- Whether parents realize it or not, every family has favorites. Do parents realize they have a favorite? If or when a parent becomes aware of parental favoritism would or could anything change? Can favoritism affect a child’s potential?
- The best living arrangement of all (with regard to substance abuse) includes three adults – typically, mom, dad, and a grandparent. However, 59% of children will live in a single parent household at some point in their formative years. Children of single mothers had substance abuse problems only 1% greater than the children of two biological parents. Explore and explain.
- The one thing you can bet your paycheck on is the First Born Child and Second Born Child in any given family are going to be different. If the second born is superior physically or intellectually, how does the first born cope? Is the Second Born Child ever the favorite?
- Scientists at Cambridge University have found that arguments between brothers and sisters actually increase social skills, vocabulary and development. Chinese children do worse in [social skills] tests than British and American children because of [China’s] “one-child” policy. Can China’s future international relations and policies be predicted by its now relaxed family planning experiment (1978-2015)? Is it apparent in today’s headlines?
- The First Born Child is a perfectionist, reliable, conscientious, a list maker, well organized, hard driving, a natural leader, critical, serious, scholarly, logical, doesn’t like surprises, a techie. The Only Child is a super or extreme version of a First Born Child. Are Only Child expectations positively extreme or morbidly excessive?
The relationship of family to disease, addiction, sadness and happiness.
Birthing order and number of children. Family situation both parents, one parent, divorce, widow, grandparents.
Dr. Ellen Weber Libby, The Favorite Child,
Whether parents realize it or not, every family has favorites.
Does every family have favorites? If children were parented equally would they turn out the same?
Do parents realize they have a favorite? If or when a parent becomes aware of parental favoritism would or could anything change?
Who fares better in the long run the favorite or the neglected? Which is more difficult a family favorite who discovers the world doesn’t favor them or a neglected that the world seems to favor?
“If I were to be absolutely honest, my older son is my favorite.”
reductio ad absurdum
All families have favorites.
Family favorites do better.
Family neglected do worse.
Dr. Kevin Leman, The Birth Order Book: Why You Are the Way You Are,
The one thing you can bet your paycheck on is the firstborn and second-born in any given family are going to be different. If the second born is superior physically or intellectually, how does the first born cope?
Is birthing order significant? Is the first born always superior? Is the second born always striving?
German researchers found that birth order had no effect on five key personality traits: extroversion, emotional stability, agreeableness, conscientiousness and imagination.
Scientists at Cambridge University have found that arguments between brothers and sisters actually increase social skills, vocabulary and development.
First is the Worst, Second is the Best, Third is the one with the Hairy ChestÖ
First born is worst born.
Second born is different and best.
If birth order has no effect on key personality traits, how is second born best?
Which Traits Fit You Best?
Which of the following sets of personality traits fits you the best? You don’t have to meet all the criteria in a certain list of traits. Just pick the list that has the most items that seem to describe you and your way of operating in life.
A. perfectionist, reliable, conscientious, a list maker, well organized, hard driving, a natural leader, critical, serious, scholarly, logical, doesn’t like surprises, a techie
B. mediator, compromising, diplomatic, avoids conflict, independent, loyal to peers, has many friends, a maverick, secretive, used to not having attention
C. manipulative, charming, blames others, attention seeker, tenacious, people person, natural salesperson, precocious, engaging, affectionate, loves surprises
D. little adult by age seven, very thorough, deliberate, high achiever, self-motivated, fearful, cautious, voracious reader, black-and-white thinker, talks in extremes, can’t bear to fail, has very high expectations for self, more comfortable with people who are older or younger
If you noted that this test seemed rather easy because A, B, and C listed traits of the oldest right on down to the youngest in the family, you’re right.
If you picked A, it’s a very good bet you’re a firstborn in your family.
If you chose B, chances are you are a middleborn child (secondborn of three children, or possibly thirdborn of four).
If C seemed to relate best to who you are, it’s likely you are the baby in the family and are not at all happy that this book has no pictures. (Just kidding–I like to have a little extra fun with lastborns because I’m one myself. More on that later.)
But what about D? It describes the only child, and I threw it in because in recent years I have been getting more and more questions from only children because families in general are having fewer children. These only children (also known as “lonely onlies”) know they are firstborns but want to know how they are different from people who have siblings.
Well, one way they are different is that the only child is a super or extreme version of a firstborn. They have many of the same characteristics of firstborns, but in many ways they’re in a class by themselves. More on that in chapter 7.
Notice that regarding each major birth order, I always qualify the characteristics by saying “good bet” or “chances are.” Not all characteristics fit every person in that birth order. In fact, a firstborn may have baby characteristics, a lastborn can sometimes act like a firstborn in certain areas, and middle children may seem to be firstborns. I’ve seen onlies who you would swear were youngest children. There are reasons for these inconsistencies, which I’ll explain as we go along.
Middle children get a bad rap—they’re often stereotyped as the black sheep, overlooked by parents and overshadowed by older and younger siblings. But certain middle child personality traits give them special, badass hidden powers.
Broken Heart Syndrome
Dr. Nicholas Christakis, M.D., The Harvard Medical School study
Our study shows that people are connected in such a fashion that the health of one person is related to the health of another,
Broken heart syndrome most often takes place in older people who have been together for a long time.
Can one really die from a broken heart?
Is dying from a broken heart the best way to die?
You can die of a broken heart — it’s scientific fact —
Granville Stanley Hall; in his 1896 study, Of Peculiar and Exceptional Children,
Being an only child is a disease in itself. Is being an only child pure love or pure indulgence?
Is being an only child a disease? Is being an only child a blessing?
Only Child myths include: an only child is lonely, and depressed, has imaginary friends to balance out their loneliness, violent and pushy, selfish, dependent, spoiled, does not have their own original ideas and views, lacks talent.
Being an only child is a disease.
Only child myths have been debunked.
Only children are no different than those with siblings.
…Chinese children do worse in [social skills] tests than British and American children because of [China’s] “one-child” policy.
Bella DePaulo Ph.D., Children of Single Mothers: How Do They Really Fare?
The best living arrangement of all (with regard to substance abuse) included three adults – typically, mom, dad, and a grandparent.
Is a broken family always bad? Is having a grandparent always good?
59% of children will live in a single parent household at some point in their formative years.
Having both parents and at least one grand parent is the best family living arrangement.
More than half of American children will live in a single parent household at some point in their formative years.
Do the best children come from households with three familial adults? Do single parent families produce the worst kids.
Children of single mothers had substance problems only 1% greater than the children of two biological parents.
Children of single mothers had substance problems — 5.7% — and how similar the number was for the children of two biological parents — 4.5%. A difference of about one percentage point is not a very big return on twice the love, attention, and resources.
It would actually be a lot easier to talk about “good dads” in the Bible, rather than the “bad dads,” because there were a LOT of bad dads, but very few good ones.
The Bible talks about bad dads.
Humans tend to remember emotional events, so if your parents divorced, the emotional tumult will act as an anchor within your interior seascape.
”Hollywood is significantly responsible for the infantilization of America,” says Leon Wieseltier, the cultural editor of The New Republic. ”Almost all those movies that are not suitable for children are irredeemably childish.”
The Bible and Family (Matthew 10:34-36)
Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household.
Parenting’s Most Important Role
Aristotle said that a parent’s primary duty should develop a child’s capacity to reason about, and to understand, what is right and what is wrong. If a single parent has favorites but teaches each to reason right from wrong has that parented righted the wrong of favoritism? Does good reasoning trump bad parenting? Can abused children reason their way out of their past?
The Hero is usually the oldest child in the family and their role is to over achieve, to be over responsible.
Often the youngest child in the family assumes the role of Mascot.
The Scapegoat brings the family together in a perverse way, and can make them feel good about themselves by comparison.
The Lost Child goes unnoticed and can disappear for hours.
The enabler means well but their efforts are counterproductive – for the addict and for themselves. This person is usually the closest to the addicted person, and their aim is to help the addict. But the reality is that they do things that allow the addicted person to continue their behavior without facing the consequences. For example, they might cover up or make excuses for the addict’s behavior at work or school or with friends. Or the enabler will take care of tasks that should be attended to by the addict, like paying bills, or work around the house, or getting the car serviced – or a hundred other things that the addict should be taking care of but is unable or unwilling to do. The enabler does all this because it is painful for them to confront the reality of their predicament and is desperate to protect themselves and their family. In the end, though, the enabler is left exhausted and angry – and the addict is no closer to getting better. In fact, the addict is getting the message that they don’t have to confront their drug problem because someone will always be there to save them.
This person is usually the oldest child in the family and their role is to over achieve, to be over responsible. They will typically be model students and, later, very career-oriented. In families wracked by shame and guilt over addiction in the home, here is a family member they can point to with pride. This child may take on the responsibilities of the addict father and become the family breadwinner at an early age. Or he may become the surrogate husband, giving his mother the emotional support she should be getting from her spouse. Heroes are seen as having it all together, as being mature and responsible. The price for putting all their energy into achieving, though, is that these heroes of the family rarely feel good inside. Instead of being in touch with who they are and what they require, they have sacrificed their emotional lives trying to preserve the family unit.
In families made dysfunctional by addiction, one of the children will assume the role of the troublesome child. Here is someone whose bad behavior can be acknowledged by family members – unlike that of the addict. The scapegoat brings the family together in a perverse way, and can make them feel good about themselves by comparison. This child also provides family members with a focus that enables them to avoid facing their own problems. In a situation at the breaking point with stress over the addict’s behavior, the scapegoat becomes a means of releasing anger and frustration.
4. Lost Child
This role is assumed by the child who has decided that the best way of surviving in the home made unsafe by addiction is to keep a low profile. This child is often the one who has not received as much love and care as his siblings. The lost child goes unnoticed and can disappear for hours. They learn not to ask questions that might upset others, and they recognize that the best way to avoid attracting critical attention is to keep to themselves. Because they are “out of sight, they are also out of mind”, and usually feel unimportant.
Often the youngest child in the family assumes this role. By the time this child comes along, the family dynamic has deteriorated to a serious state of dysfunction. This is the child who is coddled and kidded, who is a source of amusement for family members. The older siblings are well practiced in their various compensatory survival roles, and their tendency is to want to protect the youngest member. They may withhold information from this child and pretend for his sake that all is well. Yet despite all the efforts to protect this child from the truth, he cannot help but discover over time that something is drastically wrong with his family dynamic. Though he may not be able to name it as addiction, it affects him just the same.
Opportunity vs Potential