What is Eldest Daughter Syndrome?

Thứ bảy - 27/04/2024 01:08
The lifelong effects of being the oldest daughter Eldest daughters everywhere are shocked to learn that they have a lot in common, both in their childhood and their personality today. You've probably heard about it on TikTok or Twitter,...
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Eldest daughters everywhere are shocked to learn that they have a lot in common, both in their childhood and their personality today. You’ve probably heard about it on TikTok or Twitter, where women are speaking out about eldest daughter syndrome (also referred to as oldest sibling syndrome). It ranges from having lots of responsibilities as a kid to being an incurable people-pleaser. This article will cover all the symptoms of eldest daughter syndrome, why it exists in the first place, and what oldest daughters can do to heal from its effects.

Things You Should Know

  • Eldest daughter syndrome is the burden felt by oldest daughters because they’re given too many adult responsibilities in their family before they’re ready.
  • Eldest daughter syndrome can make women feel overburdened, stressed out, and constantly responsible for others.
  • If you have eldest daughter syndrome, heal by setting boundaries, delegating your responsibilities, and learning to let loose.
Section 1 of 4:

What is eldest daughter syndrome?

  1. Eldest daughter syndrome is the burden felt by oldest daughters because of their unique childhood experience.
    Extra duties are often given to the oldest girl in a family, leading to a shared 'syndrome' of being responsible but overburdened. Other effects include perfectionism, anxiety, and burnout, as well as leadership and organizational skills.[1]
    • For example, oldest daughters often have to do household tasks, take care of their siblings, assist their parents, and forge their own path in their family and the world. When they’re given tasks to do that parents normally do, it’s called parentification.[2]
    • You might have eldest daughter syndrome if you’re always the one to organize the siblings’ gift for your parents or coordinate a family gathering, but you’re also trained to be a people-pleaser that fears failure.
    • Other effects of being a parentified oldest daughter include having trouble with boundaries in relationships, not being able to let loose to have fun, and always wanting to be in control. Sometimes it can lead to lashing out and being rebellious.
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Section 2 of 4:

Why Eldest Daughters are So Similar

  1. Step 1 The trauma of parentification lasts a long time.
    If someone is forced to act like an adult before it’s appropriate for them, they can miss important social and emotional development. Some responsibility is a good thing, but too much can make a person feel anxious about pleasing their parents and covering all their tasks.[3]
    • Parentification can prompt insecure attachment styles, stress and anxiety, and self-blame or guilt.
    • Asking a nine-year-old kid to do the dishes isn’t parentification, but asking them to cook all the family’s meals or be a full-time carer for a sibling is.
  2. Step 2 Birth order influences someone’s personality.
    Some people claim that every firstborn child is more dutiful and more unstable because they were ‘dethroned’ from their parents’ attention when a younger sibling was born. That might not always be the case, but being the oldest means that they were usually the most capable child when their parents needed help, so they were more likely to go to the oldest than any other sibling.[4]
    • Birth order theory is old-fashioned and partially debunked in psychology. Most experts agree that while your position in sibling order impacts your experiences and your personality, it has a different effect in every family depending on their context.
  3. Step 3 Many families give different chores to girls than to boys.
    Because of the way that girls and boys are treated differently in lots of cultures, childcare and household tasks often get given to the girls in the family, while the boys are given other tasks or none at all. This makes daughters much more likely to be overloaded with responsibilities than their brothers.[5]
    • Gender also influences eldest daughter syndrome through role modeling. If a daughter sees her mom overloaded with house tasks and organizing for the family, she may think that that’s how she should act, too.
    • The oldest daughter is sometimes forced to be a substitute for the mother. When the mom is too busy, the daughter steps in for her, leading to too many tasks for a kid to handle.
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Section 3 of 4:

How to Heal from Eldest Daughter Syndrome

  1. Step 1 Limit the tasks you’re responsible for.
    If you always plan your parent’s anniversary gift, and the family reunion, and give rides to and from the airport, take some of those responsibilities off your plate. Ask your siblings or other loved ones if they can take them over from you. You might be surprised at how willing they are to pitch in![6]
    • Prioritize your own needs before you try to please others. It’s good to help people, but not at the cost of your own well-being.[7]
    • Remember that it’s okay to say no. Set boundaries in your relationships so it’s clear what you can and can’t help with.
  2. Step 2 Learn to let loose and have fun!
    Create moments of playfulness and spontaneity in your life by scheduling time to dance, run, play games, or just lie in the grass at a park. This can help you learn that life isn’t always about being responsible.[8]
    • Take time to rest. Care for yourself by planning relaxation time, sleeping well, and having leisure activities that you enjoy.
  3. Step 3 Speak to yourself with love.
    Encourage your best efforts with positive self-talk. Compliment yourself for doing things well, and remind yourself that it’s okay when things don’t go right. This helps you override the negative messaging you received as a child about having to do everything perfectly for the family. [9]
  4. Step 4 Write a letter to your inner child.
    Some therapists say that there’s a part of you–your inner child–that’s still childlike and hurting from what happened to you as a kid. By thinking about who you were then and writing to them, you can process what you went through back then. Forgive your younger self, apologize to them, and think about how you can treat them better now. Bringing out your inner child also helps you bring back some of the childhood spirit you may have lost.[10]
    • If you don’t want to write a letter, just imagining yourself as a kid and thinking about what you would say to them now can help a lot.
    • By reflecting on your childhood self, you can learn more about your own lost inner child and potentially, help to heal your soul.
  5. Step 5 Talk with a therapist.
    Mental health professionals help us discover solutions to our problems in ways that work for us. Therapy will help you understand yourself and your family better. It can help you with perfectionism, anxiety, depression, or any other effects that your upbringing may have had on you.[11]
    • Even if you don’t have a big problem you’re facing, therapy can help you prioritize your mental well-being and enjoy your day-to-day life more.
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Section 4 of 4:

How to Help Eldest Daughters

  1. Step 1 Listen to her feelings and support her.
    The first step of helping is understanding what she’s going through. Ask thoughtful questions so that you know where she’s coming from. Listen without judgment.
    • Ask her how she feels about the responsibilities she has in her family and your relationship, how her parents and siblings treated her as a child, or what tasks or events make her feel overwhelmed.
    • Express your love and affection frequently, not just when she achieves a milestone or does something for you. This shows that your love is not conditional on anything she does.
  2. Step 2 Split household tasks evenly and appropriately.
    Don’t assume that a woman or girl will want to do the dishes or take care of kids. Share tasks evenly across the whole household, including cleaning, laundry, errands, and childcare, and have a conversation about what splitting tasks looks like for you.[12]
    • Having both partners alternate the same tasks as opposed to having completely different duties from each other can make the relationship feel more fair.[13]
    • Another option is to have each person do the chores that they enjoy, and trade off on who does the tasks no one likes. That way, everyone shares the burden.
  3. Step 3 Don’t overburden her.
    Be aware of how much is on her plate, and only ask her to do things that are appropriate for her schedule and ability to handle them.
    • Be willing to do extra tasks some days in order to prioritize her mental health. For her to heal, it’s important for her to experience a more understanding attitude towards responsibilities than her parents had.
    • Make an arrangement that she has a 'free pass' that she can cash in periodically to get out of a responsibility she doesn't feel like doing that day. This will show her that she is more important than any chores that need to get done.
  4. Step 4 Plan time for fun activities.
    Not everything is about chores and responsibilities! Spend quality time together to talk or do something you both enjoy. You should plan the activity so that she can relax and not worry about organizing everything.[14]
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