I am the oldest of three with parents who have had a nearly 45-year dysfunctional marriage. My mother's disrespect to my father over the years has had a pretty strong effect on my sister, the middle child and 3 years younger than me. She is quick to bully, start arguments, and to offer unsolicited and nasty criticism. Our brother, the youngest, has distanced himself from the family. Some of my sister's nastiness has trickled down to my daughter over the years, and she has been quick to criticize my daughter and parenting skills as well, despite the fact that her own children are not problem-free and I've done a good job of keeping my mouth shut. My husband, the oldest of two, has experienced somewhat similar issues in his own family. We both theorize that as the oldest, we were expected to tow the line and be the "cooperative, easy-going" kids, while our younger sisters got their needs met from being the squeaky wheels in the family. Truly, once the family roles have been doled out, there isn't much going back. He and I have both experienced a lot of friction from our birth families when we show resistance to being the "easy" ones.