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In honour of the first born

Consider that the family is the cell, the basic unit of society, and usually it’s the first-born girl who’s helping to hold it all together.

In Filipino families especially, the Big Sister (“Ate” is the proper honorific) is second in command when it comes to household management and child care. She’s expected to give a good example and make all the younger ones toe the line. In exchange for these awesome responsibilities, the Ate wields power and commands respect – sometimes even fear. (My younger brothers still flinch when I make any sudden moves in their direction.) At the same time, I also enjoy the pleasure and the privilege of being my siblings’ confidante, counselor, and – now that we’re all adults – their friend.

I think there should be a First Born Girls Appreciation Day, don’t you?

I’m reading a book called The First Born Advantage by Dr. Kevin Leman, who has done extensive studies as to how our birth order affects our lives and personalities. Dr. Leman has such a great appreciation for the strengths and abilities of the firstborn child, yet also has great insights about our potential weaknesses. I like his encouraging, positive tone, and practical suggestions as to how we first-borns can change some of our attitudes and habits in order to be even stronger and happier.

In the book he also features a group called the First Born Girls Social Club, an interesting and vibrant group of first born women “dedicated to discovering, sharing and celebrating the unique contribution that first born girls make to the world!” Sounds like fun – I think I just might join!

“People refer to us as bossy, but we are number one on speed dial if someone is in crisis or wants a project done to tight specifications. We know how to take charge and move through work. We know what to say and do to solve the problem. It comes naturally to us. It’s what we’ve been primed to do since day one. The firstborn’s slogan is: ‘I’ll take care of that for you.’…

“Responded to voices in the womb. Walked at 6 months. Spoke in complete sentences before age 1….Inspiration for three photo albums by age 8….

“You are pretty, smart, talented, and wise beyond your years.

“You love and are loved. You do everything and you do it well.

“If this is your history, then you are a firstborn girl.”

~ Laura Carter, founder of the First Born Girls Social Club

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3 thoughts on “In honour of the first born

  1. Macks, I must say that you stand out amongst the first-born females. Yes, you command your siblings respect & sometimes fear like most of the first-born "Ate's", but not only do you find solution to your siblings' problems, you do your "job" with a smile. And you feed them, too… food for the soul & body! Most of the first-born females are so stressed out because of their responsibility as the first-born daughter, they hardly have time to lend a shoulder for even their siblings to cry on. Everything becomes so systematic for them, i.e., "what's the problem? here's the solution" kind of thing (not a very heart-warming treatment of the situation). But you – you actually lead them to a happy disposition in life because you help them with a smile. The fact that you enjoy & take pleasure in being your siblings' confidante & friend, the fact that THEY would even consider you to be their confidante and friend, despite being their "Ate"…! That proves to show that you're not just doing a job that you were born with, but that you actually care…. Proof to my claim: I just have to look at Cookie, Billy, Chibi & Sashi and how they have grown to be the good people they are now. I hope that someday, your siblings will know the difference between you & other first-born Ate's… then they will be doubly thankful for having you :-). I am so proud of you, Macky!

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