The Golden Child

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Julia Goulet

It’s easy for siblings to compare themselves to one another, but once they realize they have their own strengths, it becomes easier to be less competitive (Photo courtesy of Julia Goulet).

Have you ever felt like no matter how much you excel in your life, it will never be good enough in the eyes of your parents, simply because your siblings have accomplished bigger and better things? 

“My sister and I are super close, so the pressure that others put on us never affected us. She always sets high standards though, so I do my best to keep it going,” said junior Brigitte Pinochet.

While growing up, it’s common for siblings to develop a competitive nature with one another. It begins with playing tag or being the first to the dinner table but ultimately evolves into much deeper, more significant things. 

Especially when you’re the younger sibling, it seems you are expected to live up to the achievements of your older siblings, regardless  if you want to accomplish them or not. It occurs frequently in school; if an older sibling earned a high grade in a class, it is expected that when the younger one gets to that class, they will not only meet the expectation but exceed it.  If the older sibling ends up with the lower grade, then resentment slowly forms between them, causing a rift, and the competitive nature intensifies. This example doesn’t specifically apply to school either; it can essentially be applied to any situation. 

“Personally, I think I set those expectations for myself because my family would never put that kind of pressure on me. I don’t feel like I need to live up to my sister in a negative way, but I do compare my GPA and SAT/ACT scores to [my sister’s] and challenge myself to get around the same,” said junior Natalie DeRosa. 

A lot of the time, the kids aren’t the ones to be blamed for these actions. Parents inadvertently influence this kind of behavior by showing praise to one child if they do well, or disappointment to another if they perform poorly. Because of this, the siblings are fighting for their parents’ approval by attempting to overshadow the other. 

“My parents did a pretty good job at not comparing me to my older brothers, but I sometimes feel the need to stick out better with my grades and standardized test scores,” said junior Ana Sallurday. 

However, competitiveness can be avoided. When the children and parents understand that they were born with different strengths, and excel at some things more than others, then they can be okay with knowing they won’t always “be” their siblings. This, in turn, decreases the dog-eat-dog mentality, creating a healthier environment for everyone. 

“I got involved in a lot of extracurriculars that she began first, but we both genuinely enjoyed doing them together, and both succeeded in our own ways,” said Pinochet.