The First

Being the first born kid has some major advantages:  more attention, more stuff, more opportunities for parents to learn, more mistakes.

I parent my second child different than my first.  And my third?  Well, let’s just say she gets away with a lot.

I just ordered a whole slew of Christian parenting books I’ve been wanting to read.  Because there are days, my friends, that I need a guide!  While searching, I ran across this new research that proves that the oldest child does have it tougher.  Great!  More guilt.  

Do you parent your firstborn differently?  Do you expect more?  Demand more results? 
Talk to me, people!
Food for the Soul:
Ephesians 6:4
Fathers, do not exasperate your 
children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.


  1. 1


    My first born was an only for a decade. So she was, of course, treated differently. Now, with 3…. yes. She is treated differently. I don’t know if it is becasue she is first or just because she is older. I wonder if with a gap in age that large, the oldest boy will be like the first? hmmm…. I try hard to have the same expectations and rules for all my kids. Age appropriate of course.

  2. 2


    I try so hard to parent the same, but it just doesn’t happen. I know I expect more responsibility from our oldest. I’d like to think I do it because his personality is conducive to it, but I doubt that’s true. The poor kid was dethroned from “only child” status at 2 years and 2 months… by twins. He then got way less attention one-on-one, but more was expected of him. It’s tough, sure. But he’s probably the easiest kid I have, too. So maybe it all evens out???

  3. 3


    I am not sure, but I don’t think so. I would have to look closer for a day or two and then report… but they are only 19 months and 3, so I don’t really think there’s enough time there to say.

  4. 4


    O’my you haven’t visited my blog as of late…this would help you to know your NOT the only one struggling here.

    Let me share with you this…the book “Power of the PRAYING Parent” by Stormie O’Martin is a keeper and “re-reader” often in my list of guide books!
    Try it on for size!

    Blessing to you commrad!

  5. 5


    Oh yes…most definitly. Boo gets away with a TON more than Hunter did at 6, and we are still learning what works and doesn’t work as days go on. Example, Hunter wasn’t allowed to go outside by himself at 6 (within eye sight of course) and now I am “Get out!! Go Go Go! Get outside!!”. I love it…he brings up that it isn’t fair…so I tell him that he can stay inside…not happy about that either.

  6. 6


    Oh, I always thought I would parent all of my kids the same way. I realized that was a myth when I had more than one child. They are all so different. What works for one child, doesn’t always work for the other.

    I do think you always demand a little more from your first born. I’m sure I hold my oldest to a slightly different standard — but she’s also my easiest child. My middle child is much more tenacious and difficult if he doesn’t want to do something that I ask. He “wears me down” a lot easier — and gets away with a little more as a result. My oldest doesn’t challenge me that way, so it’s easier to make her “tow the line,” so to speak.

  7. 7


    In a sense we have 2 first borns. My oldest is a girl and yes, we do expect a lot out of her. She sets the tone for responsibility, etc. My second born is the first born boy. I don’t think I am as hard on him as my dh is, but then again I am probably harder on #1 being that she is a girl. Hope this helps!!!

  8. 8


    I try not to, but I know I do. I tend to expect more from the oldest, well because she is older. So she feels I am always fussing at her. I hope I’m not. I try not to. I think also you see what works and what doesn’t so you keep changing your parenting style with each one. My oldest is always saying Lil Logan gets away with everything.

  9. 9


    My youngest was sick the other day and stayed home with Grandma and when I got home that evening he immediately met at the door telling me that the “Today Show” said the oldest child gets 30% more attention from their parents, and he was down right annoyed about it! I just said….thanks a lot Grandma for having that TV on!

    My oldest thinks the younger has it easy, but the youngest feels his older brother gets all of my attention (usually because he’s in trouble AGAIN). I have 2 boys who are who totally different from each other and I have to parent them differently.


  10. 10


    I try to be “fair” but that’s like hitting a moving target some days. I think you do expect more from the oldest. Some, in part, because you want everything to be “perfect” with the first child. And, also because they are, well… the oldest. (“You should know better” pops into my mind for some reason.) But, bottom line, I think it’s more important to parent each child in a way that is effective for them and their personality and not to worry so much aobut what their birth order is.

    Welcome to parenting in the real world!!! Dawn

  11. 11


    I have two girls, one almost three years and the other five months. While my youngest isn’t old enough for me to really judge how differently I’m parenting, it also gives me that “new” insight that some may have forgotten. While my eldest might have some things tougher later, she also got one-on-one together time with us that the youngest simply won’t have. The other day my mother in law was doing “This little piggy” with the youngest, and I thought, “Oh my goodness, I’ve never done that with her! I did it with Blondie a ton, and never with Cheeks! I’m a terrible mother!” Since I’m trying to do a good job with both kids, some things are going to fall by the wayside for both kids. I think it kind of evens out in the end, you know?

  12. 12


    Having them so close together, the first three have been/are parented pretty much the same. The baby, however, is a MUCH different story. She was a preemie, first off. She is the last baby, but mostly, she is just so teeny tiny that it is hard for us to remember just how old she is. So she gets away with a ton of stuff the other kids got in trouble for.

  13. 13


    I was the oldest child, and my younger sister was less than a year younger, but my parents STILL treated her like the baby. I told myself I wouldn’t do the same thing, but I do. I have higher expectations of my older daughter. She’s older for one thing, plus she’s more responsible. My younger daughter was a born youngest child. She’s a total goofball. It’s hard for me to be as hard on her as my oldest, but I’m trying. They are two years apart.

  14. 14


    I know it works that way in my house…the plan was to treat them all equally, but I started out with pretty high standards. And now that we have the twins, well, I’m too tired for my high standards. Poor oldest child.

  15. 15


    I try so hard not to, but I know I am probably much harder on my first. I expect a lot of her, but it is compounded by the fact that she is really bright and mature for her age. It is hard not to get frustrated when she acts her own age.

    That being said, I take comfort in the fact that I am a first born and am sure my parents did the same thing and I turned out wonderfully :)

  16. 16


    I spent yesterday wandering all over the internets and I sincerely don’t remember how I got here. All I know is that I bookmarked you so that I could find my way back.

    I have 4 kiddos and I have to say that both of my older two get the short end of the stick. I do expect more of them – but part of that stems from the fact that they are older and more *can* be expected. A 10 year old can be given more responsibility than a 3 year old – I think that blurs the line for me sometimes.

    My issue is honestly more along gender lines. We have one daughter and I feel that sometimes I am way harder on her than any of her brothers. I think partly because I know how little girls work having been one. :)

    I’d be curious how birth order of the parents would work in this – if it changes the outcome of “first born has it tougher”.

  17. 17


    I say…

    You get what you get and you don’t throw a fit…that even applies to birth order.

    My oldest may have a lot of responsibility…but if he has a problem with it…take it up with God. God is the one who put him first in line…and who knew he would handle it well.

    I think a new wall slogan is in order…

    “I guilt, therefore I am your mom.”

    :) The Maid

    PS – I love my wall words too…we have:

    “Sleep tight little sailor” (in the nursery)

    “What a beautiful mess” (in the laundry room)

    “Thank you for not smoking, spitting,cussing, being ugly or acting stupid.”

    “Be your own kind of beautiful” in my daughters room.

    And my next purchase:

    Above the front door:
    “We consider all of our guests a blessing: Some in coming, some in going.”


  18. 18


    We are working on child #2 right now but as a middle child I can say that the oldest in my family had it rough and my younger sister got away with murder. I hope I will have the same expectations of all my kids but my son is pretty spoiled so to avoid feeling guilty about changing his life drastically, while still giving the new one the same amount of attention, I have a feeling I will have more of an “anything goes” attitude to preserve my sanity!

    Thanks for the discussion!
    linjenals@yahoo dot com

  19. 19


    I have raised an “only”. Talk about guilt and worry- and I didn’t even have the chance to correct my mistakes on a second one! I always try to remeber that we parent the best we know how and I remind my son of that as often as possible.

  20. 20


    I think we do expect more from our first born. He’s always been more responsible and easier to parent. Eh… I hate saying that, it’s horrible!

  21. 22


    yes and no.. mine are all so close together, I think i treat them more differently b/c of personalities, but yes, that is b/c of birth order for sure! and yes, i feel guilty, and yet i try and do things with her just b/c she is older and try to help her understand this is a treat b/c she is older! not sure if making sense! lol

    God Bless!

  22. 23


    For what it’s worth…THE FIRST one IS just different….she is laid back and she is non confrontational…the second…well…she is the NANCY GRACE of this family…the debater, the negotiator and the observer…SHE has red hair and requires different parenting…someday I’ll write THAT book, “How to parent a redhead!” The third…HE just schmoozes…so without TRYING, we do I suppose parent differently….

    THAT first born…
    she WAS the guinea pig….poor her!!

  23. 24


    Oh yea. Way different. With our 1st child, we called the pediatrician 100x/week. Is it OK to introduce this food or that food? We sterilized the pacifier if it happened to touch the couch or the floor. By the time the 3rd child came along, the poor thing was eating Cheetos out of the couch cushions & no one blinked an eye. Our oldest is 20 & he says we have gotten soft in our “old” age. He thinks his 12 + 8 yr old sisters have got it much easier than he did. ?? Oh well, he still calls & visits, so he must still love us. 😀

  24. 25


    There is no question that we are tougher on our first born (who also happens to be our only girl.) Sometimes I rationalize it by saying the three boys are just easier personalities than she is or they’re not in puberty like she is. But it’s still true and now she is catching on to it. Maybe we need to reevaluate things.

  25. 27


    I parent my kids the same but under different circumstances. If that makes sense.
    Z my oldest was a low maintenance kid in many ways but at age almost 20 he is making up for lost time. LOL He was a good natured kid, and rarely did I have any problems with him, I give him more freedoms then I do my daughter who is now 15. and this bothers her to which I say too bad, YOUR A GIRL! For instance no you don’t go down to the park to meet a friend….Where as Zach I would let down to the park all the time. She’s a girl and there are creeps in this world so no you don’t get to go to the park where there are lots of trees and trails for pervs to hide. Not happening.
    Then there’s the little one who’s 8, he is treated different definately because he’s the “baby” But the baby still has to listen he’s not spoiled in a bratty way.
    Also I have more money now with the younger two so they get a little more in the way of things than Zach had when he was there age. Yet Zach was spoiled with time because I was a stay at home mom with him and he had all my attention. So anyway bottom line is we parent them differently, meet their different needs differently YET love them the SAME!
    Sorry for the rambles, you must be thinking, who is God’s green earth is this woman?

    Dee :)

  26. 30


    As an oldest myself, I always swore that I wouldn’t put all (or most) of the blame on my oldest. ha ha ha. My oldest is always the one who gets the – you know better, what kind of example are you setting for your sisters, etc. – heap of the blame!! But she also doesn’t have to wear ANY hand me downs, gets more priveldges and a later bedtime. :)

  27. 31


    I find myself expecting way more from my oldest who is only 6 than I should. I ask him for help much more than his four year old brother. I pray about it alot and ask God to help me remember not to expect more from him than he has to offer at only 6. But it is also helpful to help his sister or brother get a drink or help wash hands it’s part of being a family…

  28. 32

    Growin' with it says

    good question!! i am a middle kiddo so that explains a lot about me! i know one thing for sure…my boys are drastically different, with different personalities and different needs, so the ol’ quote “you can’t parent them the same” is so very true. good luck in your efforts.

  29. 33


    Mine definitely get different reactions out of me. Part of it is that they are girl then boy too though! I think that is part of it. Who knows. Lately, I have been pretty even with screaming at them all the same!

  30. 34


    My kids are 26 months apart with my son being older and daughter younger. I think I treat them pretty equally as far as expectations and punishment. However, the hubby has been a bit more lenient on the daughter, of course. We have had to address that issue together.

    Being a firstborn myself, I think I expect more from each of them and my standard may be a bit higher than say a baby of the family. If that makes sense.

    Parenting is definitely the toughest job on the planet.

  31. 35


    I def treat them differently. I will let my 2 year old out in the back yard with her big brother, age 4, and I’ll tell him to watch her. I NEVER would have let my son out in the backyard alone at 2. So, my second is getting more freedom then her brother got, and my older child has much more responsibility placed on him. I’ve also noticed that I let my baby cry more than I let her brother. When I just had one, if he cried, I was there, he got my attention instantly. Now someone is always having to wait.

    I am thankful that God gave me each child in the order He saw fit and He knew how their personalities would be. I am also incredibly grateful for His grace in my parenting. Without God’s grace, my kids would be a mess!!

  32. 36


    Yes, sadly I do. I expect my daughter to essentially be a mini-me while I let her younger brothers get away with so much less. I think it’s both a gender and birth order thing. And since I’m now aware of the problem, I’m working on it.

  33. 37


    I’m horribly more demanding on my eldest than any of the other kids. I hate it about myself, and yet I can’t stop.

    My parents were the same way with me, and while I hated it, I loved them. I’m not going to give up trying to be fair, I just have a feeling that Jare is always going to have more expectations. He’s an amazing kid.

  34. 38


    Yes, I expect her to act older and set an example, she of course does the opposite.

    Madison pretty much rules the roost, she has no rules…That’s what happens when you have a fourth.

  35. 39


    I am harder on my first, but I think a lot of it is because she is soooo much like me! And the things that bother me the most in her personality are the things that are in her personality!! And I was so uptight with her! By the time I got to number five, well, lets just say a little dirt injested never hurt anybody!

  36. 40


    I don’t know WHO did that research, but from my experience, my oldest sister (of five kids) was totally screwed up, and my oldest out of four is pretty much screwed up. Of course my sister is doing better and making more money than most people I know, so let’s hope the same becomes true for my oldest, k?

  37. 41


    I’ve thought about this a lot because #1 I am the oldest and #2 I have an oldest child.

    I’m pretty sure this has been happening since the beginning of time and always will. If we didn’t treat our eldest this way who would fill the roll as the responsible type A people who get the job done right.

    And personally, I expect a lot from mine because I need help. I need help real bad.

  38. 42


    Hi Kristen,

    I’ve been lurking/enjoying your blog for a while, but this is my first comment. :)

    We parent each child slightly differently in terms of method/style. In terms of responsibilities/age-approprite expectations, however, we try to be consistent across the board.

    Of course, at first blush it often seems like our oldest gets the short end of the stick–but (in another two years!) I fully expect his 2 year-younger brother to be doing the same things that he is now doing.

    A good rule of thumb that I try to keep in mind, wen I have a task to delegate, is to give it to the YOUNGEST child who is capable of doing it.



  39. 43


    Well, my first born was much easier than the 2nd two,.. so the ways that we had to change our parenting was actually to discipline and parent more than before. And then when the 3rd came along, and he started exhibiting behaviors like the 2nd, I thought, “nuh-uh! I’m not going here again,” so the ways that we changed from 2 to 3 was to be even more consistent and on-the-ball. So yeah, we definitely got better at it as we went (and hopefully will keep doing so) but in our case I think it was the 2nd one who got the raw end of the deal, since the 1st one didn’t prepare us enough for her!

    You know, when I was in high school my parents flat out admitted that making me get a job when I started driving to pay for car insurance was a bad idea since my grades dropped as a result, and that my brother was going to have different rules. Yet I had to keep working. Now how is that fair, I ask you?? 😛

  40. 45


    i am the oldest in a brood of 6 and yes, i do believe that more has been expected of me. may it be petty fights or quarrels, i always get this: “you should have more patience because you are older and you can understand them more”

    in a way, this explains the “me against them” atmosphere while growing up, but somehow, things have a way of working out and i am very close to my siblings.

    but like you said, those down the line gets away with a lot, which would have been very MAJOR issues during my time.

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