The Many Sufferings Of A Firstborn

Before his/her arrival, most couple are in high expectations, with any little delay in getting pregnant raising anxiety. At the sight of the protruding belly, friends, families, relatives and colleagues are happy. After 9 months when the bundle of joy finally gets here the joy of everyone related to the couple will be full as their first fruit arrives.


A little over a year or two after, the second born is here and then the suffering of the first born begins. Just like it is when a man finds new love all attention in most cases shifts to the second born. As they grow together many parents unknowingly start giving the second born powers over the first. As the first born is playing with his/her toys the second born comes and snatches it from him or her, as he/she is about to take back his/her toy that’s when the mother or father comes in and the firstborn lands into trouble, God help him if the second born starts crying as soon as he/she sees either of the parents.


That is when you hear, so you cannot share abi? Don’t you know he/she is your brother/sister? Give the toy to your sister/brother and go to your room to finish your assignment. Some parents might even say share with him/her and after a while you take it back. Now what signal is that sending to the second born, that he/she is powerful? To many parents they think they are training the firstborn this way, but na lie they are making him depressed! Why not let the firstborn decide if he/she wants to share, after all doesn’t even God himself tells us He wants a cheerful giver?


Or take this scenario, the firstborn is playing, jumping around the house, then the second born joins him/her. Few minutes into the play the second born falls, hearing the sound of the fall and the loud cry that follows the mother or father rushes out, what happened, the firstborn honestly says I was jumping and he too was jumping then he/she fell, the next thing is “poka”, igbajuoloyi (dirty slap) being given to the firstborn, don’t you know you are the eldest and whatever you do your sister/brother will do! Then they start placating the second born who is by now crying in auto-gear 7. As the firstborn is revving his cry you hear, did I beat you, did I? Wait for me let me finish with your sister/brother I am coming to meet you.


With this scenario playing overtime, you find most firstborns being too quiet, dull, depressed and already hating their parents and siblings. As they grow, sibling rivalry escalates. The firstborn in most cases won’t be doing well in his/her grades as his/her self-esteem is weakened by the dominance of the second born. He/she is compared with his siblings. You hear parents saying Lagbaja is too dull but Tamedo is very sharp and they keep celebrating the second born. If they are up to four, then the third and fourth born also gets celebrated. In some houses the firstborn is doing the chores while the second is watching TV or playing games.


He/she keeps bearing the brunt for upwards of 25-35 years till they leave the house to be on their own. His/her pace is slow, the second born is moving at a fast speed. He/she has more attention and love than the firstborn. The parents are worried about the slow pace of the firstborn, while they are concerned genuinely, they still go ahead to say all sorts of injurious things to the firstborn. You are too slow, see your brother/sister he/she has finished school you are still there gallivanting – Olodo (dullard) and all other dirty words that parents use. Forgetting they caused it. All children are brilliant and sharp if you give them the enabling environment and you let children be children.


But God knowing fully well, that the “head shall not become the tail” understands the plight of the firstborn and continues to prepare him/her for what lay ahead. All children are now grown up, married and doing well. Parents have retired and are now dealing with pensions and gratuity issues including old age sickness. Most times parents lean on the firstborn if he/she is doing well and occasionally reach out to the second born who by now are very arrogant and rude (no offense meant)—they are used to the growing up years when their parents had given them free reign over the firstborn. If the firstborn were to be a “nobody” I pity him, aiye ma su (life will be meaningless). The second born hardly respects the firstborn in most cases, you already see the attitude in them except God ‘’lifts up’’ the firstborn very well!


Agreed not all families have this especially in families where the mother and father are able to quickly understand these dynamics and nip them in the bud. The responsibility of taking care of their parent’s rests on the firstborn majorly (again that is if he has the resources), otherwise if the second born has more “coins” then the second becomes the first. If they are four and out of the four, it is the third or lastborn that has more money, then he/she automatically becomes the firstborn, trust me, many parents are that selfish. Owonikoko! (Money is the real deal).


Even when everyone is seated and the lastborn with money isn’t around when a family meeting is called, they will say let us wait for him to come.But if the firstborn were to be capable, what you hear is I have told your siblings to call you, so tell them when you will be available and let me know.


To be a firstborn in this clime no get part 2 but I am writing part 2 of this article soon. Part 1 is to jump start an honest conversation on how firstborns are treated and raised in many Nigerian families. This is not to paint the second born as bad but to ask for equity and fairness in how children are raced.


Am I making sense? Please don’t ask me if I am a firstborn….… Laughs!


Oyebisi Babatunde Oluseyi is the Executive Director of the Nigeria Network of NGOs (NNNGO) and for many years been an internationally respected authority on the growth of civil society. He has over 10 years of experience as a senior policy analyst and strategist on addressing diverse development challenges of the African policy landscape. He serves and has served on the Board of many companies and civil society organisations including Society for Family and Social Protection in Nigeria.

Source: Above Whispers

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12 Responses to The Many Sufferings Of A Firstborn

  1. Lilian Godsgift January 24, 2019 at 1:06 pm

    This got me teary. I can relate sir. Thank you for speaking this truth.

    • Oyebisi January 30, 2019 at 5:07 pm

      Happy you found it useful and to be the “truth”

  2. Nelson January 24, 2019 at 1:14 pm

    God bless you for sharing this and i hope lots of parents would read this and listen. I think parenting in Africa is very selfish.

    • Oyebisi January 30, 2019 at 5:08 pm

      Thanks Nelson for taking out time to read the article. I hope parents see a sense as you have said.

  3. Chinedu January 25, 2019 at 4:19 pm

    Only a first born can really relate. I suffered a lot as a child and intend to do it differently with my children. Thank you sir. Your articles always speak to the mind and faces thorough reality. I am a big fan.

    • Oyebisi January 30, 2019 at 5:09 pm

      Awwwwww, thanks for being a fan! Yes please work hard to parent your children differently.

  4. Emelda Joseph January 25, 2019 at 4:22 pm

    I followed it through as i saw it on facebook. I had to read and comment. I am the first born of the family and i can relate with everything here. I was slow, my mum always complained about me but thank God, i discovered myself later in life and now I have the respect of my siblings. Some of these things brought back old memories that brought tears to my eyes. I am sure you are a First born yourself.

    • Oyebisi January 30, 2019 at 5:11 pm

      Awwwwww…. I am glad you have found yourself and that you now have the respect of your siblings. Watch out for part 2 of my article to know if I am a first born… lol

  5. Lawrence Oboson December 25, 2019 at 2:13 am

    Family politics is real in the nuclear home, let alone the polygamous one. Thanks for taking your time to give us a deep analysis.

  6. Amusu Ireti December 26, 2019 at 9:31 pm

    Though I am not a first born but third, but I carry the responsibility of the first bone. It can only be God. Thanks for the write up.

  7. Amusu Ireti December 26, 2019 at 9:35 pm

    Though I am not a first born but third, but I carry the responsibility of the first bone. It can only be God. Thanks for the write up. I sit and wait for my elders ones before decisions are taken. I don’t let it get to my head.

  8. Shade Toyin-Kehinde December 28, 2019 at 11:47 am

    I am second born but I can relate. You’re really making sense Sir.


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