Saturday, November 22, 2008

Birth Order Blues

It's hard enough to learn how to treat our kids as individuals, recognizing their own strenghts, personalities, likes, dislikes, aptitudes and of course, limitations. I worry the romance with birth order sometimes gets in the say, as does comparisons with siblings. Parents shouldn't overplay that card. As does Catherine Crawford over in the Bad Parent column at Babble - "Second Place: Is Birth Order to Blame for My Wild Child? Or Am I?". Hey, how about neither choice...

The birth order research acknowledge by many researchers, as well, full of holes. And yet, we get so stuck on it. Maybe because of the intense relationships we tend to have our siblings (and I'm there, I know it) we believe a lot of things we hear and read about birth order. But the research evidence is hardly convincing when you look at all the studies and the difficulty of getting at this very complicated issue in a controlled manner - that is, accounting for all the confounding issues in and among family members - it gets very tricky. For instance, the Dutch first-born IQ study involves a very narrow sample of military men, hardly a random group of people. Assuming the military draws a certain personality and perhaps person of achievement, it's no surprise they have higher IQs than siblings. Do I think there's something to birth order? The idea being that one's place determines personality, career, and future relationships, etc? Perhaps to a small degree, we don't really know for sure bc the research is so flawed, but it's likely there are a multitude of other more prominent factors at work.

Maybe I should write a Bad Mommy story: I'm a skeptic, albeit an optimistic one, who can't quite believe everything the experts tell us....

Anyone got a different perspective?

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