Family Dynamics

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The discussion around birth order is a truly fascinating one. Should parents always expect their first child to be the organized scholar and the later born child to be the charming trouble maker? In my opinion, family dynamics are far too complex to assign these important characteristics based solely on the sequence of birth. Each family member fulfills a different role within the family and this can change dramatically between different families. The different combinations of boys and girls along with the range of ages within a family and parental involvement are big factors in establishing roles within a family. My father grew up with 4 other siblings and the personality traits seem to be exactly the opposite than what research suggests. His oldest brother was the most free-spirited of the family while his youngest brother went on to be a college professor. However, in my mom's family the roles seem to follow the predictions perfectly.

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The argument that you make against the idea that birth order is a huge factor in personality is one that I definitely agree with. Just like you said, there are far too many other factors that influence what a child will grow up to be like. This is especially true when you take into consideration all the different environments that children experience and are influenced by while growing up. It is actually much more the peer group a child experiences that has a greater pull on their behavior and personality than the parents, and I think that same idea can probably be applied when comparing siblings. I know first hand that there must be different factors at work here. I am the oldest in my family and definitely the most rebellious, while my brother is the middle child and is the most scholarly.

While there are way too many factors that influence personality, this research fits my siblings and I nearly perfectly. I am extremely, almost excessively, organized and have always worked really hard in school. My brother, the second oldest is more free spirited than I am, but not really terrible. My youngest sister is very mischievous, but does excellent in school. The second youngest, my 10 year old sister is very smart, quiet, shy, and sensitive which really throws this research. I agree that there are too many factors at work in personality formation and would say that much more research could be done on family dynamics focusing on child personalities.

I definitely agree. I feel like people can chose who they want to be, and make their own destiny, as cheesy as it sounds. Birth order shouldn't have any impact on the successful-ness of someones life, whether they are born first or last they can do just as well.

Like it has already been stated, we know that there are many exceptions to the general trends of personality when it comes to birth order. But I also find it interesting that very often these trends hold to be true. This especially holds true in my own family. My mom always jokes, "they get smarter as they go down the line", but in reality it's my older siblings that are smarter and are more quiet and it's the younger ones that are more social. Although the effects of birth order are apparent in my family, I do agree that there are many other, more important factors that determine a person's personality.

I was really surprised when I read in the textbook that there was no evidence that birth order determines personality traits. Most of my family and friends seem to fit with the stereotypical personality of a youngest, middle, or oldest. I have learned from this psychology class that many claims our culture has about people should not be assumed to be correct.

I agree with the fact that you can't generalize these types of things to all families. I have three sisters, me and my twin are the youngest. My oldest sister fits the characteristics fairly well, she is very organized and motivated, however she is also the most free-spirited and me and my twin are probably the least. My other sister is the typical "middle child" in a few ways. She is very dramatic and everything is over the top. I think that it is okay to make these generalizations but just to know that they don't occur within every family.

I do not believe that one can consistently predict what types of characteristics the first born will have in relation to other younger siblings. There are just too many different types of families, parenting styles, and other factors that could contribute to this. However, in my family, organizational styles follow the pattern exactly as researchers predicted. I have 6 other siblings and the oldest are the most organized and structured where as the youngest siblings are more scatter brained. I believe this is due to the organization of my parents as they were new to the parenting scene. The more kids they had the less structured they could be and let things go a little more, resulting in less organized younger children. I believe the environmental factors and the situations people grow up in characterize one's personality.

I really find these kinds of studies fascinating. My mother is in a family of six and the oldest is definitely the most wild and crazy, but the second child is probably the most studious and scholarly. I am an only child and I often wonder what my supposed personality characteristics are like. I agree that a lot of families will fit their respective profile, but I think that many factors contribute to the personalities of children.

Sometimes I wonder if these types of studies and these huge generalizations are just that, generalizations. For example, this to be at all similar to when we talked about horoscopes. But also it creates me to wonder if people just seem to then allow themselves to be what society thinks they should be? If someone says your supposed to be rowdy, wouldn't you want to then proceed and do just that? How is it they can prove something that varies and could have as many causations as this.

Yeah I too am skeptical of the birth order discussion just because it sounds too general. Sure there are families that match this theory to a key. But at the same time, there are just as many families who are the exact opposite of this theory. My family is a perfect example, my younger brother was much more of an angel than I was. Not saying that I was a devil child but I raised more grief for my parents than my younger brother ever has. I know many more families that are the same as mine so I think it all depends on the family dynamic as well as the environment the children are raised in.

I fully believe that people just want an excuse to blame certain attributes on their children and birth order is the perfect one. Like you said in your post, it varies from family to family. Not every family is in the same situation that their neighbor is in or do they have the same lifestyles. Generalizing birth order is putting pressure on children to act certain ways. This raises the question, do children sometimes fit birth order stereotypes because of psychology or because society expects them to behave in certain ways. Correlation vs. Causation...

I think that this is an interesting topic but not that reliable. In my family the only part that really fits is my youngest sister. She is the troublesome one in the family. The rest of us are all organized and more well behaved. Some of my friends families have all wild children and some have all well behaved children. Overall i don't really buy into this but i still think it is pretty interesting

This is an interesting topic followed by critical discussions with persuasive examples. I totally agree. Families are first classes to most people. However, families are not instinct factors to decide everyone's path and are only a part of environmental factors as the world outside families is much bigger for everyone to explore in his or her own life. What is more important than the family perceptions of children's age-based attitudes and education is probably the culture the families are living with. For example, in some East Asian cultures, people attentively pronounce the importance of the first-born son of the family. Additionally, nowadays some East Asian families of upper-middle class spoiled the girls unconditionally without much expectations on their academic achievements as those families are able to pay off the girls future and are confident that the girls would marry to well-matched families. In a word, it is a topic worth to discuss from multiple angles.

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This page contains a single entry by witt0393 published on April 22, 2012 11:04 PM.

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