Marie Claire - UK
Siblings Relationships Family Lifestyle Image Credit: Marie Claire - UK
Siblings Relationships Family Lifestyle Image Credit: Marie Claire - UK

How Sibling Status Shapes Your Life

Our predetermined place in the family influences our adult lives, personalities and relationships. Stuart Heritage reports on the first label we’re born with and why it’s a struggle to reverse preconceived ideas about you.

Stuart Heritage

My little brother Pete tried to stab me once. About 20 years ago, I embarrassed him in front of his friend, so he grabbed a kitchen knife and came for me. He didn’t actually stab me, obviously, because I’d locked him in our kitchen, so all he could do is swish the knife underneath the door in the hope of connecting with my ankle. But he definitely tried to stab me.

It’s no fun being the oldest sibling. Sure, it looks like we’ve got it easy – we enjoyed years of undivided parental attention that our younger siblings didn’t – but look at it from our perspective. We’re out there leading from the front, without a blueprint, making all the mistakes first-hand. We discovered school first, got bad haircuts first, tripped up romantically first. All a younger sibling has to do is watch, learn and smile gratefully when they inherit our old clothes. But instead they just complain about us being ‘the favourite child’.

This is my whole life, to the extent that I’ve written a book about it. Entitled Don’t Be a Dick, Pete, it details all the ways my younger brother lashed out against the world because of the constant unfavourable comparisons to me: the golden boy who arrived just when my parents thought they’d lost their last shot at parenthood. I did well at school; he bunked off a lot. I obeye

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