March 15, 2012

birth order

Have you ever considered where you fall in line with your siblings, and how that affects every aspect of your life? The role of the middle child seems to be the sibling status most frequently studied, often considered the most difficult sibling place to occupy. In my house, everything comes in two' middle children here.

I have an older brother, three years my senior, making me the youngest child. My husband is one of two, his brother is 5 years younger, so clearly, he's an eldest child. Now, continuing the tradition of siblings coming in two's, we have our two little ladies as part of our family, Lady M is the oldest by 2 1/2 years...Lady A the little sister.

Last semester I took a class called "Socially & Culturally Situated Learning", and as part of writing our educational biographies we talked a fair bit about birth order and how that has affected where we are today, professionally and personally. I have always enjoyed being a little sister, and being one of two siblings. From time to time the thought of having several more siblings crossed my mind as being desirable, but I've always been happy having just the two of us. My brother on the other hand has likely given more consideration to having only child status more times that I know.

Now that we have the lives of two children to manage, I'm amazed by the frequency with which I think about birth order. I'm also amazed at how my second child status affects my parenting, quite unintentionally. As soon as Lady M tries to stop Lady A from doing something - not wanting to share with her, trying to gently push her out of the way, whatever it may be - I come quickly to the little one's defense. Whether that is simply because she's smaller, more needy, or because I connect to being the youngest, I really don't know. However, on the flip side, my husband, forever bonded to his older child status, can understand the plight of big sister Lady M in a way I can't. Don't get me wrong, our munchkins are treated as equally as possible, but there is an obvious connection to our corresponding sibling statuses.

Frank Sulloway, a researcher who studies birth order says "the personalities of siblings vary because they adopt different strategies in the universal quest for parental favor". Apparently those strategies are also used when it comes to parenting, whether intentionally or not!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It's interesting how it does play a role... I was the youngest of three and remember jokes about my sister "in the middle" being the "middle child". Since we have two little onese, it's different from my experience but we do refer to our olders as the "big brother". Interesting about the strategies...Thinking about that now, too! :-)