Students reflect on growing up according to birth order

The 2009 television sitcom “The Middle” follows a middle-class family navigating life’s obstacles and challenges. On the show, the oldest child always receives lectures about responsibility, the middle child is always left to figure things out by herself and the youngest is always guided by his parents. 

These themes are portrayed heavily throughout popular media and are considered the authentic depictions of birth order. While some children can relate to this, others feel it is not how they grew up. 

Senior Courtney Vankinscott felt that growing up as the oldest of two boys taught him a strong sense of responsibility. 

Vankinscott’s parents always expected him to take on a leadership role and be a positive example for his younger brother. 

“It was tough being the oldest child sometimes,” he said. “I was always told to lead by example because my younger brother was always watching me.” 

This molded Vankinscott as a confident leader and helped him in his current career path of real estate.

Vankinscott’s parents also expected him to do his best in everything, including school. 

“Academic standards weren’t too high, but they expected me to graduate and do well in school,” he said. “I wasn’t pushed to have straight As, but I certainly couldn’t bring home any Cs either.”

Society traditionally portrays middle children as somewhat forgotten, generally not receiving as much attention as the oldest or the youngest. This idea is illustrated in pop culture through characters like Jan Brady, the middle child on “The Brady Bunch.” 

Sophomore Zaria Byars is a middle child, growing up with all boys. Despite how society portrays middle children, Byars begs to differ.  

“Growing up, me and my mom are super close,” she said. “We would go out to eat [and] get our hair and nails done together.” 

Her two oldest brothers moved out very early in Byars’ life, leaving her with her youngest brother.

When it came to discipline, Byars’ parents were not as tough on her as they were with her other siblings. 

“My parents were always harder on my other siblings because they had more behavioral or academic problems,” she said. “I was always a good kid, so they were never really that hard on me.”

The academic standards placed on Byars were that she always had to make at least a B average.

Byars recalls the only time ever making a grade that was lower than a B. 

“In middle school, [I made] a ‘C’ in one of my classes, and my parents pushed me every day to bring that grade up,” she said. 

Society views younger children to have somewhat entitled attitudes, able to get away with every wrongdoing.  

Georgia State senior Keyvonte Nash felt that growing up the youngest of 11 children is not what it is painted out to be. 

Nash faced hardships, including waiting in long lines to go to the bathroom, getting in heated arguments or disagreements with his siblings and never getting to hang out or do fun things with the big kids. 

“I felt that I always got more leniency from my parents compared to my other siblings, but only when it came to arguments or disagreements,” he said. “Despite the leniency, I still was expected to do my best at everything.”

Nash’s parents set the academic bar very high for him despite being the youngest and would discipline him when he didn’t meet those expectations. 

“If I didn’t receive good grades in school, I wasn’t allowed to do a lot of things,” he said. “These things included going outside with my friends, playing football and even watching television.” 

Vankinscott felt that growing up as the oldest taught him responsibility, but Byars received a lot of attention from her parents despite being the middle child. Nash felt that although he was the youngest, his parents were still hard on him.    

According to these three students’ insight, society’s portrayal of siblings’ differences is not representative of everyone’s experience.