In my family, I am the youngest of three children, the baby, the “little” one, the last attempt at getting it right…AKA the one person in the family that everyone else tells what to do. Even growing up with an extremely supportive and loving family, this is a role that had it’s ups and downs but one that I learned to fully embrace. As a result, there are many benefits that I have found from being the baby of the family and ultimately being forced into doing certain things.
Including, but certainly not limited to:
- I have never been in the least bit claustrophobic. This is because I have been stuck in the middle seat of every type of vehicle ever since I can remember.
- I accept and often enjoy hand-me-downs. But word to the wise, for big item hand-me-downs, have your sibling write and sign a note stating that the object now belongs to you. Otherwise, they may try to take it back 5 years later by claiming that you stole it.
- I am highly skilled at going with the flow. As the youngest, everyone in your family thinks they have authority over you, so you have to learn to take direction, adjust easily, and roll with the (sometimes literal) punches.
(And I’m sure there are more traits that I have acquired due to my status as the youngest child, but I was just trying to focus on the ones that could be spun positively. :P)
As with all children that fall into any birth order, there are definite pluses and minuses that you enjoy or struggle with as a kid. For me, growing up as the last of three meant that I heard the phrases “you’re too young to understand” and “we’ll tell you when you’re older” on a pretty regular basis. Another one of my favorites was “ask Mom or Dad,” which was my sister’s response to when I asked what a virgin was while watching Clueless at probably too young of an age. But the big thing that was never told me to was at what point I would stop being “too young” and would finally reach that ever elusive “older” age. Depending on the topic, the time frame for my maturity and understanding would change…”you’ll get it once you are in high school,” “it will make sense when you get to college,” “you won’t understand until you’re 21,” and then “you have to be in the real world and working to know what we mean.” I remember being so anxious to grow up just because I wanted to be in the know and on the same level as the rest of my family. But honestly, even after I graduated college and got a real grown-up job, I still questioned if my family or even I, myself, would ever really see little ‘ole me as an actual adult.
Well logically, I’ve known that I am a full-fledged grown up, who is actually doing a pretty good job for herself. But the part of me that believed my sister when she said that if I did this one thing for her then she’d “be my best friend,” will always see myself as the baby of the family. However, despite that, the one thing that has been able to really make me feel like I am an adult and can make my own decisions is throwing caution to the wind, quitting my first big girl job, and moving to a new state for no actual reason. This was something that every member of my family had an opinion about but it did not matter to me. While I knew that all of my family’s questioning and unsolicited advice was to look out for my best interest, I had already made up my mind. As the youngest, I was constantly seeking the approval of my older siblings and parents, but not so much this time. I wanted their support, of course, but for the first time, what they thought was not a make or break factor for me anymore. And the funny thing now is that I have actually been praised by my family members for being brave and doing what I wanted to despite any of their precautionary warnings. I love and respect my family and their views, but I now know that this is my life and I am the main one affected by my decisions. So, when I dropped everything to move to a new city, I made this choice by myself and for myself, which truthfully is probably something I’d never done before.
So while you will always be the baby of the family, how your family views you is in reality, entirely up to you. I learned that, ultimately, the way to be treated like an adult is to just suck it up and actually act like one. What a concept, right?! But don’t worry, that doesn’t mean that your older siblings will stop trying to tell you what to do, or put you in headlocks, because at this point, it’s pretty much engrained in them to do so.