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What Is Eldest-Daughter Syndrome? How to Deal with it?

Shout out to all the elder daughters in the house! You’ve got “it” all, you know how to manage home, siblings, school, and other chores. I am the younger daughter of the house and all of my life I have observed my elder sibling craving for love or support! She always mentions elder daughter syndrome as a real thing; however,

I never tried to understand the concept behind “elder daughter syndrome” until and unless I observed my elder sister struggling with mental health issues. This blog covers eldest daughter syndrome, its symptoms, challenges, coping techniques, and more.

So, let’s get started!

What is Eldest Daughter Syndrome?

Eldest daughter syndrome (EDS) is a term used to describe pressures and responsibilities taken by the eldest daughter of the house. It is specifically used to describe oldest daughters who have to take up unique pressures or responsibilities in order to take care of their siblings or family members. In short, eldest daughters often become bonus parents of their younger siblings.

This condition can also be clearly seen in birth order personalities wherein Adler mentioned older children of the family have persistent leadership skills, a sense of responsibility, and high self-esteem. They tend to be more mature as they have to take up younger sibling’s responsibilities before they can even understand. Their parents have placed higher expectations on them which makes them less reliable, more controlling, and authoritative.

Eldest daughter syndrome is not an official mental health diagnosis as it is not listed yet in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health Disorders 5th Edition Updated Version (DSM-5-TR). Additionally, there’s less research based on eldest daughter syndrome on the internet.

Why Are People Talking About Eldest Daughter Syndrome on the Internet?

Prior, a very small number of people recognized the struggles of eldest daughters. The concept of eldest daughter syndrome came into the limelight in 2022 when someone on TikTok initiated the trend of eldest daughter videos. Elder daughter syndrome went viral on TikTok and people talked about the struggles or challenges of older daughters openly on the platform. Some of them directly mentioned,

“I am the eldest daughter of the house and sometimes I feel attacked by everyone” or “I am the eldest daughter of the house and of course, I take care of my younger siblings without being acknowledged or seen.” The social media platforms flooded with eldest daughters complaining, acknowledging, showing, navigating, or coping with their challenges within a few days.

The fact is that such videos are still trending and people are actually coming up with more content related to eldest daughters. We all have seen a viral TikTok video of Khloe Kardashian expressing, “What you want, Robert? More money? A cheque? A car? My soul?”

Symptoms of Eldest Daughter Syndrome

If you think you or your elder sister or daughter might be struggling with eldest daughter syndrome, check the below-mentioned symptoms of eldest daughter syndrome:

  • Anxiety or depression
  • Burden of expectations and peer pressure
  • Feelings of guilt
  • Intense feelings of pressure or responsibility
  • Intense worrying and anxiety
  • Lack of healthy boundaries with other family members
  • People-pleasing behaviors
  • Perfectionism
  • Unable to form healthy relationships with people
  • Unable to form control
  • Unknown resentment or rage
  • Recognize as overachiever personality (Type A personality)
  • Seeks constant reassurance

Parentification and Oldest Daughter Syndrome: Are They The Same?

Some people relate parentification with oldest daughter syndrome because of the same descriptions. Parentification generally occurs when a child is forced to take up parenting roles such as paying bills, cooking meals, providing child care, and providing emotional support to younger siblings, and others. Oldest daughter syndrome occurs in girl children who are forced to take up unique duties and responsibilities due to the physical and emotional unavailability of the parents.

The main part is eldest daughters are parentified daughters who tend to mature before their age and take up responsibilities These duties or responsibilities could be anything for example, they may pay bills, fulfill the emotional responsibilities of younger siblings, perform household chores, and others. In this condition, eldest daughters voluntarily seek out duties. Psychologically, they also struggle with validation-seeking behaviors.

Mental Health Effects of Oldest Daughter Syndrome

Oldest daughter syndrome is commonly observed in families with physically or mentally unavailable parents, ill parents, or dead parents. Moreover, eldest daughter syndrome can also be experienced within families struggling from:

  • Financial issues
  • Immigrated families
  • Physically or mentally unavailable parents
  • Substance abuse

Eldest daughter syndrome negatively impacts eldest daughters responsible for the chores, duties, and responsibilities. Below listed are some of the common mental health impacts experienced by eldest daughters:

  • Anxious attachment style
  • Depression
  • Lack of personal identity
  • Inability to express their feelings
  • Prone at developing free-floating anxiety, personality disorders, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Sadness
  • Suppressed feelings, emotions, needs, and wants

How to Overcome Eldest Daughter Syndrome?

All children are moulded by their experiences, challenges, and struggles. However, growing up in an environment wherein parents are not solely available can have negative impacts on the development of children.

Talking about eldest daughters, they are forced to perform duties and responsibilities before even getting mature enough. Understanding your own needs and navigating through the challenges can only be a major solution to overcoming the eldest daughter syndrome. Here’s how you can break the cycle and overcome eldest daughter syndrome:

1. Set healthy boundaries and expectations

One of the important steps to overcoming eldest daughter syndrome is to set healthy boundaries and expectations. Herein, you must prioritize your mental and physical needs first. It’s important to cut down on toxic things in your life. If your parents are present, talk to them and clear your limits. In case of absent parents, talk to your caretakers or guardians.

2. Break the cycle

Daughters, who are struggling with the consequences of being the eldest daughter in the house, please know that it’s important to break this cycle. This generation is known for breaking the stereotypes and we don’t pass the trauma instead we resolve them. Therefore, prepare yourself for some stereotypical breaking and communicate your needs and wants to your family members. Maintain a parental role but also learn to take care of yourself and unlearn to suppress your emotions.

3. Write a letter to your younger self

Take out a pen and diary and start writing to your younger self. Navigate through your challenges and free yourself from the trauma or negative experiences you might have struggled through in childhood. Allow yourself to grow, learn, and take care of yourself. Move forward with gratitude and focus on your future.

4. Practice assertiveness

First-born daughters of the family are forced to take responsibility which leads to unhealthy coping mechanisms. Herein, setting boundaries, understanding your needs, and asserting your needs are important steps to be taken. Eldest daughters commonly struggle with clinginess, co-dependency, and other mental health struggles. In order to overcome them, it’s important to set boundaries and stand up for themselves.

5. Seek professional support

If you’re not able to cope with eldest daughter syndrome, consider taking the help of a certified and experienced mental health professional. A mental health professional can help you navigate through challenges and develop healthy coping skills to resolve mental health struggles. In such cases, schema therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, and family counseling can help you heal.

Message from the Author

Eldest daughter syndrome is a consequence of societal pressures and responsibilities of eldest daughters. If you are the first-born daughter of the house, you probably know how challenging and exhausting it can be to struggle with societal expectations and pressures. It’s time to break the stigmas, traumas, and cycles related to it.

When we start being more mindful, we start empowering ourselves. Therefore, unlearn to suppress your emotions and work on yourself to live a fulfilling and healthy life! Additionally, whenever you see a reel or video covering the struggles of the eldest daughter on the internet, empower other daughters and let them know they are strong, powerful, and resilient.

Moreover, you can also help them by sharing tips to overcome eldest daughter syndrome.

I hope this blog helps you understand and cope with eldest daughter syndrome. Comment down and share your views on the same. For more such content, connect with us through all social media platforms.

Thanks for reading!

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