msnbc.com
updated 5/5/2008 6:17:58 PM ET 2008-05-05T22:17:58

Anyone blessed with a sibling has a story about how their parents treated them unfairly compared to their brothers and sisters — but now, first-borns have some research to back that claim. After reading an msnbc.com story about the plight of the older sibling , first-borns, middles and babies e-mailed us their childhood stories of stuff that just wasn't fair.

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"I was the oldest and my parents were WAY different on me then they were on my sister," writes Valerie. She's 26, and her younger sister is 21. "She's still getting better treatment! ... Two years ago at Christmas, I got a card and she got a laptop! She has broken it and now they're going to buy her another one."

And although one little sister owns the fact that she got away with murder as a kid, she's also appreciative of the battles her big sisters fought for her.

"I always say that having two older sisters was like having the proverbial ice breakers — they trudge through the 'parental waters,' breaking the ice so younger siblings like me get the smooth sailing through childhood," writes one New York-based reader.

"But on the flip side of that," she continues, "if you can count four baby pictures of me you would be lucky, compared to the barrage of of photos of every single step my oldest sister ever took!"

Keep reading for more responses.

First-borns’ complaints
I'm the oldest of seven! To this day, my sister and I still get up and clear the table after big family dinners while the other five just sit there and continue socializing, not remotely aware of what the two oldest siblings are doing ... but it's just easier if we do it.
— Gerry, Narragansett, R.I.

As the first born of three, I always received a harsher punishment and always heard "You're the oldest," even if my parents knew I wasn't the one who caused the problem. My brother, the baby, got away with everything (talking back, less chores, later/if any curfews, and is still coddled by my mom!). I think sometimes being the oldest has led me to be too careful and I don't take as many chance with different situations.
— Beth, Newark, Del.

I was always the baby-sitter for my sibs, one six and one seven years younger than I. I couldn't get involved in after school activities because I had to be home and I was the one who made sure everyone got to school on time. It was a great deal of responsibility and it taught me that needs have to come before wants in life. My sibs got things I never had, bicycles (I STILL can't ride one) But we all had chores and Mom tried to apportion them fairly. All in all, I think it worked out for the best, but I still miss not being able to do things at high school because I had responsibilities at home.
— JoAnn, Annandale, Va.

As the oldest I definitely took the load of the responsibility! I was tough loved, held to a higher standard and to this day can't get a break with a loan from my parents! My younger sister was supported financially up until about two years ago (we are in our 30s), my folks paid for her to go to several major universities of which she never graduated and I had to go to a community college, that I paid for and I have had to pay for my higher education.
— Stephanie

Being the oldest is harder. I have had a job from the time I was 14. I am now 23. My little brother still cannot keep a steady job, he is 20, and he still lives with our mother! All is forgive when it comes to him. When I was 18 and pregnant with my first child my mother made my stressful life worse by constantly asking me what I was going to do (I didn't live with her. My mother and stepdad kicked me out for not vacuuming my room!), like this was the worst thing in the world. ... I now have two kids and I try to treat them fairly everyday!
— Amber, Topeka, Kan.

I'm the oldest daughter and I caught it every time anything happened. My older brother was the golden child and could do no wrong. My five younger siblings coasted while I spent time grounded for being five minutes past curfew. My youngest sister never had to do chores nor did she have to hold a job while going to school. Even through doing all the right things, it was still not good enough to please my parents. So as far as the oldest child, it would depend on the number of children and whether the oldest is a boy and the next a girl. My brothers and sisters had a cake walk compared to what I dealt with growing up.
— Christine

I am the first child (I prefer this term as opposed to "oldest") and I had to fight the battle of the pierced ears. My father objected, thought pierced ears were only for "fallen women," and I had to wait until I was 16 when my mother wanted her ears pierced to get mine done. Little sister had her ears pierced by age 10. Same thing with the battle of when to wear make-up, when to date, etc.
— Susan, Atlanta

I think the oldest girl is different from the oldest boy. I was the one responsible to make sure my older brother, younger sister and younger brother did their chores, and got up for school, when my mom worked.
— Anonymous

When I graduated from high school, I was not allowed to go on a senior trip to the beach or someplace fun — I was only allowed to attend a YMCA youth government conference. My younger sister, who graduated a year after me, got to go to Florida with five friends for a week. My youngest sister, who graduated five years after me, spent three weeks in Europe. It's been nearly 20 years, and I am still pretty mad about that — and I still haven't been to either Fort Lauderdale OR Europe!
— Amy

Invisible middle children
I got the brunt of a lot of it. I'm the middle child. My older sister was Daddy's little girl, and my little brother was Mama's boy. When either of them did something, I seemed to take the blame. I spent a lot of time being on restrictions, and got a lot of spankings. Don't get me wrong — I did do my share of things, but I didn't do all of which I got blamed for.
— Ashley, High Springs, Fla.

I find this completely false. I was second oldest and all I ever heard was "why can't you be more like your sister, she would've never done that." A lot of the things I did wrong, she was with me but didn't get caught and when I got in trouble for it she would stand and act so innocent; till this day I remind her of that.
— Anonymous

Are you kidding? In the middle is the hardest by far! It was always, "Why can't you be like your older sister?" Then it was, "But he is the baby." There were three of us, and I, being in the middle, was the one that was always punished. My older sister was the perfect little girl, me in the middle was the tomboy and, of course, my brother was the baby boy. My older sister never did anything wrong; it was always me that got yelled at more than the other two siblings.
— Theresa, Chicago

Video: The effects of birth order

In defense of younger siblings
First-borns are all the rave and any child after that does not get quite the same royal treatment. It is as if some parents say "been here, done this" and this does hold true for punishments as well as rewards. When a younger sibling gets anything it is in replacement of attention most times.
— Anonymous

I am the youngest. I was the troublemaker. My brother says that I had it a lot easier. Our parents were not as strict with me. However, I was a little manipulator so a lot of the leniency was due to my parents not really knowing what was going on. Now, he's the more successful one and I would have to say that our parents help me out more. I don't ask very often, but if I need financial help, they help out ... but I always pay them back. I know they would do the same for him if he needed it.
— Anonymous

I am the baby of the family. I have an older brother and sister. I was always able to get my way more than my sister. Whenever anyone wanted something or wanted to do anything my sister especially put me up to asking because more times than not I was able to get what I wanted. I also had a later curfew about an hour later, sometimes later if I really wanted it. My sister especially would say I was spoiled.
— Sherry, Independence, Mo.

Being they youngest of three daughters, there was definitely a difference in how we acted and were treated growing up. My oldest sister was the idol to look up to as the role model (personally, I think she bordered on "brown noser" with my parents ... LOL) I can remember one time my oldest sister having a fit because she had to wait until she was 15 years old to wear pantyhose, and my mother let my middle sister wear them at 13 years old. Oh!! What a war! By the time I was wearing pantyhose I was probably 10, and no one cared.
— Anonymous, New York

As the youngest, I had less parental rules to follow growing up, but also less parental involvement in activities they already participated in with my older siblings. I had little or no incentive as a teen to get a job as everything was paid for by my parents. I failed my first year of college, not being prepared emotionally or academically to be in that environment. I finished college years later on my dime. I've been striving ever since to find my professional calling. Ironically (or not), my oldest brother is a lawyer, my older brother is a research physician, and I'm working as temp still trying to find my calling in life. By no means do I blame my parents for where I am in life, but I think there was definitely a difference in upbringing between myself and my siblings that have instilled different attitudes and values about work and life.
— Anonymous, Kansas City, Mo.

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