Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Birth Order: Science or Fiction?

I once interviewed a man who had written a book on how birth order affected the way a person behaved, the careers chosen and even how punctual that person would be.

When I called him, he answered on the first ring and said: "You must be a first-born...probably an only child. You're calling right on time."

"Uh, no...," I said. "I'm the youngest of three."

He went on to probe a little deeper into my background, and finally concluded the reason I was so punctual in calling him was because my sisters were so much older (seven and five years), so that meant I was "nearly" raised as an only child. That is what made me behave in such a way, he said.

I was reminded of that interview when I read the recent Time magazine story on "The Secrets of Birth Order."

According to the story, oldest siblings:

*May be better educated than younger siblings
*Likelier to hold a professional position
*More concerned with meeting parents' expectations
*Likelier to serve as family historian and guardian of aged parents
* Higher IQ than younger siblings

Middle siblings:
*May take longer to choose a career than other siblings
*Less connected to family, more to friends
*May de-identify from firstborn, making opposite life choices
*Lacks the parental recognition first-and last-borns enjoy; may develop self-esteem issues

Younger siblings:
*More tolerant of risk
*Likelier to be an artist, adventurer or entrepreneur
* Often physically smaller than firstborns
* Less likely to be vaccinated than firstborns
* Frequently funnier than other siblings

In my family, some of these are true and some are not. The story points out that the birth-order debate will "never be entirely settled," and families are often sloppy things and rules are often broken.

Still, it's sort of fun to try and see if our birth order determines where we land in life, and the kind of careers we choose. For my part, I'm a writer, received all my shots, am taller than my sisters...and oh, yeah....I'm way funnier.


No comments: