Like most parents who have more than one child, I regularly find myself faced with the difficult task of dividing my attention evenly between my kids. In addition to spending time together as a family, I also make a conscious effort to spend time with both my boys individually in order to prevent either of them from feeling slighted in any shape or form.
According to a recently scientific study however, I may already be too late. The results of this research claim that children who are firstborn tend to become more successful than their younger siblings. Now, as a middle child out of a total 5 siblings, I was a little reluctant to accept this. And while the order of a child's birth doesn’t necessarily guarantee their outcome in life, the facts are hard to ignore. For instance, of the 12 men who walked the moon, 10 were first born children and the other two were the only child in their family. There are also an extraordinary number of celebrities, CEO’s and Nobel Prize winners who are firstborn as well.
So what is the reason for this? There are a few theories that try to explain this intriguing phenomenon.
First of all, from the time the first child is born until the arrival of the second, there are no other competitors for parents’ attention. Another factor is the additional responsibility that is placed on the oldest to look after and/or set the example for their younger siblings. Indeed, my oldest is not even 5 years old, yet I tend to remind him of his status as role model to his little brother in order to discourage his negative behavior. Thirdly, when it comes to discipline, parents tend to be a little firmer on the oldest as something of a “signaling mechanism” to the other children. This seems to be the most efficient and least expensive method in which to dole out discipline amongst multiple children.
Apparently, these combined experiences will mold my oldest son’s psyche and provide him with the tools that will make him more likely to become successful.
So what real-life conclusions can we draw from these studies? Should I just place all my hopes of being cared for in my old age in my oldest? Well as I mentioned before, there are simply too many other indicators that factor into how a child turns out besides the order of birth. But as scientists try to learn more and more about human nature, hopefully I can learn something about myself in the process and in turn, become a better father.
To read some of the studies, please view these links:
Question: Do you agree that oldest siblings are more successful?