Hi kids, are you the last born in the family? You might also be the last or only girl meaning that you might still have some younger ones. You may also be the last or only boy such that you might still have some younger ones. This piece is for you. In case you are not but your friend is, please make sure that this piece gets to that your friend. You will be doing him a great favour if you did.
WHAT IS LAST BORN SYNDROME?
This is a predictable pattern of behaviour or action arising from the circumstance of birth or position among the siblings in a family- being the last. What are the common causes of ‘last born syndrome’?
- PECULIAR LAST BORN: By my definition or grouping, peculiar last born could be divided into two. The first is the last born from parents who had earlier stopped child bearing only to later become nursing parents at relatively advanced ages. The second type of peculiar last born is in a family that earlier in marriage experienced delay in child bearing.
- LAST BORN BY PARENTS WHO ARE ADVANCED IN AGE: Particularly here in Africa, it is common for a new baby to come in long after the family had stopped normal child bearing or even in retirement. Such babies are often treated like a jelly fish particularly by the parents and equally treated like their own child by the older siblings who are perhaps left the home to settle on their own. Because the parents are now relatively advanced in age and have lots of time as against the case during their regular child bearing ages, the level of over pampering becomes heightened. In our society, such babies are referred to commonly as ‘spoilt child’.
- LAST BORN FROM PARENTS WHO EARLIER IN MARRIAGE EXPEREINCED SOME DELAYS: Some families do experience delay in child bearing for whatever reason hence, even if the children are just two, the last of the two is often treated more like a baby than the first.
- REGULAR LAST BORN: Depending on the size of the family, a last born is generally treated with special care not just by the parents but also the older siblings. For example, the last child of a family of five would also be a baby to the first and the second children in the family who would have been mature enough before the new baby comes in hence, the last born in such a large family becomes the baby of the entire house and often is treated so for the rest of life.
- LAST BORN IN POLYGAMOUS HOMES: There are certain realities in Africa. Such is procreation from more than one woman. Last born into such homes is peculiar in different ways. First is from the polygamist father who will tend more to the overall last child from him. The second care comes from the mother who incidentally would see the child as the last from herself. The third pampering comes from the siblings from the immediate mother of the last child and lastly though at a minimal level would be from the children of the other mother(s), depending on the numbers of women and children in all.
In consideration of the peculiarity of last born as categorised above, a typical last child finds himself or herself in a near palace environment at birth. Certain attitudes are formed premised on the developed mentality by virtue of the upbringing. The reality is that life is not always so. Why did I say so? The understanding and treatment of a last child starts and ends at the home front because really, identities aren’t being carried all around. In other words, places and relationship outside of the home, being not premised on the understanding that someone is the last child would definitely be different. Responding and reacting therefore, to situations outside of the home as if it is same as in the home front is often the major undoing of most last child. In some cases, the case is different. Whichever way, we shall discuss more next week. Take care.