thelastpsychiatrist.com - Birth Order: Are First Borns Always Older Than Their Siblings? Adnotated.

Thursday, 15 August, Year 11 d.Tr. | Author: Mircea Popescu

Yes, but it doesn't mean younger children can't be older than someone, too. Everyone's a winner! That said, according to USA TODAY and Science Magazine, the oldest kids are the smartest. Let's assume that this is correct. What's the reason?

The most common explanation is "resource dilution:" the oldest usually gets the most parental resources. In any given day, the oldest receives more attention than any of the sibs. The more attention you receive, the more you develop. The attention (more reading, more activities, more conversation) is supposed to give the oldest kid the emotional resources to grow.

That's fine, but it doesn't explain why only-children aren't the smartest, for example. (Common answer: the parents of an only child didn't want more children because it took time away from themselves;i so the only-child actually receives "less" attention than other kids in other families. Maybe, but it can't be true for all such families. (Can it?)) But I favor a different explanation.

First, oldest kids get parentified: "go watch your brother and sister!" "Make sure this baby doesn't roll!" "Look, I know you're only five, but I can't get up right now, do me a favor and go into the kitchen, get out the lasagna pan, set the upper oven to 450, chop up the garlic and I'll be there in a minute." Oldest kids may not be smarter, they may just have had to grow up faster; they have to learn to think fast, improvise, etc. This might explain USA TODAY's survey of CEOs: 50% were first born, while 20% were last born. But second, there's this: "you idiot! you chopped the garlic with a steak knife!?"

You learn fast, lessons your younger sibs don't learn as early in life. And, specifically, you learn a) what adults "do" (because you're often expected to replicate it); b) that you are always under scrutiny -- so perform, don't bother trying to hide; c) that you are under more scrutiny than your sibs -- in other words, that they are "special." Not better, but singled out for more responsibility, more scrutiny than others. For some reason, you are different.

Here's something interesting: more than likely, you are attempting to frame this post in terms of your own childhood. Were you the oldest, youngest, what happened, etc. Why doesn't it occur to you to frame it in terms of your own children?ii

If you're a parent of more than two kids, ask yourself the following: who do you yell at the most?iii Would you trust your youngest today to do things you trusted your oldest to do at that same age (e.g. watch a baby?)iv When you need a kid to do something for you, who do you ask?v

I know you'll have "reasons" why you pick the first, but the important part is that for whatever reason, you are picking the oldest.vi

Identity comes easier to the oldest born, because it is reinforced (positively or negatively). "You know better", "you're supposed to," etc. It's pretty easy to see how narcissists are almost always the oldest child. (And borderlines the youngest, or only.) Depending on why they get more scrutiny and more responsibility, they develop differently.

Maybe by the time the parents get to the third kid they're too tired to uphold the same level of performance -- so it is that the youngest seems to get away with more; maybe the parents realize they were too tough with the first. In this case, it's too late for the oldest, but the benefit to the younger ones is greater. Maybe they thus get more positive attention and less punishment or control. So maybe they become artistic, or pick a career that's unusual.vii

But sometimes a relational pattern is established, like dating the same kind of guy over and over. A pattern develops, where the oldest "never does anything right" (because he's expected to do what would never have been expected of the youngest) and parents are repetitively in an emotional state of anger or frustration. Soon, that's how they relate to each other; the oldest on the defensive, or trying to perform, the parents on full alert, ready to go insane. Even when the kid grows up and stops making such "stupid mistakes," the pattern is already firm: the parents relate to him by [levels] of anger and frustration.

The result in this situation is that the oldest goes on to succeed -- amazed, really, at how easy the world is and how little is actually expected of or necessary from him, in comparison to what went on at home -- but is simultaneously bitter, resentful of how easy it is for other people to be happy when they want to be, despite their lack of successes. These people can easily become abusers (especially emotionally) ("I hate your emotions!"); they can become alcoholics ("I hate my emotions!"); insomniacs ("I hate that another day has passed and I have done nothing of actual consequence, nothing, nothing, nothing."viii)

(For more on prenting/developmental issues, search the site for "parenting.")

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  1. It's a dumb fucking answer. Solo kids are a) overwhelmed by force disparty, there's too many adults around and b) bereft of stepping stones in their natural development -- specifically in the shape of siblings. Any of those smarter elder sons can readily tell you the childhood value of a ready stable of captive experimental subjects. []
  2. Because I'm not dumb enough to play genital lottery ? []
  3. They're all different fucking women, how the fuck would this comparison work ? They don't bruise the same way, they don't hurt the same way, they don't do the same dumb shit, they don't have the same blindspots/bad habits... what the fuck is this child=child nonsense anyhow ?!

    If your children are interchangeable like he proposes... well congrats, you had retards. Speaking of which : if you're the parent of multiple kids why didn't it ever occur to you that the master of multiple selected slavegirls would actually be able to distinguish them from one another ? Oh, because you don't select, you just take whatever it is they had at the hospital that day. I see, I see. Carry on, don't mind me. []

  4. Yep. As the general benefit of increased Masterly experience, latter slavegirls progress slightly faster (mutatis mutandis, which is Latin for "changing underwear") than earlier slavegirls. []
  5. That all depends. And it is complicated. []
  6. Certainly not. []
  7. This "pick a career" nonsense... nobody "picks" a career, it's not fucking Lay's chips. You do what you have to do, or you're no good. []
  8. Honestly, this seems rather a healthy, positive outlook ; doesn't have to be associated with insomnia that I can discern. []
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2 Responses

  1. http://trilema.com/2019/thelastpsychiatristcom-birth-order-are-first-borns-always-older-than-their-siblings-adnotated/#selection-99.0-99.108 - If this was true, then wouldn't the youngest be left with less support and more stress?

    The discussion of birth order seems to be the psychologists/psychiatrist version of horoscopes.

  2. Mircea Popescu`s avatar
    2
    Mircea Popescu 
    Sunday, 18 August 2019

    I expect the youngest is in fact left with the least support and the most stress, in some statistical sense ; but yes, the discussion of birth order effects does rather resemble astrology.

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