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Babies In the Family Held to Lower Standards Than the Oldest

October 23, 2013

It is true, apparently, that our parents turn out to be softies as they age, and our younger brothers and sisters do get way more than we did. According to a recent  study parents are harder on the firstborn and lax with the baby:

They found that parents of earlier-born children were harder on them when they brought home poor grades than they were with later-born children. Parents were also more lax with their rules for their younger kids when it came to television watching, video games, and other activities that might diminish time dedicated to homework. The study found that the oldest child in a family of four is significantly more likely to “face daily homework monitoring relative to the last born in that family.” As a result, oldest children were more likely to be at the top of their classes and the youngest more likely to be at the bottom. What’s also interesting is that the survey found that parents took a tougher approach because they were trying to establish their reputation as a disciplinarian. Once they felt their tough-love style had been established with the first child, they had the tendency to slack off.

Love it–parents slacking off. Just sounds indicting, doesn’t it? Of course there are plenty of older siblings who say: “You would never have let me do that!” and they are right! Unfortunately, the youngest children, in that sense had much lower levels of achievement. So, while you wish you could have gotten away with more as the eldest, you will most likely achieve a lot more because of your status. Those “babies” who luxuriated in lax parenting may have to push harder to achieve more because they didn’t get as much input from their parents, or just plain not as much parenting in the same respect.

A review of over 200 studies on birth order came up with the following findings:

First-born children are often highly motivated, Type A personalities who are vulnerable to stress. They are the most conformist and influenced by authority.

Middle children are sociable and least prone to “acting out.” They can also exhibit feelings of being an outsider.

Youngest children show the highest degree of sociability and empathy. They are also the most rebellious.

Only children have a strong need to achieve, are intelligent, and exhibit the most behavioral problems.

Just when you thought you set your own destiny, you find out it all comes back to your childhood anyway! So, parents, if you want your youngest child to achieve more, expect more! And oldest children, well, guess your comfort will have to come from the fact that you were right about how the baby gets away with everything, for real!

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