Parents do not always realize the pressure they put on their kids. When an older child is successful, the younger kids usually spend their childhood competing to try and prove they’re just as good. Or when a younger child seems to receive all the affection, the older kids don’t waste time putting her back in her place. Like favored Joseph sold into slavery by his older brothers, I never understood why everyone seemed to like my baby brother the most. So the middle brother and I tried to convince our baby brother that there was another kid born before him that was so bad mom and dad locked him in the cellar, and we wouldn’t hesitate to tattle on him and never see him again when he was locked away in the oubliette under the house. Wait, that just got really personal. The point is that sibling rivalry is a tale as old as time.
Susanna Wesley was pregnant for 21 of the first 24 years of her marriage, raising 10 children who survived childbirth. The family was poor, and food was sometimes scarce. Susanna led a regimented home school, teaching six hours a day for 19 years. She insisted that her children learn the entire alphabet, capital and lower case letters, in one day when they turned five. This worked for all of her children, except poor old Nancy and Molly, who took an extra half-day to learn the alphabet, and Susanna believed them to be “dull” for the remainder of their childhood. It wasn’t until they were grown that Susanna realized they were much brighter than most children, who received no education. As with any household with many siblings, the girls especially argued over who was their mom’s favorite. The second youngest daughter Martha, nicknamed Patty, was pretty much always the favorite. Patty said, “What my sisters call partiality was what they might all have enjoyed if they had wished it; which was permission to sit in my mother’s chamber when discouraged, to listen to her conversation with others and to hear her remarks on things and books out of school hours.” Nobody likes a try-hard, Patty. Well, except for your mom, I guess.