There is a lot of emphasis on birth order and the impact it has on the way children turn out. Like the study that claims first born children are more conservative and intelligent or the widely discussed “middle child syndrome”.
Now there is a study claiming birth order affects the likelihood of delinquency. It seems that second born children are more likely to get themselves into hot water with the law than their smarter, and obviously more rule abiding, older siblings. Specifically, the researchers found that second born boys are 40% more likely to get locked up than their first born brothers.
Personally, I’m a little shocked they needed to do an extensive cross-continent, research-intensive study to find this out. They could have just spent an hour at my place.
I don’t think anyone who knows my kids would argue the fact that my first born son is very smart, sensible and rule abiding, while by comparison his younger brother is pure anarchy.
The study alludes that having a sibling as an early role model, as opposed to being predominately surrounded by sensible adults, is perhaps one of the reasons that second born kids can get a little wild.
This of course leads to the main suspect of why second borns turn out to be delinquents: maternal attention. Or more specifically, lack there of.
Yep, mums apparently drop the ball by going back to the workforce sooner with their second child, and of course, the poor darlings don’t get as much undivided adult attention when they are infants. Since there is two of them and all.
Interestingly, if girls are second born, the rates of delinquency are not so high. I wonder if this is the same for third born girls? Because if my second born son is going to jail, I’m quietly confident that his little sister will be a willing accomplice in whatever gets him there.
All jokes and sarcasm aside, I really struggle when findings are publicised on studies like these. Who are they helping? The researchers for this study purport this information could be used to inform societal change around maternity leave for mothers having subsequent children. But I fail to see how this can be realistically implemented.
Every family unit is different. Many women need to work to help support their families or maybe even just because that’s what they want to do to lead a fulfilling life. Putting pressure on women to have a certain amount of maternity leave for each baby, in order to try to circumvent the possibility that your second born child might end up in juvy seems a little ridiculous to me.
Mothers have enough to feel guilty about already. If we have more than one kid, we feel guilty our time is divided. If we only have one kid, we feel guilty about depriving them of a sibling. If we go back to work we feel guilty for being away from them. If we don’t work, we feel guilty for not being able to buy them the sun, moon and stars.
Enough with the guilt.
Kids have been born second for as long as being born was a thing. Plenty of first borns end up in jail and I’m sure plenty of second borns have won a Nobel Prize.
Yes, there are some characteristics that seem to be inherent thanks to birth order. Kind of in the same way some characteristics seem inherent to certain star signs.
All we can do as parents, is do the best we can at the time. Teach your child to be a good human, who makes good choices, regardless of their birth order and let them be the people they are destined to be.