How do you teach your eldest to be a good example? I think you don't. I think it's a really unfair expectation and puts a lot of pressure on them that's just not fair.
I think we have to work harder at being a bit more balanced, a bit more fair with our kids in their birth order and not expecting that just because you came out first, second, third, or fourth, or you're a twin and you're not a twin, or you're a boy or you're a girl or whatever, that that means anything; that you're supposed to be a certain way.
I think what's better is if we try to view our kids as equal, and don't put that pressure on them to be responsible for the others. I mean, I had a client this morning that we were talking about the pressure that she feels to look after her younger siblings, and they're all in their 20s and 30s. Just that pressure of being the eldest of four and thinking that I need to be the mom, and that I need to nurture them and meet their needs. And it's just not fair.
There's a lot of guilt and shame, I think, that a lot of firstborns carry when they don't want to have that role. And they shouldn't have that role. And I think it's up to us to not put them in that position, saying stuff like... I catch myself saying this to my kids, or my firstborn you know, "Well, you're the big sister, and you should know better, or she looks up to you," because I think what it does is it shames them. It also communicates, inadvertently, that what you want and need doesn't matter. And your sibling's needs or my needs are more important than yours. It's like they get kind of overlooked. And I think that just kind of sucks. I think if we can try to not do that, that's ideal.
But again, I know it's not always that easy. So, how do you teach them to be a good example? I think you're just kind, validating, empathetic, respectful, just conscious in how you interact with them. And by you treating them that way, that's then the only template that they have. They're not controlled, criticized, or bullied by you, so they're not going to do that to their siblings.
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