Birth Order And The Third-Born Syndrome

There have been several studies over the years about the subject of birth order, and how it correlates with personality traits in children. You may have heard some of the statistics. 21 of the first 23 astronauts were firstborn. Most Nobel laureates are firstborn. Almost all U.S. presidents are either firstborn or firstborn sons. These are all interesting anecdotes, but the data is flawed, and according to new research, family size is equally important as birth order in determining characteristics of siblings.

It’s a tricky subject to study, but I do find it interesting. And I do believe there is some truth to the oldest child being more driven and competitive. Though I’m a firstborn, and am arguably the least successful of my siblings at this point, given I’m unemployed, and up at 11:02 pm writing about birth order after spending an exhausting day with my four children, whose goals in life consist of tormenting one another to the point where they either kill each other, or I kill them for driving me mental.

Anyway, the reason the subject is on my mind is because Justin’s kindergarten “lap reading” log for the month of March is hanging on my refrigerator. And every time I see it, I see that there are only two books written on it. And then I feel terribly guilty, because we have actually read more than two books together, but I didn’t bother to write them down. And because even though we’ve read more than two books together, it’s not nearly enough to fill the whole page.

Justin is our third child to go through kindergarten. When my firstborn, David, went to kindergarten, we read religiously. Every night. And I’d write down the title of the book on the log. And I’d make sure that we read different books every day. And then at the end of the month he’d draw a picture of his favorite book, and write down why it was his favorite, and we’d put it in his folder, and he’d turn it in on the first school day of the new month.

I think I’ve managed to hand Justin’s in maybe two or three times this year.

Yeah, you probably don't want this middle-born kid who wears a bike helmet while eating leftover noodles as your wingman.

So when it comes to birth order, my theory is, that by the time parents get down the line, they’re just too worn out to give a shit anymore, and basically just phone it in with the other kids, figuring they’ll fend for themselves. If parents are as diligent with their third child as they are with their first, I’m willing to bet that they are completely psychotic micromanagers who are overly involved in every aspect of their children’s lives.

So hopefully Justin won’t suffer a lower quality of life because we haven’t read as much Dr. Seuss as we did with David. I’m not too worried about that. There are probably so many other things I’ve done to contribute to the content of his future therapy sessions that the reading log will be pretty far down the list.

© Jennifer Alys Windholz, 2012


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