One of our children posted a picture on Facebook recently that got me thinking about the subject of today's blog post. Here's the picture:
Which of our children posted that picture? No fair telling if you saw it on Facebook!
When we were a young couple we read a lot of books about marriage and parenting. Neither of us grew up in the kind of home that we wanted our children to experience, so we did a lot of "borrowing brains" from people who enjoyed the kind of home we wanted to have. One of our favorite books about child rearing is called Know Your Child, by Joe Temple. We had always heard that you should try to treat all your children the same. In his book, Joe Temple maintains that parents cannot and should not deal with all their children in exactly the same way. Each child is unique, and what works with one child will often have the opposite effect with another child in the same family.
We began to see the wisdom in what he was saying when our second child Nora came along. It took no time at all for us to learn that she was very different in tastes and temperament from her older sister Megan. What had soothed Megan as a newborn noticeably irritated Nora. And the differences continued to manifest themselves as Nora grew. So when Mark came along, we weren't at all surprised that he was different from his sisters in his tastes and preferences.
Joe Temple's premise is that it is the parents' responsibility to get to know each of their children well so that they can guide each child's development. In encouraging children's good behavior and in correcting children's misbehavior it's vital to know what will be the most attention grabbing for that child so that the reward or discipline will have its greatest impact. What would have been torture to one of our children would have been almost a reward to one of the others, and vice versa — not at all what you want the child to experience. Another area is when to allow children certain freedoms. Some are ready at a younger age than siblings might be. We highly recommend this book to young parents.
Another book we read concerning differences in children was The Birth Order Book: Why You Are the Way You Are, by Dr. Kevin Leman. While we could see the veracity of some tendencies in ourselves and our children, we weren't sure that it was entirely accurate in its portrayal of firstborns, middle children, last borns, and only children. Many factors in a child's life come into play in addition to and besides their place in birth order — individual temperaments, family size, genders of the children, family make up (blended, adoption/s, etc.), physicality (body size, health, etc.), giftedness or special needs, age gaps between children, and undoubtedly many more. Any of those factors could render inaccurate some or all generalities made about birth order.
In preparation for this post I read quite a few sites related to birth order, some of which totally rejected the whole notion of generalities. I thought it would be fun to post my findings from these sites (many of which are corroborated in Dr. Leman's book) and to see what my readers have to say about all this as they look at themselves and their siblings, and at their children and grandchildren.
Here's a compilation of what I found about the characteristics of children, according to their birth order.
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