The Curse Of The Firstborn

Opinion

This post goes out to all firstborns in African households. By firstborn I mean that you are a first child in that family (the first to be born), and as a first child there are things you go through that other children just won’t understand… Others will not feel your pain, when you are acting…

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This post goes out to all firstborns in African households. By firstborn I mean that you are a first child in that family (the first to be born), and as a first child there are things you go through that other children just won’t understand…

Others will not feel your pain, when you are acting all silent and moody, then someone says… “Oh! She’s the first born” and another person says “No wonder…”

And when you’re wondering why your junior ones are getting all the cool nicknames (like Prince), but you got the most traditional names in your village (Olatunji Olakunle Bright Jnr)… and still the pastor made sure your baptismal name is AUGUSTUS

And when you read the bible story of Jacob and Esau, and Esau lost his birthright, but somehow Esau is still the bad guy for being hungry…

esau firstborn

Sometimes the society doesn’t realize the subtle oppression it puts you through..

But this post will surely feel your pain. This post will bring your silent struggles to light. Your many silent struggles. And why you struggle so.

Saying firstborn is a hell of a lot tiring so I’ll just shorten it to FIBI, so dear readers, anytime you see FIBI in this post, know that it means firstborn okay? Let’s go…

1.  The Pregnancy

Being FIBI means you were the first pregnancy your parents ever had to deal with, and with the first pregnancy comes the most anxiety and fear.

Simple.

Which means when you were conceived, your mother was anxious because she was new to the experience of pregnancy. ..

Before, she was thinking of new shoes and hairstyles and P Square’s album is coming out next week…

now she is gaining weight, her hormones are dancing, all these people want to touch her belle…

When you were conceived as FIBI, your father was new to the responsibility and the changes as well.

Before he was thinking of English Premier League and Buhari’s new budget…

now he’s thinking of Pampers and School Fees and Praying his wife is okay.

This atmosphere of anxiety could haunt you forever.

2. Experimentation

Now, because your parents were new to the experience of having you, there were probably more mistakes in raising you than raising your junior ones. (You know, from lack of experience)

As FIBI you are “the experiment baby”.

Your parents did not understand much about your growth. Your younger brothers and sisters did not feel this because your parents had built up the experience from having you.

I’ll give an example, when FIBI starts teething, because the mother is new to the experience, she might think

“What the hell is happening to my child? Why is there Saliva everywhere?”

But when the second or third born starts teething, she can tell the difference because

“Oh Junior is teething, I remember when it happened to FIBI.”

This is why the second and third borns may be growing faster than you, even though you’re eating the same food. They know how it works now.

3. Forbidden Fruit

In our African society, where more people have premarital sex than they like to admit; some marriages are preordained by pregnancy.

After impregnating baby girl, the only acceptable social alternative for big daddy is to marry her. In such situations, many parents see FIBI as the reason for their marriage..

and if such relationships turn bitter, you will be the reason for their problems.

“If I didn’t get pregnant with you, I wouldn’t be in this mess”

blame first-born

Why are they blaming you for a problem you did not cause?

4. The Responsibility

As FIBI, you are expected to be the next authority figure in the house. When the parents leave, you are expected to be the ‘man of the house’ or ‘woman of the house’.

You are expected to be in check of your siblings at all times. And if they do not behave, you are the one to take the blame. All this on your small head.

As FIBI, when you get a junior brother or sister you are expected to nurture them as well. You are supposed to be the ‘third parent’ of the kids. Their second daddy, Their second mummy.

You see, as a child, you are naturally programmed to see your siblings as competition. You’re thinking “Who is this other baby? And why is Mommy showing them more attention than me?” But you need to fight your programming, and protect them.

Why wont you share? Don’t you know she’s your baby sister?

Sometimes, Favouritism comes into play, and FIBI will feel isolated in their own home.

Don’t forget, FIBI is supposed to get married before their junior ones.

As FIBI, you need to marry quickly in order to give your brothers and sisters a chance. Why? Because you are FIBI of course, and this is Africa.

This is what I like to call, the FIBI Time Limit™

5. The Only Child

The only child is the double wahala of this discussion, because not only are you a first child, you are the center of attention. You are a product of anxiety that carries your entire life. Not only are you privy to all the conditions mentioned above, but now, you are the ‘only hope’ of the family.

‘Only’ daughters will rarely ever have suitors that please their parents, because it’s not about the suitor, it’s the harsh reality of seeing their only daughter go. And yet, ‘only’ children are primed from childhood to breed and breed quickly and vastly.

As an only child you are prone to more and more acts of rebellion to escape your confines. Because you’re in a situation where you always feel judged, you may lash out in different ways, especially in teenage years.

Sometimes you know that your actions will be without much consequence,

“What can daddy do to me sef, am I not the only child?”

As the only child you are the most likely to explore the unknown.

Final Words

Look, there is no solution to being a firstborn, as it is not a problem. It is a God given position, so you have to act accordingly. Make that position your own.

There are studies that say FIBI are the most intelligent children. So there’s that. But remember this intelligence only comes from being able to teach your younger ones.

If you’re a parent that treats your first child in the ways I’ve mentioned, it doesn’t make you a bad parent. This life thing can be confusing at times, but hopefully a little understanding can make a difference.

Thanks for reading.

Image via CoolMomPicks.com

Responses

  1. Iyanu
    IMO, I think the kids in the middle have the worst of it jare… You don’t have the special position that comes with being first or last. Nobody cares about you…
    1. Ray
      I think kids in the middle have it the best joor. There’s always someone to do your work and there’s no crazy pressure on you, unlike the first and last borns.
      1. teminiran
        lmao that’s a joke Ray. I do the work. Your parents only remember you when there’s work to do, and basically pretend your siblings aren’t there. Older sis is the oldest so they leave her alone. Baby sis is a brat, so they leave her alone too. Leaving me.
    2. Amina
      Agreed. My bro, first born, is revered, and my little sis, last born, is princess. Me, i don’t know sef. The worst part about being in the middle is also being the oldest girl. I tire from all the responsibilities and no perks..
  2. First Born, First Girl.
    First Born and First Girl here and I tell you, it is not easy. The worst part has to be having to be responsible for your younger ones and their bad choices and actions, and having no one to confide in. I have had to be strong for myself and everyone else, especially my younger sisters who sort of look up to me. And then the sacrifices you have to make, especially when your parents can no longer take care of the bills like they used to. It is stressful to be a first born. It really is.
  3. Blaqlotus
    Chai! The dilemma of a first born.. My friends and lovers have always said i’m too strict, you act like a mummy. Issnor my fault nne, i became a mother while i was still a baby. Looking after 4 younger ones no be beans.Your parents expect too much from you, i started cooking while my eyes were still level with the gas, you’ll climb chair and be cooking food, pounding yam at 12, was up with my mum by 5am every morning to prepare breakfast, i resented my younger ones then. But i’m glad for it now. I’m going to make a good mother and hopefully a better wife.
    1. woyi_oc
      “was up with my mum by 5am every morning to prepare breakfast……”

      I know this feeling. Difference was I wasn’t with me mom. Just my bro and I (the bloody brat)

  4. Cokeboy
    I’ll rather be the first born due to my past experience. As the youngest for over 17yrs before I entered uni, I did everything because my grandfather said “you cannot call the elder when the younger one is around”. I never got one day rest as long as I was the youngest in that house. I’d beg my parent every time I was on holiday with them that I wanted another sibling.
  5. All Heart
    Thank you for this post.

    The other one that gets me is prayer point in church, “God give me the blessing of the first born in my family” “God make me the head in the family”. Like the struggle for us is not enough, then send our younger ones on a mission to steal our position in the family. Chai!

  6. Ray
    I’m the last child but I have to give kudos to firstborns. Una dey try abeg. Especially when they get blamed for all the mishaps done by the younger ones.
    Saw it happen with my eldest sister, seeing it happen with my oldest niece.
    And there’s usually this bond between first and last borns, especially if there is a substantial age difference between them.
    When I was a child, everyone used to call my eldest sister my second mum, cos we went everywhere together and looked alike, so much I started to believe them sef. And she was always responsible for me.
    Looking at it now, that ‘big sister, role model’ thing was so adorable and I miss it. Why did we grow up sef? Ugh!
  7. Brownie
    Lmao! sending our jnr ones on a mission to take our place… Nd yes u’re soo right abt we first borns being d experiment babies cuz i remember when i was just out of sec schl nd was seeking admission into Hya Institution; Boy! Did my folks make choices that literally wasted my time nd all till i finally took a stand nd then they finally got it right
    Fastforward to this day nd time,i see my younger ones aving it easy as my folks now know d ropes better nd so deres no unnecessary time wasting due to wrong choices nd all…. Thank U Ob for #HittingHome *literally
  8. Adewhalaay
    meeeeehhhhnn!!! I was just discussing this same issue with a friend the other day… but with the FIBI status comes multifaceted responsibilities and wahala!!! everything is your fault… your junior one forgets to send a work email and it’s your fault… i basically became a loner in a family of 5, as most times i dont understand what they’re mad about or blaming me for.

    the most annoying one for me is having to do almost everything cos my younger ones are supposed to learn from me… *how do they learn if they dont do?*… well my own new mantra is Ï am preparing myself for my exit from this house”.

    gotta go… mum’s already beckoning for me to go do some kitchen duties… *sigh*

  9. MIA
    The responsibility of first child!! My elder sister was just 13 months older than me but was a mum to us. Used to collect beating from my mum for us all. I think it’s worse when you are a girl and 1st born. Love you sis I will buy you Range Rover.
  10. P
    First Born Only Child here…. from what I refuse to call a poor home, people of God Ezzizint Easy oooo. Struggling to go to school, have a Lil niece and parents in all my agenda…
  11. Bee
    I totally agree with the experimentation part. My sister (FIBI) was and is still the experiment, her prepuce was forcefully harvested by my grandma when mom was doing the “naive first time mom”. When grandma suggested tribal marks like this (which she herself doesnt have) mom had to stand her ground. When it comes to choice of schools, she was definately the experiment. Her wedding sef is the experiment cos my parents learnt a lot and are planning how different others would be. Anyway, she still enjoys so many benefits as the firstborn.
  12. joe
    I have this female friend with pneumonia, she said when she was a toddler, it was hot and her mum saw that she was sweating profusely and quickly switch ON the fan. Babe is still suffering till today.
  13. Redhot
    Really feel for ladies who double as first borns and first girls……It’s a widely unacknowledged fact that they all develop the “Ada syndrome”…

    Too strict, too responsible, too everything!!!..chai.

  14. Mariam
    I can really relate to this. I am a first child, and the thing that gets to me most is how I am expected to be perfect, because “you have to set good examples for your siblings”. My academic scores must be perfect, I must have a very good well paying job and be a good christian.

    Its even worse cause I’m the only girl. Not only do my siblings go scot-free when they do the same thing that earned me three day’s to a week’s punishment, but I have been mandated to get married when or before I am 25. I am 23 and currently prepping for nysc, so that gives me two years (service year included) to find husband and of course start having children.

    It pisses me off so much, and I mostly want to tell my parents to leave me alone – forever – but there’s the culture of respecting parents and all that.

    Sigh.

  15. Nelo
    No. Unless they are joking , no one has the right to give us matching orders on marriage.
    My name is Nelo and I hope I have made common sense.
  16. Mz_AmyDew
    What of the pseudo FIBI’s? We are just 2 kids on the house, my elder bro and I, with 8yrs between us. So I’m like an Ada/ Last born/ only Girl so there’s no opportunity for sloppiness. Although I get the perks of having a big brother….but growing up, I really felt like an only child most times
  17. Dan
    I am a first born male.
    if I tell you say e easy na set-up my guy. the expectations on me are high and sometimes I feel like the walls are closing in on me.
    my parents and perhaps everyone around me expects me to finish school fast, get a well paying job then start contributing in the upbringing and training of my younger ones — like am the one that gave birth to them (don’t get it twisted though, I love my younger bloods very much).
    I am supposed to be a role model, my life must be perfect.
    Trying to date a babe and the moment you tell her you’re the first born, she will assume you will not be ready to settle down till you are 40 years and above and just imagine , just last Christmas, my grandma told me she is expecting her first great grand child from me before she joins her ancestors while my mama will always find an indirect way to remind me that there is so much responsibility in the family every time she notice me talking sweet with a babe on the phone.
    in fact, I am tired.
  18. Pingback: THE CURSE OF THE FIRST BORNS | BOOKS BY OB KEENG

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