Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The Smart One and the Other

I have been reading student journals from my family class. We discussed birth order and sibling competition this time. We studied Frank Sulloway's theory that children are in a Darwinian competition for parental attention. They have to differentiate themselves from their siblings. The first-borns get first choice, so they tend to try to monopolize the things that the parents value. My students are overwhelmingly first-borns or only children. Since Centre is a highly academic place, we tend to get first-borns who emphasized academic learning.

I have also been hearing about the niches chosen by the later-born children. I knew many of the options - sports, art, music, religion, service, or sheer rebellion.

Listening to the women, though, I have heard several times that sisters sometimes differentiate into "the smart one" and "the pretty one."

This made me wonder what the male equivalent would be. The closest I can get is "the smart one" and "the funny one." But the parallel is not as common or exact.

So far this is just an educated guess.


Quotidian Grace said...

I think brothers divide into "the jock" (athlete) and the smart one.

Michael Kruse said...

I'm the youngest of four, two older sisters and an older brother.

They say the way the youngest usually competes is by being the rebel or being the clown. That makes sense because the older children are likely to be as competent, or more so, in the younger child's core competency simply because they are more mature at any given moment. Rebel or clown feels like the only way to get noticed.

All the older children in my family, and my parents, are Myers-Briggs sensing types, while I'm and extreme intuitive. Not by design, but by circumstance, I became different from the others because of my intellectual pursuits. All my siblings were high academic achievers, as was I, but my subject matter was very different. To this day at family gatherings, I get my 5-10 minutes of "what Mike is doing" in and then the rest of the conversation is always on to more "practical" matters. :-) I guess in a sense my intellectualism was a form of rebellion.

Kerri said...

I don't have much experience with brothers, but from what I know of friends, I would suggest that athleticism would come into play there.

But, I also know of three brothers who are the math guy, the book guy, and the music guy.

Mac said...

I never thought much about it. Along with my eldest son, my sister-in-law, three of my neighbors, and many close friends, all of whom are the eldest, I have just assumed that the eldest is naturally the smartest, most handsome/beautiful, most talented, and most most entitled to the respect of the rest of the siblings. I have noted that there is soe disagreement amongst the unenlightened younger siblings, but that is to be expected because they are not, well, you know, the eldest. (Tongue firmly in cheek)