Healing From Within – Eldest Daughters Harness their Strengths
Host: Sheryl Glick R.M.T.
Special Guest: Lisette Schuitemaker
In today’s episode of “Healing from Within”, your host Sheryl Glick author of The Living Spirit which shares spiritual awakenings spiritual awareness of human nature spiritual communication healing energies and our search for improving life welcomes Lisette Schuitemaker, author of The Eldest Daughter Effect. Lisette, who is the eldest of four, lives and works in Amsterdam, the Netherlands and is the founder of a communications agency which she sold and then went on to obtained a degree from the Brennan Healing Science School. Lisette has a private energy healing practice and also serves as Chair of the Center of Human Emergence, in the Netherlands. We will discuss today the characteristics and possible advantages of being an eldest daughter and also the possible challenges.
Sheryl wonders what gave Lisette the idea for this book. Lisette writes, “My friendship with Wies a mother of two and Lisette, a mere aunt looked very different and have shaped their lives differently yet have found after 30 years a remarkable similarity ..both are eldest daughters. This position within our families has shaped us to a large degree and this has been a stunning discovery. We have become aware of underlying patterns that we share with millions of other eldest daughters…This is a first book for eldest daughters by eldest daughters.”
Lisette tells us her book is written by an eldest daughter and includes scientific studies where Lisette had interviewed many eldest daughters including a number of well know eldest daughters so we can see patterns and established behaviors that cross ethnic religious national and social structures to show the human side of this phenomenon.
There are five characteristics eldest daughters share. Certain qualities are not as individual as we had first thought. An extraordinary sense of responsibility, a tendency to take the lead, a fear of making mistakes, being hard hit by criticism and caring for others to the point of exhaustion—these are all qualities that eldest daughters typically display. Many eldest daughters grow into hands on caring dutiful women because these traits were fostered in them as the first born.
Sheryl says…. “I am the second born 4 I/2 years younger than my older sister who seemed distant from me because of the age difference. I have a sister 2 years younger than me, but I functioned as an elder child to that sister. I have all the qualities you just described as the eldest daughter and I actually took care of my parents when they were older while my older sister was only moderately available…however she did care for a husband who needed help.”
Eldest daughters are the ones who make their parents into parents…As the eldest, you enjoy undivided attention for everything you do. …Your parents wish to get it right and feel insecure because you are a first for them. Parents bring their own education and family values or traditions with them…..Parents often have unrealistically high expectations of their firstborn. This can either work to make the child insightful loving and observant or somewhat spoiled and intolerant even narcissistic.
Angela Merkel, Hillary Clinton, Christine Lagard, Oprah Winfrey, Sheryl Sandberg, JK Rowling, and Beyonce are all first born children and first born children really do excel, but that may have little to do with innate intelligence and more to do with the expectations and doting of their parents and the help they are expected to share with responsibilities for the care of the home and other siblings. This could add to their anxiety, self-doubt, and be a motivating force for overachievement at the expense of other satisfying developments.
First born children were more than 7 percent more likely to aspire to stay on in education than younger siblings and firstborn girls are 15 percent more ambitious than firstborn boys.
In an article, “The Science of Superiority; Why is the First Born the Smartest” , there is a recent study by the American Bureau of Economic Research that says first born children do better at school than their younger siblings. It may be argued that the oldest children do better at school because they grow smarter by teaching their younger siblings. If you can teach, you can value the power of knowledge and first children usually have both parents as divorce often happens further down the road.
The eldest develop an above average intelligence as was shown in a Norwegian study published in 2007…Average IQ is between 90 and 100. This study shows a two to 3 point higher score. He goes on to calculate that a 2.3 IQ score difference means the oldest child is thirteen percent higher chance of having above average intelligence than a second born in family.
Dr. Peter Kristensen who led this Norwegian study is a second child himself and did not want to attach an ounce of credibility to the theory of the effects of birth order.
Sheryl Says….. “The difference may actually be seen in the fact that the eldest often received more focused attention for the earliest part of their life even more love perhaps. But a demanding second child could also make their presence known and personality character and intelligence can make a child more favored for attention rather than birth order.”
Lisette writes that some first born daughters actually cave in under the pressure and expectations they feel from their parents and if they feel they cannot live up to the expectations they would rather give up before getting started. This choice may lead to a life full of more or less deliberate failures and missed opportunities. During our research several second born daughters told us stories of how the older sister always ended up sabotaging their lives. Stubbornness stopped them from overcoming the obstacles. More often second daughters assumed the role of the serious achiever ..Case with Sheryl…..All in all differences between the eldest and second born can be amazing and substantially different. Even in identical twins sharing 100% of their DNA there are huge differences in personality. While siblings grow up together, Dr. Kevin Lehman has seen that the second child typically shoots off in a different opposite direction from the firstborn. The eldest will usually identify with the parents who they had an exclusive time together with. The eldest has learned the ropes turned into a little policeman who makes sure the others obey. Number 2 however as the new kid on the block has to carve out their own place and while the oldest may be obedient and good because that makes her feel cherished and safe. the second child will tend towards rebellion. Chances are the second will have to get included into the triangle of the mother father child dynamic by standing out and this could be in a negative or challenging way…crying getting sick etc. Sheryl confirms that as the second child she often conformed to the patterns just mentioned.
If the second child then becomes a middle child a new dynamic appears…they are now dethroned like an eldest daughter and out of necessity may develop into little diplomats who are able to come up with clever compromises. They are not dominant like the first or cute like the youngest but they teach themselves to listen carefully and be flexible and tolerant. Middle children often grow up into loyal, kind people. Personality tests reveal that middle children tend to get along amicably with most people
Sheryl as a second and middle child can attest to that statement as most accurate..In school my parents were told when I was in sixth grade that I would be the best of their daughters and in looking at how life has worked out for my family…for my parents and sisters I have been helpful to them all.
While writing The Eldest Daughters, some of these discoveries were made: Parents are happiest around the birth of their first child. Parents tend to expect that their little miracle will outperform statistics and parents are more careful in the handling of a first born than they are with later children. It may be that the undivided attention is what makes eldest children more intelligent and generally speaking eldest children will be better at verbal communication than the others. Often eldest children tend to be more eager to learn than other children and perform better at school. However, if by being harsh with their eldest child parents hope to set an example for the rest this can be damaging to the self esteem and confidence of the eldest daughter and not a good practice.
Eldest daughters often turn out to be leaders. Many eldest daughters will perennially think that whatever they do it will never be enough. As an eldest daughter in all kinds of ways consciously and unconsciously, your parents will give you many responsibilities.
Lisette believes parents, educators, therapists, and families, with numerous siblings could get a handle on the interactions between how our vision of our children influence their development in many obvious and also subtle ways…as a parent it is important to increase your understanding of your children’s many emotional physical and spiritual needs so this book is filled with insights and scientific studies along with comments of successful people and you can gather awareness from their comments into the nature of their need or desire for achievement.
Lisette mentions to Sheryl how she did her research for her book. “To start our research, we organized a day exclusively for eldest daughter and over one hundred women of all ages attended this Eldest Daughter Day in Amsterdam in March 2014. We gathered stories and information and followed the steps of the Grounded Theory, the method also used by Brene Brown bestselling author and yes, eldest daughter. This relatively new way of working systematically with qualitative data wants not to have a hypothesis that you find evidence for, but to do exactly the opposite.. You start with as much of a clean slate as possible. The underlying idea is that the fewer assumptions, the more open you will be to what people are going to say about the topic of research and this method predicts that when you categorize the conversations you will start to see patterns. You will see storylines that present themselves over and over again. We ran into 5 major qualities that the eldest daughters all described to some degree and that siblings described when referring to their older sister. Then we went to literature and books by psychologists who acknowledge the influence of birth order. We read autobiographies of eldest daughters. Our experience is that birth order merits further research.”
Sheryl Sandberg author of Lean In, Women Work and the Will to Lead and Facebook’s CEO is the eldest of three and quotes that recent research done in the US shows that parents tend to talk more with their daughters than with their sons. Boys are generally allowed to go off on their own to play at an earlier age than girls. The sons also tend to be given instructions on how to behave while the daughters are engaged in conversation. More conversations with girls focus on emotional content and they develop a greater vocabulary of feeling.
Lady Gaga as a eldest daughter wrote… “I am focused on the work. I am constantly creating. I am a busy girl. I live and breathe my work. I love what I do. I believe the message. There’s no stopping.”
Whoppi Goldberg wrote… “My brother was an amazing cat. He was the funny one in the family.”That seems to be said with love and not a sadness or a feeling that she didn’t possess that quality.
Christine Lagarde “My father passed away after a debilitating disease. As the eldest, I had to support my mother and my brothers. So there was empowerment that resulted from his passing, and terrible sorrow and grief, which never goes away.”
Meryl Streep wrote.. “You don’t have to be famous. You just have to make your mother and father proud of you….Perhaps that simple statement shows why her success seems so natural and easy for her as she felt loved by her parents and comfortable in their acceptance of her.”
Lisette shows us that “Being the eldest daughter might show us that the Leader who grows out of a firstborn is not by definition a natural talent, some may of course be, but chances are circumstances have forced them to become more resolute. Having lost your position on the throne and being the full focus of your parents attention creates a need for you to take control and find ways to be seen and paid attention to. Also eldest daughters are often categorized as one of two: the leader or the carer or pleaser. The leader is the one who loves to be in charge. The carer, or pleaser is always engaged in making others happy.”
As an eldest daughter you might be unaware of your bossiness. You think it is your right to take on the lead: it makes you feel that you are someone, that you matter. Perhaps under the act is a bit of insecurity and sadness out of the responsibilities and high expectation that your parents have for you.
Yet as an eldest daughter you might unconsciously have drawn the conclusion that you could win your parents over by being good to others. You love nothing better than to fuss around and you aim for peace and harmony. If your mother was ill, you might have tried to make dinner for the family…you might have tried to get high marks at school because this pleases your father. You try to do good for everyone and only later will you find out you have set yourself an impossible task.
First and foremost, you seek the approval of your father and mother: later you seek the approval from people around you with a certain degree of authority. Eldest daughters with a critical father and or mother run the risk of becoming insecure about their place in their place in the world.
Even with looking at the birth order to understand and determine development personality and emotional responses, it is necessary to understand the temperament and genetic codes each sibling is born with, and also the fact that willingly or unwillingly, parents treat each child differently, and thus stimulate a different development to take place. Parents may try to love their children equally, but unknowingly, click more easily with those that have similar traits to themselves.
Lisette Schuitemaker, author of The Eldest Daughter Effect has shared an insightful look at how birth order in the family establishes many conditions that may or may not foster self confidence and self-esteem so parents and teachers may use this knowledge to balance the positive and or negative effects for greater efficacy in personal development.
We have seen how still another factor plays a role in our perception of ourselves, our families, and our environment, either fostering positive or negative realities as we face the arduous process of learning more about the Universal forces of life and how to apply wisdom to our views, so we may prosper and thrive no matter what challenges we face.
Lisette wrote “There is no escaping this fact…one day will be our last. Before that fateful day you may be close to your siblings physically and emotionally or more distant but you are family forever. Running into one another on the metaphorically family dance floor wittingly or unwittingly you will step on each other’s toes…..Family is like a dance floor where each dancer continually has to find space to express themselves. The role you played as first in the birth order and the way as siblings have shaped one another to become part of you. You remain inseparably connected to those you grew up with. Remember in times of trouble no matter the distance of differences you may have the elastic band of old draws the family back together.”
Lisette and Sheryl would have you remember to think fondly of the past, move past the mistakes of self or others, and without blame accept that your soul chose your family. Without focusing on good or bad your family provided experiences for you to see the world and yourself in continuing new ways for growth.