The Pressure of the Youngest

While being the baby of the family brings much satisfaction, it can also be rather disappointing


photo by Kendel Barber

Sometimes the pressure placed on the youngest child in a family is vastly overlooked.

Kendel Barber, Co-Editor-in-Chief

Birth order significantly contributes to the experiences of childhood. As the youngest of three children in my family, I know the pressure that the youngest feels, as well the joys that come with being the youngest.

While being the youngest child comes with much freedom, it also entails the feeling of being forgotten. As I’ve grown up, I’ve felt that the focus was always on my older siblings. Their activities and accomplishments were always more important than mine were, and because of this, they were showered with appreciation and support by my parents. 

There are some great things about being the baby of the family, as my parents have clearly loosened up the rules for me. For instance, my parents have no problem leaving me home alone for the weekend, when they would NEVER leave my older siblings home for even one night when they were in high school. Whenever I got into arguments with my older siblings, they would almost always get blamed and get a more severe punishment. I got to slyly smile at them while they got scolded, knowing full well the argument was mostly my fault. 

There is a constant, overbearing pressure of needing to live up to the successes of older siblings.”

I generally get to do things at a younger age than my older siblings were able to do because my parents would either stop caring, or want to even out the privileges between me and my siblings. When my parents thought it was time to buy my brother a cell phone for Christmas, I also got a phone that same Christmas, when I was only eight years old — clearly before I needed one. 

While I get to reap the benefits of being the youngest, there are many occasions that leave me feeling overlooked and under-appreciated. 

Take sports, for example, which my brother and I used to play at the same time. When I was playing on JV as a freshman, my brother was starting on varsity as a junior. Of course, my brother’s play was more exciting and impressive than mine, so I understood why my parents wanted to go see that game, but the problem was that I would never be able to reach a level that was as impressive for my parents to come see. I was always two steps behind my brother and never got the support that he did. 

There is a constant, overbearing pressure of needing to live up to the successes of older siblings. How often do younger brothers and sisters hear from teachers that their older siblings were great to have in class?

In my case, my older sister has already graduated with a Master’s degree, lives overseas, speaks three languages fluently, and has a steady career. My older brother, who was a state champion athlete, high achieving academic student, and talented singer at the same high school I attend, is chalking up more achievements as a sophomore in college. And I… am an average high school senior. 

All of this has left me still trying to figure out who I am supposed to be and how I can create my own path in life. Of course, I still have the privilege of being related to two amazing people, whom I love and admire. And while there are surely difficulties associated with all birth orders, I can attest to the fact that it isn’t easy being at the end.