The Narcissus in All of Us

Reflections on the self, personality, and what makes you, "you."

Risk of child abuse differs between siblings

Are older siblings in a family more likely to be physically abused than their younger siblings? Does the number of children in the family affect the likelihood of abuse? Read More

middle child

I'm the middle child of 3 girls and was the only child to be subject to abuse by both of my parents. My older sister (by 1 year) is handicapped, so of course they wouldn't abuse her. My younger sister (by 3 years) is the youngest, so they didn't abuse her either.

In fact, from my perspective, they spoiled both of my sisters in various ways (unlike me, my parents enrolled my younger sister in an expensive private school since she was very young and she was financially supported by my parents for years into adulthood, and obviously my older handicapped sister is completely dependent on my parents for everything and will be for the rest of her life.)

As a result, I became very self-reliant and estranged from my parents, while my sisters are still close to my parents. I'm not complaining about how things turned out, but it's interesting that I chose a very different lifestyle compared to my sister, ie. to not have a spouse or kids, whereas my younger 'normal' sister has 2 kids, a successful supportive husband, a house, travels to Europe all the time, and enjoys a typical middle-upper-class lifestyle.

My sisters and I are very different. Is that the result of the abuse I suffered as a child? Middle-child syndrome? Perhaps those factors come into play.

There are so many possible

There are so many possible factors that cause siblings to be different from one another, so it's difficult to say. Siblings are usually more different from one another than we expect them to's probably due to lots of little things too.

Abused older child

I can attest to this situation. As the oldest of four years, the first four years of my life as an only child were violent. My mother was an immigrant in Texas and did not handle the racism and sexism that she experienced well, and she took it out on me. She never abused my sister. At 25 today, I can't help but be resentful and hope to achieve a permanent estrangement once I am financially independent.

Nuclear age?

Rather strongly implies that extended families - as was the rule in the past - are superior (in this regard) to the modern nuclear family. Also implies that two parent families are superior in this regard to one parent families. Not arguing for any kind of standard heterosexual marriage or saying that single parent household are always bad. Just saying that having more than one primary care giver increases the chances that a bad egg will be deterred.

Not to mention increased financial stability, reduced workloads and less stress in general. That in itself will reduce the incidence of abuse.

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Ilan Shrira is a social psychologist at the Loyola University in Chicago.


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