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Eldest Daughter Syndrome Breaking the Internet

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Eldest Daughter Syndrome

It’s a phrase that has recently broken the internet, but any first-born daughter may be all too familiar with the meaning behind “eldest daughter syndrome.”

While not an official medical term, the phrase is used to describe the emotional weight that first-born daughters often carry in their family dynamics. Although it is not a new concept, this widely recognized phenomenon has recently gained traction on the internet, with many identifying and even joking about their personal situations. One such eldest daughter tweeted, “If you identify as the eldest daughter, you may be entitled to compensation.”

While numerous studies have dissected birth order stereotypes, “eldest daughter syndrome” essentially boils down to the “the unique pressures and responsibilities placed onto the oldest daughter in the family” who often take on the role of eldest sibling and additional parent. 

Molly M. Fox, PhD, from the Department of Anthropology at the University of California, Los Angeles, highlights the historical fact that it was the standard throughout much of history for eldest daughters to lend a helping hand in the family. First-born daughters tend to mature faster and thus, are leaned upon to help in rearing their younger siblings. 

Research has pointed out that those who relate to the “eldest daughter syndrome” typically have an intense feeling of responsibility, are typically overachievers, have more-than-average anxiety, are people-pleasers and struggle with placing boundaries. Researchers did not find the same results in males or daughters who were not first-born. Additionally, this term is more relevant to a first-born daughter that has younger siblings. 

While the current jokes trending on the internet are mostly in the negative realm, “eldest daughter syndrome” can result in a multitude of positives, such as those daughters more likely to end up in leadership positions with strong priority management, nurturing skills and resilience. The skills that they had to utilize while growing up with , and taking care of, their younger siblings are ones that are now easily transferable to facets in their adult life. Eldest daughters are also more likely to succeed more over their siblings. 

While “eldest daughter syndrome” is a colloquial term, scientific evidence does point to parental expectations, sibling relationships and societal pressures that give significant weight to this trending term. 

Stereotypically, firstborn children tend to be reliable and high-achieving; middle children are sociable and rebellious and youngest children are the most charming. While birth order is certainly not a definite answer to one’s personality, and cannot be scientifically proven, anyone with brothers and sisters may feel like this all hits a little too close to him. 


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