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May 5, 2008 8:23 AM   Subscribe

Are you an older sibling? Did you feel unfairly treated compared to your brothers and sisters? Well, now you have science to back you up. According to Games Parents and Adolescents Play, a new sociology study published in The Economic Journal, the oldest kid in the family really does bear the brunt of parental strictness, while the younger brothers and sisters generally coast on through.

"This reputation model of parent–child interactions yields two empirical predictions. First, parents with two or more children should be more willing to punish their older children who engage in risky behaviour in order to influence the actions of their later-born children. Second, to the extent that parents can establish such reputations, their older children are less likely to engage in risky behaviour as teens. In essence, the reputation model implies that risk-taking of adolescent offspring and parental responses to such behaviour vary systematically by birth order."
posted by netbros (67 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

 
According to anecdotal evidence, the oldest kid in the family really does bear the brunt of "Holy shit, we're parents and we're broke," while the younger brothers and sisters get to enjoy imported cars, premium television channels and vacation homes.
posted by infinitewindow at 8:33 AM on May 5, 2008 [1 favorite]


Great Post!

Anecdotal: while I've seen this play out true in many cases, I've known younger folks (all women, i think) who seemed to live under unreasonable, sometimes crazy parental strictness for a long time before gaining their parents trust. The cases aren't always identical. One woman's older bro was kinda lame, so her relative punkiness was seen as terrible by her rents. On the other hand, I have a friend who had two hellion older brothers, and was suffocated by her mother because of it. I could go on with others, but you get the idea...Kinda, gender switch = new ball game/stepped-up game. Also, I think there is occasionally the risky older bro. My uncle Pete was one, or see Francis on Malcolm in the Middle.
posted by es_de_bah at 8:34 AM on May 5, 2008


I'd like to think my elder brother's beating the living fuck out of me every chance he had balanced out any sort of parental favoritism that may have existed.
posted by Dr-Baa at 8:35 AM on May 5, 2008 [5 favorites]


Its always better being the eldest.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:36 AM on May 5, 2008


Speaking as a parent who is probably more strict with the oldest sibling, I can tell you it isn't because I/we want to influence later children. It's because we don't really know what we are doing.

It's like visiting another country or starting up on a new website. You lurk for a while to get the feel of the place. Except that the oldest child is always in new territory, age-wise, so they are always required to be more "conservative" or "in control" or whatever.

For instance, rules about how closely a child must be watched when they are, say, coloring with markers. With the first child, you watch them like a hawk. OMG, what if they color on something THAT ISN'T PAPER?!?! With a later child, you already know that's going to happen and you've either planned for it (color outside, use a sheet underneath, take a bath after, whatever) or you don't care (in this case, because everything is already covered in marker).
posted by DU at 8:36 AM on May 5, 2008 [13 favorites]


I'm with Dr-Baa. Personally though, I'm waiting for the study that proves youngest children (like me) lose an fashion consciousness as they live vicariously through their older siblings hand-me-downs.
posted by drezdn at 8:41 AM on May 5, 2008


I didn't know Captain Obvious was a sociologist.

But there you go.
posted by flippant at 8:47 AM on May 5, 2008 [1 favorite]


Another great example of the effect I'm talking about: As you get more experience with the children, you know more what they are like at a given age. I remember being quite strict with the first one when he was 2.5-3.5 "because he knows perfectly well that $X". Whereas with my current 2.5-3.5s I let plenty of stuff slide "because they are just babies".
posted by DU at 8:47 AM on May 5, 2008


As DU notes, first-time parents tend to be hyper-vigilant. Everything the child does is monitored and regulated because you are scared to death that something might go wrong. By the time the second kid is on the scene, the parents are way more experienced about how to handle everyday events. As a result they are much less likely to over-regulate the new child's behavior.
posted by oddman at 8:49 AM on May 5, 2008


It all balances out. We're probably more strict with the older one, but we've got his pictures plastered all over the place. The younger one got the shaft there.

Also, everything DU said. DU, didn't even know you were a parent!
posted by poppo at 8:51 AM on May 5, 2008 [1 favorite]


I didn't know Captain Obvious was a sociologist.

That's Dr. Obvious to you. She didn't spend 5 years working on her PhD to still be called captain.
posted by jlowen at 8:52 AM on May 5, 2008 [4 favorites]


When I start making new friends I like to ask them about their siblings as I've found this family relation is often a good predictor of character. I recently went on a volunteer work holiday and found all the dozen participants (except me) were first-born, earnest and responsible. I have come to think my older brothers had more impact on my sense of self in later life than my parents did.
posted by binturong at 8:54 AM on May 5, 2008


According to anecdotal evidence, the oldest kid in the family really does bear the brunt of "Holy shit, we're parents and we're broke," while the younger brothers and sisters get to enjoy imported cars, premium television channels and vacation homes.

You too? Anecdotally, I've heard that sometimes that kind of sucks, but then again the eldest got to open cans of whoop-ass for all those years, so probably the resentment goes both ways. Or so I heard, anyway.
posted by Forktine at 8:57 AM on May 5, 2008


Obviousness aside, it is useful for us to clarify and quantify what we think we know.

Just because "everyone knows something" doesn't mean it's accurate or even right. Common sense is commonly wrong.

And I know I'm right because I'm the oldest, smartest, best behaved brother of three kids.
posted by device55 at 8:58 AM on May 5, 2008 [2 favorites]


What Poppo said. There is approximately 38402340 hours of Super-8 film of my older brothers. There is about 10 seconds of me and I think one older brother is holding my head under water while the other one waves “hello” to the camera. By the time my parents had me the novelty had worn off. I think The Middle Child sucked all the joy of having kids and ruined it for me.

We get hand-me-downs, we get older siblings advising mom on proper punishments for us, we get older siblings watching our every move and telling mom. It’s not all a big fun-and-games-get-away-with-puking-beer-on-the-curtains free-for-all that it’s made out to be.

But hell yeah, we get away with a lot because our parents learn early on to choose their battles.
posted by bondcliff at 9:03 AM on May 5, 2008 [2 favorites]


My parents were each the youngest in their families and, as a result, they decided they would have only one child and that they would act as that child's older siblings. They thought this was funnier than I did.
posted by katillathehun at 9:04 AM on May 5, 2008


I'm the eldest child in my family...by about five minutes. Reading these kinds of generalizations gets me down.
posted by LN at 9:07 AM on May 5, 2008


Hah! Sweet, sweet vindication!
posted by robocop is bleeding at 9:12 AM on May 5, 2008 [1 favorite]


Where is the paper on why your older brother is such a dick?
posted by Mister_A at 9:16 AM on May 5, 2008 [2 favorites]


Eh - the data they used kind of sours it for me.

"This study uses data from the 1979 to 1996 waves of the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1979 (NLSY79)."

-The NLSY79 is a nationally representative sample of 12,686 young men and women who were 14-22 years old when they were first surveyed in 1979. These individuals were interviewed annually through 1994 and are currently interviewed on a biennial basis.

The moment of zen, from the article.
posted by cashman at 9:19 AM on May 5, 2008


"youngest children (like me) lose on fashion consciousness as they live vicariously through their older siblings hand-me-downs"

Hm... this rings true. I'm the youngest of five and, at 44 years old, have been wearing the same grey fleece that I got free through Freecycle and green sweatpants with the string missing for about five days.

I missed out on the imported cars, premium TV, and vacation homes. When was that part?
posted by crazylegs at 9:20 AM on May 5, 2008


I spent at least half of my high school career grounded for activities that later became the cornerstone of my younger brother's relationship with our Dad. I don't begrudge him that though. I feel like I've done my duty as an elder brother by arguing with my Mom enough so that she just tossed up her hands when it my brother's turn to do the same dumb shit.
posted by solipsophistocracy at 9:28 AM on May 5, 2008


My anecdotal evidence proves these conclusions truer than true. My sister did the same stupid shit I did in high school, but she didn't get punished for it nearly as severely as I did, because by the time she was doing it I had gotten into a good college and shown my parents that your kid doing stupid shit in high school won't keep them from fulfilling the dreams you have for them. Parents learn too- as they go, even.
posted by PhatLobley at 9:30 AM on May 5, 2008


Also, the oldest kids tend to be the most photographed: OMG SHE HAS HAIR NOW! It's the perk of novelty value. There is scant photo evidence of my youngest sibling ever being a toddler.
posted by eponymouse at 9:35 AM on May 5, 2008 [1 favorite]


Yet more proof that my family is full of freaks that don't do anything normal.
posted by miss lynnster at 9:38 AM on May 5, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'd rather be a Captain
posted by a robot made out of meat at 9:43 AM on May 5, 2008


in other news, water wet and ice has been found to be cold.

As the oldest of six, I fully understood my role as "Test Baby", and the commercial is true. The first gets the bassinette, the best food and premium childcare. By the third, a blanket on the floor is good enough, dirt is eaten and knives juggled. A mini-bike was too dangerous and braces "wouldn't help". My brother, child six, got a moped and a WV bug that my dad redid the wiring in. What cha gonna do.
@LN : you're not the oldest. The pair of you are, defeating the principle. My best friends family in Turkey ( I'm an air force brat) had nine kids bookended with twins, both fraternal. At that size, it becomes survival of the fittest...
posted by djrock3k at 9:43 AM on May 5, 2008


My parents were each the youngest in their families and, as a result, they decided they would have only one child and that they would act as that child's older siblings.

Dude, ditto on all that! My dad said, as he was bugging me and startling me, he was being the older brother I didn't have. Maybe there's another study waiting to happen.
posted by pummelo at 9:44 AM on May 5, 2008


Fuck this sort of thing. I'm the youngest (of 2) and I'm constantly being suffocated by my parents. (For example, if I go to the drug store after work, which means I would be home a grand total of a half hour later than normal, I get a string of panicked phone calls because OMG YOU COULD BE DEAD IN A DITCH.) Whereas my older brother, if he makes plans to come over to help my dad with something and doesn't show up until 3 DAYS LATER, there's no problem.

(With regards to pictures, there's shitloads more of me than my brother, for whatever reason. Probably due to my mother being an overprotective ass.)
posted by sperose at 9:51 AM on May 5, 2008


Oldest of 4 kids here. I have two sisters, one is 2 years younger than I, the other is 12 years younger. My brother is 7 years younger.

I remember when I was 18 or so that my sister (the one 2 years younger than I) got into a fight with my mom. It was over a boy she wanted to date -- apparently he was a bit too "gangsta-ish" for my mom's taste. Towards the end of the argument, in a fit of anger, my sister screamed "OH GO TO HELL I HATE YOU SO MUCH" at my mom and ran into her room, slamming the door behind her.

I asked my mom what she intended to do about that insult. "Oh, nothing," she said, "I'm sure your sister will come around eventually." I then pointed out -- correctly, I might add -- that if I had ever told her to "go to hell", she would have:

1) Thrashed me to within an inch of my life
2) Waited for Dad to come home so he could thrash me to within another inch of my life
3) Grounded me for at least six months
4) Thrown away my Sega Genesis
5) Never let me forget that I insulted my Precious Mother in such a terrible way.

My mom then conceded that I was raised with a different standard, and that both she and Dad had "mellowed out" considerably after having their second child. What struck me, though, was that I was still treated harshly even after mom and dad had mellowed out with the other kids. To this day, my (now adult) sister is given quite a few free rides by my parents (they recently gave her $20,000 of their own savings to buy a new house), whereas I'm expected to take care of myself -- which is fine, I guess, since I do a pretty good job of that.

Still, there is a part of me that wishes I was #2 instead of #1.

Also, church attendance was MANDATORY every Sunday and Wendesday night for my entire childhood. My little brother, on the other hand, is 17 and hasn't gone to church since he was 14. Ironically, he still believes in God and I don't. Being forced to go to church every week will do that to you.
posted by Avenger at 9:55 AM on May 5, 2008 [2 favorites]


One of my best friends did her PhD on birth order and mating strategies. Turns out that eldest-borns tend to pair up with each other, and youngest-borns tend to pair up with each other, and middle-borns will go with anybody.

Anecdotal evidence: I'm married to an eldest-born, and most of our friends are eldest-borns. The only two youngest-borns in our circle of friends are now dating each other.

Her study was replicated in Japan, so it's a finding that crosses cultures.
(Also, it really sucks to be asian and female and eldest-born. My younger brothers got away with SO MUCH more than I ever did.)
posted by wenat at 10:06 AM on May 5, 2008 [2 favorites]


The last time we were both home over break, my younger sister and I got into a fight. Five minutes later I get cornered with the massive parental lecture about being having to be nice and reasonable to other people because anger only makes you unattractive and don't raise your voice because that's not what civilized people do in conversation, while she gets the occasional "and this goes for you too" directed in the general vicinity of the next room where she's merrily typing away to online friends and completely free to ignore anything she might hear through the wall.

She started it too.
posted by casarkos at 10:10 AM on May 5, 2008 [1 favorite]


This pattern is reflected in the birthing process, as well. One friend of mine put in this way: when you have your first child, before he or she is born, you make sure you have the suitcase packed, that you have a map to the hospital, the doctor's phone number on hand, etc. By the time the fourth child gets here, when labor starts, you are like, huh, we should probably be making our way over to hospital now. Let's wait until our show is over.
posted by SpacemanStix at 10:10 AM on May 5, 2008 [2 favorites]


I think I'm with Miss Lynnster on this one: my family is apparently not normal, according to this study. C'mon MissL! Let's wreck that curve!
posted by LN at 10:11 AM on May 5, 2008


There is sometimes the case of an oldest sibling being given freedom which is quite ruthlessly, and surreptitiously abused, and when the parents figure it out they make sure not to make the same mistake with their next kids.
posted by caddis at 10:28 AM on May 5, 2008


My younger brothers both beat the crap out of me. They even taught the dog to terrorize me. On the other hand, I had almost no rules -- I could come home whenever I wanted at night, my parents only checking in on me when my grades came back and weren't what they were hoping for, and I often left school early to hitch hike into Minneapolis to see second-run movies or punk shows, and they neither knew nor cared.

Smoke in your pipe and put that in, sociologists.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:32 AM on May 5, 2008


As I am currently reading books on Buddhism in order to keep myself from committing sororicide, I shall refrain from commenting further in this thread... other than to say this.
posted by miss lynnster at 10:34 AM on May 5, 2008


I asked my mom what she intended to do about that insult. "Oh, nothing," she said, "I'm sure your sister will come around eventually." I then pointed out -- correctly, I might add -- that if I had ever told her to "go to hell", she would have...

On behalf of younger siblings everywhere, can I just say:

Mind your own goddamn business and let mom figure out the discipline thing on her own. This is the sort of thing you do that makes us younger siblings grow up and smash holes in the plaster at our therapist's office and self-medicate with paint thinner.
posted by bondcliff at 10:40 AM on May 5, 2008 [3 favorites]


One of my best friends did her PhD on birth order and mating strategies. Turns out that eldest-borns tend to pair up with each other, and youngest-borns tend to pair up with each other, and middle-borns will go with anybody.

Doesn't surprise me. In my romantic relationships, I've generally gotten along better with and had a much less stressful relationship with the women who were also first-borns, compared to the ones who grew up as younger siblings where there was a much more obvious culture clash.
posted by deanc at 10:44 AM on May 5, 2008


Bullfuckingshit.

My older brother, wherever he is, once blamed me because I was "the favorite." (That's his usage, not mine. There are just the two of us.) Well, older brother, what the hell were you doing for those sixteen years before I came along? Aside from pulling down good grades, joining the Marines, and working for Sperry-Rand?

And guess who took care of the 'rents when they were sick and dying? Older bro? Hell no!

He never bothered to show up for our mother's funeral. I haven't seen him in about 20 years.

So there are exceptions.

My inamorata is the eldest of eight, if that means anything.
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 10:51 AM on May 5, 2008


This study is accurate. I'm the elder, and man, when I was 14 I couldn't even have a boy in my room with the door closed. But my sister at 14... oh NO, she was all out in the garage having lesbian coke orgies* while my parents went about their business, blithely unconcerned. I wasn't allowed to go to a friend's house if their parents weren't there; she got to take "Jeff, the guy who she met behind that one dumpster that one time" and go to Barcelona for three weeks and she had to come back with a police escort because of the Unpleasantness* but did our parents even bat an eye? They did not.
But I got my revenge, oh yes I did. Take your freedoms and see how much good they do you when I'm locking you out of the house in a snowstorm**, or barricading you in the pantry for six hours**, or throwing you into a filing cabinet**. Wench.

*Not true.
**True.

My sister is totally sitting at work reading this right now. Hi Cara!
posted by Dormant Gorilla at 10:52 AM on May 5, 2008


I'd like to think my elder brother's beating the living fuck out of me every chance he had balanced out any sort of parental favoritism that may have existed.
Hear-fuckin'-hear.
posted by MrMoonPie at 10:55 AM on May 5, 2008


So, this article is about how the eldest get the brunt of the discipline, and the youngest gets a free ride?

And, once again, the middle kid is forgotten.
posted by jabberjaw at 11:03 AM on May 5, 2008


I remember the sad day when I could no longer hold down my two younger brothers, one with each hand.

And yes, I married a fellow oldest sibling. Twice, in fact. Yes, that means two different oldest siblings, smartass.
posted by languagehat at 11:17 AM on May 5, 2008


I do think that the generalizations about oldest-middle-youngest children tend to be true. A popular treatment is Kevin Leman's The Birth Order Book.

I was in a class a couple of years ago in my D.Min. (Doctor of Ministry) program, and the topic of birth order and its influence on personality came up. One of my peers was scoffing at the notion, so I said: "Everyone of us in this class, students and professors alike, is the oldest child of their sex in their family. Take a poll."

Now, it wasn't a huge class--eight students and two professors, but I was right. There were no exceptions. (Obviously there could have been, but I would have been really surprised if more than two of us our of ten weren't firstborn. I got lucky with 100%.)

"How did you know?"

"It's not hard. Preachers tend to be firstborn, and doctoral students tend to be firstborn. So when you meet a preacher who is also maxing out his education, easy money is on firstborn."

I just wish I had made him put some money on the table first.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 11:20 AM on May 5, 2008 [1 favorite]


My parents were permissive with my older brothers, saw where they believed that led, and came down on us younger kids with the thumbscrews.
posted by maxwelton at 11:23 AM on May 5, 2008


What about the middle child, forgotten by the side of the road-of-life by parents too busy doting on bratty youngest and bossy oldest? Who wants to deal with our identity issues?

What about us, huh? Anyone?

Hello?
posted by Solon and Thanks at 11:44 AM on May 5, 2008


Interesting about dating, seeing as how I'm divorced from a youngest and very happily involved with a fellow oldest.

The phenomenon I see, both in me and my kids, is the more cautious, responsible and bookish eldest vs. the more decisive, athletic, adorable and horribly spoiled selfish bratty little tattle-tale youngest.
posted by msalt at 12:01 PM on May 5, 2008


This is interesting from two perspectives: one, as the older sibling (and yes, my bastard brother did get away with more, got to drive the car to school his senior year while I was stuck on the damn bus, GOD); and two, from the perspective of a stepparent.

From the parenting perspective: I don't treat the oldest any differently than the younger two, because I had the same learning curve for all of them. The oldest has more responsibilities as far as chores, but that's because he's significantly older (I became a full-time stepparent when they were 4, 7 and 11) and can do more. If anything, it gets spread around. The oldest has more chores, but also more leeway; the middle is difficult in his own right but his issues have less to do with birth order than with his mother; and the youngest is babied a little bit, but also more is expected of him earlier because we have the examples of his older brothers to draw from. Spawn 3.0 is expected to be able to get his own breakfast and start his own shower because at his age, Spawn 2.0 was already doing those things, for example.

I definitely see some of the theories here played out in my childhood; things were literally taken away from me to be given to my younger brother (like that car, DAMMIT), I had a curfew and he never did, I was expected to get decent grades and they just threw their hands up at him. However, this can't all be laid at the feet of birth order, because my parents separated and eventually divorced when I was 19 and my brother was 16. So I was done being parented, essentially, and my dad was gone and my mom was too screwed up over being cheated on and left to pay a lot of attention to her kid.

Well, I guess that is kind of birth order due to the timing of the split, but still. I think there's something to be said for this study, but as with everything else, there are exceptions and extenuating circumstances. I'm still mad about that car, though.
posted by jennaratrix at 12:12 PM on May 5, 2008


And yes, I married a fellow oldest sibling.

I did as well, although I would have thought it to be more rare than it actually is. Two oldest siblings will usually have to decide who's 'in charge' (or steers the ship, gives direction or advice, or whatever) of a given activity, which doesn't cater well to a natural melding of personalities. If I were to guess, I would think that oldest and middle or youngest siblings would naturally match up.
posted by SpacemanStix at 12:18 PM on May 5, 2008


As oldest I also find myself the peacemaker in family disputes. Typical?
posted by msalt at 12:38 PM on May 5, 2008


I was the oldest of three kids in my family. The first two of us were boys, the youngest was a girl. Our sister lost out a bit on things like organized activities and sports, probably because our parents were sick of carting us around to stuff like that by the time she arrived on the scene, but otherwise...holy hell, did she ever get spoiled rotten.
posted by The Card Cheat at 12:39 PM on May 5, 2008


Hi, only children exist too.

Sometimes non-only children even mate with us.
posted by birdie birdington at 12:47 PM on May 5, 2008 [2 favorites]


Onlies apparently have most of the characteristics of eldest-borns, and tend to go with eldest-borns, according to my friend.

In our marriage of two eldest-borns, we don't find very much conflict in our decision-making process. Yes, we both want to steer the ship, but they're usually different ships that we care about. (He gets to deal with the money and bills, I get to spend the money on vacations. We consult with each other on the bigger picture, and then take care of the smaller details on our own.)

We know when we need our own private "down-time" (is this an eldest-born thing?) and leave each other alone for that. And we have our own private hobbies (he bikes, I knit) and we leave other space for those hobbies. For me, being eldest-born with two younger brothers has meant that I value privacy and "me-time" and it's great to have a partner who gets that, gives me my space, and doesn't need to be with me 24/7.
posted by wenat at 1:33 PM on May 5, 2008


If I were to guess, I would think that oldest and middle or youngest siblings would naturally match up.

One thing that Kevin Leman says in his birth order books is that the best marriages usually are between an oldest and youngest child, particularly if each spouse has opposite-sex siblings. Other matches can work well, of course, but in oldest and oldest marriages there is usually an effort to figure out who is in charge of what, and in youngest-youngest marriages, someone has to remember to pay the bills and set-up a budget. As I recall, he says middle children usually have a mixture of both sets of characteristics, and can be good matches with either, depending. Leman thinks that middle children naturally develop gifts in diplomacy and bridge-building due to their position.

Again, there are plenty of exceptions, but as general truths, those are worth considering.

I dated nothing but firstborns before my wife, and we never could work it out. Mrs. Aletheias is a middle child, and out relationship was smoother from the start.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 1:59 PM on May 5, 2008


One thing that Kevin Leman says in his birth order books is that the best marriages usually are between an oldest and youngest child, particularly if each spouse has opposite-sex siblings.

Please stop it. You cannot quantify happiness or marital happiness or marital success. Gay people exist, trans people exist, open relationships exist, divorced and remarried and half sibling and step sibling families exist, adopted people with complex histories exist.

Cheerleading for the status quo isn't useful.
posted by birdie birdington at 2:25 PM on May 5, 2008


You cannot quantify happiness or marital happiness or marital success.

Sure you can. You ask people "how happy are you, on a scale of 1-10?"

Is it a perfect measure? Of course not. One person's 6 is another's 8. That doesn't make it meaningless.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 2:59 PM on May 5, 2008


You cannot quantify happiness or marital happiness or marital success.

It doesn't seem unreasonable to ask what variables make for a happy marriage, as we do it all the time. And usually, personality types play a large part of that discussion, of which birth order may or may not play a part in developing.

I think the things that you mention don't suggest that we shouldn't consider variables for marital success, but that they may be much more complicated, when discussing relationships across the board.

Of course, complicated isn't necessarily equivalent to being wrong, either, and I think our discussion has been more of a descriptive analysis than a normative one. In my case, although I may get along better with someone who is not a firstborn at times, my wife is definitely the one for me, and I don't think anyone is calling that into question.
posted by SpacemanStix at 3:08 PM on May 5, 2008


You're right, sorry. I exaggerated and wasn't totally clear. I certainly enjoyed this book which attempts to quantify some happiness. I was more taking issue with the useless anecdotes in relation to Kevin Lehman who has apparently given the world such gifts as a Christian online dating service based on his research in birth-order dynamics and books titled Becoming the Parent God Wants You to Be and What A Difference A Daddy Makes.

I call that a big fat harmful agenda.
posted by birdie birdington at 3:24 PM on May 5, 2008


Hi, only children exist too.

My one daughter heard (and says) that term as "lonly children". "He's a lonly child." But that's just the kind of cutesy-pie thing a youngest would do.
posted by msalt at 4:34 PM on May 5, 2008


You cursed older siblings!!!
posted by jabberjaw at 4:34 PM on May 5, 2008


Dude, ditto on all that! My dad said, as he was bugging me and startling me, he was being the older brother I didn't have. Maybe there's another study waiting to happen.

Those are the exact words my parents used!

People always joke "Oh, so you're spoiled!" when they find out I'm an only child, and I laugh and say "Yeah, that's me!" to humor them when I really kinda want to kick them in the shins.
posted by katillathehun at 4:42 PM on May 5, 2008 [1 favorite]


When I was born, my brother and sister were 17 and 16, respectively. They both got married and left home when I was five. (My parents were around 40 when I was born.) There was no fighting (although my brother would occasionally pick me up, lift me over his head, and tell me he was going to wrap me around the light bulb—but he never did it). There was none of the "sibling rivalry" stuff I've heard so much about.

So how do I fit into this taxonomy? Am I more like a youngest, or an only? Or am I some bizarre sport of nature, from whom oldest, middle, and youngest alike flee in terror (as I've always suspected)?
posted by Crabby Appleton at 6:30 PM on May 5, 2008


You're probably closest to being an "only." They say that if there are 5 years or more between siblings, the next child starts the count over again.
posted by wenat at 7:18 PM on May 5, 2008


There is scant photo evidence of my youngest sibling ever being a toddler.

Seems like obvious evidence they were adopted. I hope you used this for evil.
posted by graventy at 7:43 PM on May 5, 2008


My love in an only child, like me.

I'm sure that soon the selfishness vortex will grow to consume the entire planet.
posted by SeanMac at 11:15 PM on May 5, 2008


Ha. Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! I'm the youngest in the family but I'm a girl. This generalisation does not apply to me at all. I'm not bitter.
posted by liquorice at 5:13 AM on May 6, 2008


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