I was taken a back to my childhood when several users on social media described the horrors of being a first-born daughter in an African home. The first-born daughters, whom we affectionately referred to as our deputy parents, seem to have lost every aspect of their childhood as a result of them filling in as parents.
I remember being relieved that whenever we made a mistake at home, my sister, a first-born daughter, was the one who had to bear the brunt of the blame. Now I'm thinking about how much harm that must have caused my sister.
Most First-born daughters are raised with the idea that they have to look after their siblings, bear responsibility for the actions of their younger siblings, worry about other siblings. On top of all of that, they are not really allowed to be children most of the time, and are forced to hide their negative feelings and are mostly invalidated by their parents.
First-born children are entrusted with responsibility before they even understand what parenting is. Being chastised for the errors of others, being forced to become role models at home and outside the home (i.e. expected to perform well in school so that younger siblings can follow in their footsteps). There was a lot shared, but looking at this alone, it is clear that this is a huge responsibility and expectation to place on a child.
But unfortunately, these horrors even extend to other children, who might not be first born but happen to be in a home where they happen to be the eldest. The same fate befalls them.
This new generation of parents must do better in a way that parents must understands how to properly raise a child as a child. This generation should not make the same mistakes as our parents. We must learn to let children be children.