Monday, May 5, 2008

Tell Mom and Dad Grace That I Was Right

A new study out confirms what I've always complained about after 1985 (the year Brother Grace was born)...the older kid in the family gets shafted. Well, not completely--they get more discipline and less leeway.

Now, a new study has confirmed what first-borns like Joshua have always suspected: The oldest kid in the family really does bear the brunt of parental strictness, while the younger brothers and sisters generally coast on through.
A ha! Let's read on...
“The folklore is that parents punish the older child more than the younger ones,” says Lingxin Hao, a sociology professor at Johns Hopkins University and an author of the study, published in the latest issue of the Economic Journal. “But it isn’t just folklore — this is a national pattern.”
Told you!

But there's an upside to this...

The study showed that older siblings were much less likely to drop out of school or, in the case of girls, get pregnant, than the youngest in the family, perhaps because they’ve had a lifetime of being held to higher standards.

That stricter parenting style often shapes the first-born kid into a play-by-the rules perfectionist, so parents tend to rely more on their oldest child than the younger kids, says Kevin Leman, a Tucson, Ariz., psychologist and author of “The Birth Order Book.”

This sounds familiar...
“When a job needs to get done, it’s the habit of the parent to call on the first-born, because they’re the most reliable and conscientious,” Leman says. But it's no accident that the oldest has become a responsible wonder child; it's the parenting strategy that made them that way.
Yep, that sounds about right. And so does this:
Younger siblings, the researchers found, really are more likely to take more risks than the oldest kid in the family.
Yowza....I knew that but it's kind of harsh to see.

So all of my complaining and moaning growing up (and let's be honest, still today) is not unsupported. There's actual data to show this. In a of ways the Grace family falls right into this pattern. I was held to a stricter standard when it came to school and such and Brother Grace wasn't and yet he takes more chances than I would ever be comfortable with--yet he's still getting his bachelors 5 years after he graduated high school. Maybe there's a Darwin-ian type balance here after all.

Goes to show you that I'm usually right...



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