Against birth order changing child's nature - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 12 Old 09-16-2011, 08:47 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I know many people are fascinated that they fit into a simple birth order model. But, did you have a choice? Do you have a choice for your children? I think so. 

 

I believe that babies are born without a concept of birth order until it is introduced to them by their parents.  I am hoping to raise my children as they are, not as a first born or middle, or baby. I realize that some of their experiences can't be changed. But I want to avoid pressuring the firstborn, neglecting the middle, and babying the last. 

 

Any thoughts?


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#2 of 12 Old 09-17-2011, 09:50 AM
 
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Having a baby changed who I was.  Consequently I was a different parent to my second.  I couldn't have have parented my second exactly the same as my first unless I ignored everything that I learned with the first.  I think it's somewhat inevitable that parents learn, grow and change their parenting with each child.

 

On another note, I once read about a study that reported that the environment in a "used" womb contributes to the different characteristics shown by second and subsequent children.  I have no idea if the science behind the study was valid, but it's food for thought.

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#3 of 12 Old 09-17-2011, 10:24 AM
 
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I have three kids 17 (G),15 (B) and 13 (today!B).  They are so far from that model it's scary.  The only thing that works with them is that #1 and 3, feel united against #2 as they have more similar personality in books, activities, etc.  Otherwise it's so off base it's laughable.....

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#4 of 12 Old 09-17-2011, 10:57 AM
 
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not sure how i feel about this, but it is interesting. 

 

i wonder if sex of the child(ren).  would change any of these "typical" characteristics (e.g. would the second child, a sister to an older sister, exhibit different characteristics than the second child, a brother to an older sister).  just a thought.


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#5 of 12 Old 09-18-2011, 11:56 PM
 
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While I agree in general terms with your ideas,  practically, and in reality, I think it will be difficult to avoid.  You can avoid the language and somewhat the pressure, but the reality is that the oldest is the oldest and will do more than the youngest.  The oldest is a pattern to the younger ones whether you say it or not. So, when the oldest is standing on a cement wall about to show the little one how to jump off, you might say 'your too little to jump off that wall' or 'please, oldest son, do not show him that because he might get hurt.'    I don't see how you can avoid it.  It will take a great deal of careful wording on your part.  Also, in general the parents enlist the older ones to help out with the littler ones and that in itself is placing more responsibility, a.k.a. pressure on the older one without really intending to pressure them.

 

I think the birth order is just a natural progression of what happens in a family and is unavoidable.  Sure you can avoid certain language and phrases.  You can play it up or play it down, but life's responsibilities are just different if you are the oldest.  I think it's more important to teach kids to be happy with the cards their dealt, so to speak, or if you believe in God's sovereign arrangement, to be happy/content with where God placed you.

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#6 of 12 Old 09-19-2011, 12:11 AM
 
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I think that would be an almost impossible task. I think there are just so many different factors beyond parenting that go into why first borns, middles, and youngests are the way they are. I don't think it's the be all, end all, but it is true in a lot of families. I've changed so much since when I was first pregnant with my son, when we have another baby there are a lot of things I will do differently.


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#7 of 12 Old 09-19-2011, 04:50 AM
 
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There's only so much we have control over. I try to remember the serenity prayer. "God grant me the serenity to accept the things I can not change, the courage to change the thing I can, and the wisdom to know the difference." I think at least most of this is outside your control.
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#8 of 12 Old 09-20-2011, 09:42 AM
 
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First, I'm sure that individual personality and other factors like coping with unusual talents or disabilities can make a big difference in whether a child develops according to birth order stereotypes. I think there may be patterns or trends when you look at a group of people from a particular birth order demographic, but I don't think birth order inevitably guarantees a certain personality type. 

 

From a parent's perspective, I think you can try to avoid some of the potential pitfalls of birth order. For example, you don't have to rely on the eldest to be a mini-parent, responsible for the others. You can try to give the middle child the same amount of attention and time as the other children. The youngest can be held to the same standards as the firstborn. I don't think it will be enough though. 

 

Not all of the characteristics are solely due to parental behaviour and influence. The siblings create their own relationships and model behaviour to each other and it can result in some of the birth order stereotypes. You'll have to police sibling relationships too, and possibly that isn't going to be very healthy - or effective.  

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#9 of 12 Old 09-20-2011, 10:50 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cjam View Post

Having a baby changed who I was.  Consequently I was a different parent to my second.  I couldn't have have parented my second exactly the same as my first unless I ignored everything that I learned with the first.  I think it's somewhat inevitable that parents learn, grow and change their parenting with each child.


Well said. You can not help but to learn from the first. It is one of the drawbacks of firstborns I suppose. It made me more relaxed with the second - "oh, we are going through this phase again" - and made me more confident and comfortable in that phase. I think that confidence must rub off on the kids in some ways, yk? 

 

The first was alone with you - which means he / she had 1 on 1 time. But it also means he/she missed out on a constant playmate. Works both ways. 

 

Plus, one is going to be older, and that means have different needs than the younger. You can't avoid this. The oldest will be first to go to school, first to experience so much. The younger will then see some of that experience, and it can then be easier for them on some levels. And even basic things are different. For example unless you are wealthy, there will be some hand-me-downs, be that clothes and toys or bikes and footballs. 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by mamazee View Post

There's only so much we have control over. I try to remember the serenity prayer. "God grant me the serenity to accept the things I can not change, the courage to change the thing I can, and the wisdom to know the difference." I think at least most of this is outside your control.


This is so useful for so many things in life!

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by ollyoxenfree View Post

 

First, I'm sure that individual personality and other factors like coping with unusual talents or disabilities can make a big difference in whether a child develops according to birth order stereotypes. I think there may be patterns or trends when you look at a group of people from a particular birth order demographic, but I don't think birth order inevitably guarantees a certain personality type. 

 

From a parent's perspective, I think you can try to avoid some of the potential pitfalls of birth order. For example, you don't have to rely on the eldest to be a mini-parent, responsible for the others. You can try to give the middle child the same amount of attention and time as the other children. The youngest can be held to the same standards as the firstborn. I don't think it will be enough though. 

 

Not all of the characteristics are solely due to parental behaviour and influence. The siblings create their own relationships and model behaviour to each other and it can result in some of the birth order stereotypes. You'll have to police sibling relationships too, and possibly that isn't going to be very healthy - or effective.  


Bolding mine. Agreed. You don't have to make the oldest one be the designated babysitter. But it would also be unfair to make him or her go to bed 2 hours early, when not tired, just because the youngest is tired. Let them find their own relationship - naturally. Some stereotypes may appear. But it does not mean you forced it on them, kwim? My DD is 4 and wants to only wear dresses. And they must be pink or purple. I am not a girly-girl, and wear dresses 10 times a year, tops. I didn't force the stereotype at all, but she fits it - right now anyway. Your kids will fit some of the stereotypes at some points in their lives, and as long as everyone accepts it, it will be ok. 

 

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#10 of 12 Old 09-20-2011, 11:00 AM
 
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Well, no matter what you do, the younger siblings will never have been the sole focus of your parenting - that belongs to the eldest only. That might be a good thing or a bad thing - the undivided attention balanced against the experience that you bring to the parenting of the younger siblings.

 

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#11 of 12 Old 09-20-2011, 11:07 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by choli View Post

Well, no matter what you do, the younger siblings will never have been the sole focus of your parenting - that belongs to the eldest only. That might be a good thing or a bad thing - the undivided attention balanced against the experience that you bring to the parenting of the younger siblings.

 


This is a good point.

 

I am raising an only child but I hope to not fall into the raising-an-only-child pitfalls. I'm trying to raise her as if she were my second child, but that's hard to do! I am pretty protective of her, she is the center of my universe, and I just hope she turns out well adjusted in spite of that!

 

I am the oldest in my family, and I do sort of fit the stereotype. Then again, there are ways that I don't fit it at all. I think the birth order stuff counts for something, but it's hardly the sole defining influence in someone's life.

 


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#12 of 12 Old 09-21-2011, 07:10 AM
 
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I agree with what many of the others are saying. It is all fine and good to have ideas about how we want to parent, but for me reality often sets in and I find myself doing things I never thought I would. Sometimes it is out of necessity and sometimes it is learning from experience. I don't think that anyone intends to put pressure on the oldest, but for me, I tend to worry about every little thing he does and wonder if it is going to progress into some terrible flaw or diasasterous outcome. With my 2nd and 3rd, I have the experience to say, "hey, I remember this stage, we've done this before". I think that awareness of the birth order characteristics allows you as the parent to be more aware of how your actions can reinforce those tendencies.


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