by Meghan M '11

Second Is the Best?

Those who have siblings can usually sense the differences early on; the variations in the way the parents treat the eldest child versus the youngest child, and those in the middle.  Some fight it at first, but eventually accept it as fact; the oldest will always be the leader, and the youngest the rebel.
Of course, this isn’t true for all families.  One’s birth order shouldn’t and can’t be read like a horoscope.  There are always those cases in which a younger sibling will do better academically than the oldest, and the oldest becomes the rebel.  For all cases, however, there is no denying the fact that siblings affect each other in greater ways than acknowledged as they grow up.
Take John and Patrick McEnroe as an example.  Although both were tennis players, John, the older of the two, went on to become number one in the world during his time, while Patrick barely made a dent in the sport of tennis.
Study after study will continuously prove that birth order has an extreme impact on each sibling, no matter what field they chose to be in.  The eldest sibling will more often than not be the one let into Harvard, with the youngest being the one to either excel in the arts or become a druggie.  The middle siblings have always been the question in these studies, due to their lack of consistency.
Birth order proves to be getting stronger over the years, as the old stereotypical action of neglecting to give the girl of the family what her place in the family should grant her in order to have more to give to the boy slowly but surely dies out.  Now, with more jobs available for both men and women, one will find that the eldest of the family, even if it is a girl, will more often than not be the leader of the family; the one that thrives.
So what causes this repetitiveness in the way first-borns and later-borns turn out?   A lot of it has to do with the parents.  The first born in a family enjoys 100% of the food the family has to offer, but the food becomes more limited with each and very child that is later born.  However, the eldest will always have a few years head start above the youngest in terms of calories they enjoyed before the youngest was alive.
Not only is it the fact that the oldest was alive longer than the rest that causes them to be the most prosperous in the family, but the favoritism that the parents demonstrate towards them boosts their self confidence, while lowering that of the youngest.  Parents will always find pride in their very first child; the leader of the pack.  This pride that exists even before the child becomes leader of the pack has a huge impact on all of the children’s futures.
As the baby of the family, the youngest enjoys more attention than necessary, which becomes apparent very early on in the child’s life.  They soon become aware that they can get away with a lot without having to do much at all.  Thus they become the rebel, but seen as the “sweet but energetic” baby of the family.
All of these factors and more have enormous impacts on the children’s lives, and soon have a large part when it comes to defining who they are and what they will become.

By Mr. Lakhaney

TOK Teacher

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