Having An Elder Sibling Is Great But You’ve Got To Be A Self-Starter On Your Own

Caffeinated Thoughts
9 min readJun 15, 2022

Never be overdependent on a sibling for support.

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash


Having an elder sibling can be great. They act as beacons of hope, strength, and, courage when you’re trying to do great things with your life. They inspire you to aim and reach higher than what you originally thought was possible. They can be the pillars of strength that you lean on when times are hard and frustrating. And they’ll provide you with valuable insights into adult life which you couldn’t have possibly picked up anywhere else at such a young age.

But with all that being said and done, you’ve got to ultimately build a thick skin for yourself and move through different stages of life all on your own.

Your elder one isn’t going to be around to watch your back and inspire you to greatness forever. That’s something you’ll have to imbibe in yourself during your internship with your big “bro” or “sis” during all those formative years. The older they are, the more wisdom you stand to gain from them. So pay attention and learn from them as much as you can while they’re still around.

Guidance and support during childhood

As most younger siblings are aware, having an older one to watch your back and protect you, whether at school or play, was a priceless thing to have. Your elder one stood by your side when no one else would, taught you a few punches and kicks, and helped fend off the bullies as they came. They taught you lessons in confidence, self-respect, and maintaining your dignity.

Everyone at school knew you couldn’t mess with a kid if he had an elder brother as backup was always around the corner.

Having this kind of support during childhood is a great morale booster, and helps you walk with your head held high right from the start.

“Kids who are confident and have experience dealing with difficult situations are more likely to deflect comments from bullies.”

However, it would be pointless to let your big brother defend you every single time.

This is your life. You have to choose your battles wisely. And even within those battles, it’s you who’s got to make that decision on how to appropriately respond to the situation. Eventually, you’ll have to develop a thick skin for yourself and fight all these battles single-handedly.

“Even in adulthood, siblings can serve as a source of comfort when things don’t go as planned. Additionally, some evidence suggests that when siblings face adversity like bullying, divorce, or death, they become closer and function more as a team. So, when one sibling experiences bullying it could result in a tighter connection.”

The smarter ones amongst us ultimately imbibed themselves with these skills and stopped calling on their big brother for support.

Academic sportive and extracurricular achievements

When it came to academics, sports, or extracurricular activities at school, I had no one to look up to for support and inspiration.

While all my friends had their elder siblings to look towards for the necessary support and guidance — which can be so vital to later life success and prosperity — I had no one by my side. Having a strong pillar of support in the form of an elder brother or sister forms part of the holistic educational framework that a growing child is part of, which includes the education imparted by various institutions such as school, family, and society.

This greatly facilitates the comprehensive moulding of a child's personality into a well-rounded adult who is well equipped to take on all the challenges of adulthood.

Friends don’t inspire you the way siblings do. Especially siblings who have already won lots of accolades by the time their younger ones have made it to middle school.

Things are quite different when it’s one of your very own.

“Essentially, almost all younger siblings have the innate desire to mimic their older sibling, especially early in life, says Dr. Varedy. “They want to look like them, act like them and mostly want their approval,” she says. “And sometimes, they are getting more attention from siblings than even their parents so siblings become vital to them for their sense of self.”

Because when its your very own brother or sister who’s being studious, raising the bar of achievement, and winning the approval of his parents, the family pressure on you to aspire for the same naturally sets in. So you are not only inspired, motivated, and supported by your elder sibling to be ambitious, but also have the family pressure to do so.

A one-two punch of motivation + pressure if you ask me.

When family reputation is on the line, one feels naturally driven to outdo their siblings in life or at least be on par with them. When one family member wins, the “winner’s high” naturally courses through others in the family, and they are spurred on to achieve the same.

This can be a decisive factor in the overall success of the family in the long run.

However, as cool as being the elder sibling sounds it does come with its own downsides, as Richa Bharvesh writes in “Perks And Struggles Of Being The Elder Sibling”:

“There are days you want to be just like any other person, make mistakes, do something stupid or just let the steam off but then you know there are others watching. You are setting an example of how the younger ones should conduct themselves. It is overwhelming and frustrating at the same time.”

Having a role model right inside the family to look up to for support and inspiration is a priceless thing to have, and must be treasured for what it is. However, while elder siblings help you hit the ground running, they aren’t going to always be around and you’ll have to ultimately imbibe the winners attitude within yourself. You’ll have to learn how to hit the ground running without any kind of support or external motivation.

Sibling rivalry in childhood — Ego clashes in adulthood

As per CS Mott children's hospital, sibling rivalry starts when:

“Each child is competing to define who they are as an individual. As they discover who they are, they try to find their own talents, activities, and interests. They want to show that they are separate from their siblings.”

Sharing space with another can be a painful or learning experience. It all depends on how a parent or guardian deals with it. For example, when…

“When kids grow up with siblings, they learn that the world does not revolve around them. They have to share everything from the bathroom to the television remote, which requires communication and compromise.”

While hunger, boredom, or tiredness can be a few reasons for sibling rivalry during childhood, in adulthood it is altogether for a different set of reasons.

After all, the game has to be played on a whole new chess board.

Jealousy, competition, family attachment issues, money problems, relationship problems, career management, personal grudges, and typical adulthood frustrations all come together to comprehensively manifest as adulthood sibling rivalry.

“As grown-ups, tensions can mount over who is perceived as more happy or successful. The conflicts may be verbal. Think: sniping at each other with disdain or sarcasm.

If it goes beyond friendly bickering, this can take a toll on a person’s mental and emotional well-being. This is especially true if one sibling is more ready to get past it than the other. Some even cut all ties because they just can’t get along. And it probably didn’t start out of the blue.”

For this reason, it is vital to form healthy relationships with your siblings as you’re growing up and get on with each other amicably so that y’all don’t run into complicated adult issues later on.

Because when childhood disputes and misunderstandings are carried over to adulthood, things turn ugly real quick, and create a huge mess out of something that was very small and inconsequential to begin with.

Emotional support

While you always have a shoulder to cry on and a tender hand to caress your broken heart, that dynamic can instantly be flipped on its head when you have a fall-out with your sibling and have nowhere else to go to. This is why it is so important to learn how to regulate your emotions and not get too attached to your elder brother or sister.

When you fight, argue, and wrestle it out with the entire world, you’ll always find your sibling's shoulder to cry on.

But when you have an argument with your sibling itself, then where do you go?

“Scroll through online message boards and forums, and you’ll find a slew of stories. Grown-up brothers and sisters bicker. Push each other’s buttons. Steal money from one another. Play cruel pranks. Even physically fight. Some just squabble. Others cross the line into sibling abuse.”

A sibling's shoulder oozes emotional warmth. Their hugs envelop you in an aura of tender loving care. There’s no doubt that a supportive siblings presence is instrumental in shaping your overall personality through childhood and into adulthood.

But too much support can spoil you and turn you into an emotionally dependent person who has attachment issues as an adult.

A thoughtful elder sibling will not only teach you the value of his/her presence by providing mental and emotional support, but also distance himself/herself from certain situations and circumstances so that you can deal with them all on your own, picking up lessons that make you capable of handling such situations as an adult.


The downside of having an elder or younger achiever in the family is that the other sibling tends to take it easy. Dependencies can manifest as emotional, financial, or social support dependencies. When a sibling leans on you too much for support, much more than you can handle, you know it’s time to send them the memo and make sure they get the message.

This doesn’t happen all the time, but when it does, it strains relationships heavily and tears families apart. If you’re old enough, by now you might have come across at least a dozen families or so where the elder sibling is a runaway success and the younger one is a good for nothing bum, leeching off the success of his older brother or sister.

This is not only a drain on the emotional resources of the family, but for the economy of the country as you have a young, vibrant, youthful adult slacking it off in the dumps, wasting his youthful energy living under the shadow of his family and elder siblings. You not only lose a precious family member who has decided to find refuge in fantasy land instead of choosing to get out and participate in the real world, a country loses a valuable contributing citizen to the economy, who is just passively consuming resources without any inputs to society or accolades to show for his/her passive state of life.

This behaviour is so typical and common that Bollywood even chose to make a movie out of it.

Sometimes, getting pampered and cared for by your elder sibling can be too much of a good thing and can spoil you, leaving you incapable of dealing with the harshness of the world. A wise and thoughtful young one knows when they’ve overstayed their welcome, and when to finally leave the nest.

You should be independent and capable of standing on your own two feet as a a grown up adult, not childishly running towards your elder one when the injustices of the world become too hard to bear.


Having a support system in the form of an elder brother or sister right from the very beginning forms the foundation for a successful and prosperous life during adulthood.

Your elder sister could be the one who believed in you when no one else did.

They told you to go ahead with that business idea when it didn’t sound cool, and no one else from the family was willing to stand by your side.

They told you to sign up for that audition when no one else had faith in your abilities.

They covered up your tracks when you were at risk of being admonished by your parents.

They gave you their shoulder to cry on when you had your first break-up.

They acted as lighthouses in the stormy seas. They were your beacons of hope and strength when there was darkness all around, and all you could feel was hopelessness and despair.

They imparted life lessons to you that nobody else ever could.

Treasure them while they’re still around. But also learn to stand on your own two feet.



Caffeinated Thoughts

No niche in particular. I am a keen observer of society and gain my inspiration for new articles from observation.