If you’re an eldest daughter, TikTok is officially worried about you
‘You’re expected to do everything for everyone’
Organising parent’s birthday presents every year, booking and organising all sibling outings, checking everyone else is emotionally stable and secure before daring to think about yourself— if you do any of these things, you might well be the oldest daughter in your family. And TikTok is worried about you.
Now with over 31.6million views #eldestdaughtersyndrome is one of TikTok’s longest lasting trends of 2023. There’ve been endless memes and sketches from content creators about how anxious, extra and on top of everything eldest daughters are. Because they have to be. Nobody else is going to do this unpaid labour within the family if they don’t. And everything needs to get done.
In one sketch by @viennaayla, the eldest daughter has literally been kidnapped and she’s still trying to organise everyone around her. “Do you have any idea how much of a fire hazard this is?” she asks her kidnapper of his creepy basement. “Luckily for you I can clear space out like this in my sleep.”
Another video by @tinx points out: “We’re oldest daughters, we’re going to be the glue that holds our families together…we’re going to do all the cooking at every holiday…we’re going to be the one that everyone comes to to talk about their problems…we’re going to be the first ones in our families to go to therapy…we’re going to be treated like fully fledged adults by the time that we’re nine.”
So, the big question really is why are we like this? Many TikTok videos about oldest daughter syndrome aren’t funny at all. Women are sharing their stories of spending their childhood feeling responsible and stressed in a way that feels almost inherent but definitely shouldn’t be. Seemingly, eldest daughters didn’t want to take on all this added pressure as children – it was sort of just thrust onto them instead.
Essentially, being the eldest daughter can often feel like being the “first pancake” when it comes to family’s parenting skills. If the care is lacking in any way, the roles can often get reversed and the eldest daughter starts caring for their parents instead in some capacity, experts have suggested.
And once you start planning, organising and helping your way out of a problem, it can be pretty hard to stop: “I think the reason that oldest daughters are always a little bit unhinged is because once they come into a certain age they come into this realisation like ‘oh! I never was a kid,'” theorised one TikTok user to 226k likes of agreement. “‘I’ve always been a supporter of my parents, my siblings, I’ve never once just got to be a kid’. And so, if you know an oldest daughter, give them a hug and say thank you because they’re probably going through it…Be kind to them.”