National Sibling Day 2019 has just passed on April 10th. Here at Impact we have taken a look at our relationships with our siblings (or lack of) and deciphered the good, the bad, and the ugly.
Being the youngest comes with many perks: you can generally get away with more, you can learn from the mistakes of your siblings and let’s be honest – you get doted on. However, being the youngest child is not all extra treats and later bed times.
As the youngest of three girls, I know that I have been able to get away with things much more than my sisters did. How do I know this? Well, they’ve spent the past 19 years telling me so.
Being third in line makes you the baby of the family which is great! But it also means you’re the baby of the family FOREVER in everyone else’s eyes. Buying makeup for the first time? No way, she’s just a 144-month-old! And that’s just your immediate family’s response; your distant relatives are constantly telling you they “remember when you were only this high!” Which of course, everyone else remembers too because they had working memory by this point, whereas you were still a blubbering mush.
Being the youngest can be tough, but luckily, we’ve got our older siblings to show us how it’s done.
Sibling 3 out of 4 girls
Being sibling number 3 is a strange experience – not that I really know much else… apart from a short 4 years as the youngest child (which I felt was unfairly taken from me when sister number 4 arrived). In case you hadn’t already guessed, I was a real mummy’s girl and loved being the centre of her attention.
But being the youngest for a while also had its downfalls, as my two older sisters mostly bullied me until the ringleader (the first child) hit puberty. A common conception about being the middle child is that they constantly feel hard done by – and admittedly; it’s true. I am known for banging on about my “traumatic” childhood experiences, which range from being elbowed in the face for chewing the hand off my sister’s favourite Barbie, to crying after being “forced” to eat a plate of tomatoes at nursery – both of which are likely to be an exaggerated and distorted depiction of the truth.
“Being a middle child clearly made me dramatic and attention seeking when I was younger”
So, being a middle child clearly made me dramatic and attention seeking when I was younger, however, growing up, I have realised that slipping under the radar as the third out of four troublesome girls has its pro’s too.
Having an older brother
Having an older brother has taught me many things. Firstly, if there is something you like the look of in the kitchen…steal it. In a few hours the whole lot will be gone. Even though we are now the respective ages of 21 and 24, you will always try and be your parent’s favourite. However, it is nice when you get older to realise that you’re both on the same side, and that dobbing each other in when they’re misbehaving isn’t going to do you many favours, and you might need to them to cover for you one day. He taught me to be competitive and is one of the only people I struggle to lose to at anything.
Having a tea-total mother meant that my first every experience of alcohol was what my brother and dad drank; beer and whiskey. I quickly learnt that the second was a no-go, but beer has stayed as a go-to.
Liking football wasn’t a choice for me, it was a lifestyle I just had to have. I went with my brother to my first ever game when I was 6 and have loved the game ever since. His influence of team and knowledge of players has set me up with nicely so that I can make a fool of anyone who says I like the sport for ‘the attention of men’.
“I never had to fight for bathroom time”
As an only child I’ve definitely had a different experience to most of my friends who all have siblings. My status as an only child, however, has rarely made me feel anything but unique. There were moments growing up when I wished I had siblings to moan to about my mum or to share chores with, but on the whole it was pretty special. I loved mostly everything about being an only child: my super close relationship with my mum; being lavished with attention; our clean and orderly home, where I never had to fight for bathroom time and where I had my own bedroom; and the ease I felt around other adults.
There is a myth called ‘single child syndrome’ which suggests that only children are lonely or spoiled. Despite this misconception, growing up I was always surrounded by my cousins and friends – and then I was able to go back to my quiet home. It was the best of both worlds. I feel that not having siblings made me well-organised and extremely mature from a young age. Nonetheless, the downside was that I was – and probably still am – more sensitive than my friends with siblings. I didn’t develop a thick skin until quite late in my school years.
On the whole, I developed a strong identity as a child as I never needed to compete for attention and my needs were not often left overlooked. I wouldn’t change it for anything.
Sister vs Half-Sister
My relationships with my sisters are different, but also wonderful in their own ways. With my younger sister, the age difference we have is only one year, and that means we were pretty much raised as twins. Due to our circumstances, we were in the same year at school, and were very much inseparable until the moment we both had to leave home to go to universities. She is someone who has my complete trust and support, and despite some episodes of stereotypical sibling rivalry we went through in our early to mid-teens, we managed to become best friends.
My half-sister, however, is fourteen years older than me. She has told me amazing stories of my mother’s pregnancy with me, and how she was the one to choose the name that was given to me. With her, we’ve always had more of a guardian and ward kind of relationship, with her helping my parents raise me and my younger sister in the first few years of our lives. When she built a family of her own, the love and warmth she gave us before remained there, and as a result, we’ve remained closely connected.
Emily Casey, Ellie Wright, Emily Hall, Shanai Momi, Kat Vine