Birth order impacts parenting style, subsequent academic achievement

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  • Dante Salt Lake City, UT
    Oct. 24, 2013 6:43 p.m.

    A slightly off-topic comment. I have had occasion to counsel personally with many young university students (400-500) in their 20s. Several of these came from large families (7-12 children).

    With only a couple of exceptions, those who came from large families expressed slight to considerable resentment that they had to share their parents' time and energy with so many siblings during their formative years. In several instances, these individuals explained that they felt much closer to one or two of their siblings than they did to their parents. This did not vary by birth order. The earlier-born said they noticed their parents beginning to ignore them and leave them to their own devices as younger siblings were born into the family. The later-born resented their parents having left them to be largely raised and trained by their older siblings.

    Admittedly, young single university students in their 20s often have challenges and they often tend to blame some of their emotional problems on their parenting. Children crave and value one-on-one time with a loving and interested parent. This is true even in their teenage years when they are loathe to show it.

  • heidi ho Fort Collins, CO
    Oct. 24, 2013 12:37 p.m.

    I was the second child out of two children in my mother's original family, then she got divorced and remarried, and then I was a middle child in the middle of seven children, which really was difficult, and then she got divorced and then remarried someone that had no children, and that is only on my mother's side, now my biological father got married after my mother divorced him and remarried and had 4 more children of his own so I was the oldest child there, because my brother wasn't talking to him at the time, and then he divorced her and then married a woman that had one child of her own, so I would definitely be the oldest child there, and then he divorced her and then got married to someone that had no children as far as I know but then he divorced her because she tried to poison him. That is why I turned out so normal, and why I don't live in Utah anymore.

  • PookyBear84010 KAYSVILLE, UT
    Oct. 24, 2013 11:29 a.m.

    I think this birth order study is a lot of nonsense. I have four children. The first and the third are unmotivated in school, but wonderfully relaxed and happy. The second and fourth are highly motivated in school, but suffer from anxiety. They were just born with the personalities they have. I have tried to put more pressure and offer more rewards to the unmotivated ones to try to make up for it, but it makes virtually no difference.

  • RBB Sandy, UT
    Oct. 24, 2013 10:28 a.m.

    While there is some truth here, there are a multitude of factors. Our older children had a stricter rules and have done very well (college scholarships). Their younger siblings have more freedom, but are still doing very well (honor roll). I am the youngest of 6 and have a doctoral degree. All of the children in my family have at least a B.S.

    Several years ago I saw a similar study that said that academic achievement suffers with family size. The study had a footnote that two noted exceptions were Mormon and Jewish families. I would bet that if you studied Mormon and Jewish families specifically you would find less of a difference between the eldest and youngest in academic achievement.

  • Brave Sir Robin San Diego, CA
    Oct. 24, 2013 9:59 a.m.

    No wonder my younger brother is such an idiot...

  • The Solution Dayton, OH
    Oct. 24, 2013 9:53 a.m.

    "Parents just get lazy" lacks perspective. Parents get wiser. With your first kid you are overly strict to a fault. Maybe this child will have better grades, but oler children, especially the oldest, tend to resent the way they were raised by their parents when they're older. Whereas younger siblings are given much more lattitude to make mistakes and learn from them. They tend to build more personal relationships with their parents. Maybe they don't always have the best grades and work ethic, but they seem more happy with less baggage.

    That should be the follow-up study to this.

  • Mokie Podunk, UT
    Oct. 24, 2013 9:01 a.m.

    I guess I am an excepting to this study. I was the youngest of 4 children and always worked for better grades and was the only one in my family to go to, and graduate from, college. I now have my Master's Degree and am loving my career and life. I don't think it is a matter of when you were born, but more a matter of how much your parents really care. That would be the determining factor to me. It is sad some parents get lazier with their children the more they have. I have seen it in my friend's lives and am so glad my parents worked hard for each of their children instead of mailing it in.

  • southmtnman Provo, UT
    Oct. 24, 2013 8:37 a.m.

    This is why I made sure that ALL of my children were "firstborn". And they are doing great!

  • Older Mom Roswell, GA
    Oct. 24, 2013 7:25 a.m.

    I am the oldest child in a large family. My father had cancer when I was a preteen and Mom went to school then work. I became the afterschool caregiver for my younger siblings. My younger siblings did not excel in school as I did. I think in part because there was not the help that I had in the early years. I was taught to read before kindergarten, my parents worked with me in the elementary years. Yes, I learned responsibility, but I was not a good mother substitute. Preschool/daycare was not as common in the 60's. I kept an eye on my brother and sisters, changed diapers and made sure they were fed, but I was worried about my homework.

    40 years later, I can see the financial differences in our family. The older children are very financially stable. I went to college with a full academic scholarship. My youngest sister refused to go to college even though the money was there. The younger children in our family have struggled greatly with their finances. Parents need to be aware and when possible make sure they spend time with the youngest children. Their future is in your hands.

  • raybies Layton, UT
    Oct. 24, 2013 7:05 a.m.

    I believe part of the reason older children get better grades (which is not mentioned in this article) is because older children don't have older siblings who have already explored the world for them. This process of exploration is very beneficial to young minds and I believe sparks inquisitiveness. Older siblings dictate the world to younger.

    It can make life as a younger sibling easier (or at least more secure) because they don't have to face the unexpected, but at the same time, it robs them of the need to deal with the unknown. And that's the very essence of learning.

    Older siblings may also set the bar too high and the young give up on competition... my first two are fiercely competative. Last three not-so-much.

    Yes, parents get tired the older they get, but in my home (I was the eldest of seven), that tiring had a beneficial educatory effect, in which my younger siblings actually were much better adjusted than the older ones. They got better teachers, because my parents knew the bad ones by then. They got excellent grades, while mine were good but not valedictory.

  • Say No to BO Mapleton, UT
    Oct. 24, 2013 6:37 a.m.

    The first child learns to speak from adults.

  • Ranch Here, UT
    Oct. 24, 2013 6:17 a.m.

    I know that my parents were much more strict with me than with my younger siblings, who were likely to get away with anything.

  • Howard Beal Provo, UT
    Oct. 23, 2013 8:10 p.m.

    I see a lot of parents pawning of their kids on their older siblings. It might teacher the older ones a bit more responsibility though some come to resent it, but I think the younger kids often miss the quality time with parents the older children got.