. Richardson, Self-Counsel Press, 2nd edition, 2000; 2004. Canada, pp. 48-49, 50-51, 55-56.