As the oldest of three girls, I know I’ve felt this way since…well, ever since my littlest sister was born when I was five. (Before that I wasn’t old enough to realize what “fair” or “favourite” meant.) As we grew up together I saw myself being held back from things I really wanted (to go to the mall by myself with friends, to get contacts, to have a phone in my room, etc.), and my sisters being granted the privilege shortly after I was. It didn’t seem fair for me to wait so long when they clearly didn’t have to.
As an adult I know that the reason my parents held out so long on me was because no matter the fact that they had three children, I, as the oldest, was always going to be the guinea pig. My parents didn’t give me sweets until I was two years old, and I wasn’t allowed to take driver’s education until I was almost seventeen (“all” my friends had their learner’s permits at 15). And this is how it went throughout my life, my parents waiting as long as possible to let me inch further away from them and toward independence (I don’t blame them! I’m sure I’ll do the same with my kids!), and as soon as they’d consented with me, they gave in to my sisters as well.
Since hindsight is 20/20, I realize now that the reason my sisters were allowed privileges shortly after I had (finally) been given them was because I’d handled myself well. I demonstrated to my parents that whatever the particular issue was, it was something I did just fine with, and therefore I imparted confidence to my parents. In reality, I wielded much power over my sisters; if I failed, they would be refused privileges as well. If I succeeded, however, I allowed my parents to breathe a sigh of relief, and they weren’t as scared to allow my sisters to follow in my capable footsteps.
But when you’re 13 years old, you don’t see things like that.
Reading this blog on cafemom.com reminded me of all those feelings…but really gave me insight into the thought process of parents and why it seems as though they do have favourites. I hope I can keep all of this in mind (including my own feelings as a child) when I have more than one kid of my own.