I’m the youngest in my family. I have one sister who is about two-and-a-half years older. Growing up, my sister and I would spend time building dollhouses in the living room, playing restaurant in our little kitchen, and putting on shows for our family (by the time we were five and seven years old, we had the song “Sisters” from the movie White Christmas memorized). Through the years, I learned a lot from her, and still do. When it comes to being the youngest, you learn from your siblings, while making your own path. Below are my reflections as the youngest sibling.
- You learn how to be a leader and a follower. Remember how I said we knew the words to “Sisters” at a young age? Well, we also knew the dance, and performed it at our yearly show in the living room. With these shows, I usually became the sidekick. From this experience, I learned how to work collaboratively with someone. I learned how to work with someone else’s ideas, and not only mine. Along with being a follower, as the youngest, I learned to be a leader. When I was younger, I made cards for my family. One day, I roped my sister into being my “assistant.” She helped me make cards for a grand total of 25 cents pay. This is just one of the many times I improved my leadership skills for the future.
- You learn everyone has their own way of doing things at a time that works for them. For youngest siblings everywhere, you have probably been told “You have to wait until you’re the same age as your sibling to get a….” This can be a cell phone, computer, etc. However, normally, younger siblings don’t wait as long as their older sibling did to get that item and that’s okay. Things come to a person at the time it’s meant to happen.
- You learn to be creative and funny. The youngest member of the family sometimes has to find their place in the family and not be overshadowed by older siblings. It can be hard to remember that one day you’ll have your first time driving when you see your sister taking the keys to the car and driving alone. One way we find our own place is by using humor. Research has shown that older siblings are more serious, while younger siblings are more relaxed and funny. One reason is because when the youngest is born, parents are calmer and more lenient. Also, you learn to be creative, and I’m not talking about being creative with hand-me-down clothes. Creativity comes from forming your own style and personality and setting your own path in life.
- You learn you’ll always have a friend in life. Call them your partners in crime, the ones you could blame the messy room on or the ones you can share your thoughts with—your older siblings will always be in your life. They were your first friends and will hopefully stay your friends throughout your life. You’ll create memories that only have a special meaning between your siblings and you. Yes, you and your siblings will have fights and disagree, but the good times will outweigh the bad. Plus, you’ll always have someone to look over you and you will do the same for them.
- You learn you may always be treated as the baby in the family, and that is not a bad thing. Sometimes it can be easier for the youngest, while other times it can be harder. However, there is one thing for sure, no matter how old you are, your family will always remember you as the baby and the last one to achieve certain milestones in life, such as walking, driving, and graduating from college.
Every child in the family has a special place and their own qualities and importance. As for being the youngest sibling, I can’t think of a better place to be and receive the lessons that go with it.
Article published in Forsyth Family Magazine.