You know about the birth-order theory, right? The one that claims that there are definable personality traits which correlate to birth order? Some people think it’s nonsense, but I personally think there’s something to it. And I think parenting philosophy plays a big role.
You see, our children arrived in three waves. The oldest in 2001, the middle three in 2007, and our little fella just five weeks ago. Even though our baby has only been around for a short while, I can already tell a big difference in the way he’s being raised as compared to the way the triplets were raised. And don’t even get me started on our first child. Her deal’s in its own galaxy.
To illustrate my point, I’ve listed seven different scenarios in which I compare how our parenting philosophy has evolved from the first child to the middle “child” (the triplets) to the last child.
Scenario 1: Pacifier Policy
First child: Under absolutely no circumstances should a pacifier ever be used. It’s a crutch needed only by parents who aren’t up to snuff.
Middle child: Pacifiers have their place, but will not be used unless a child is flat-out losing his or her marbles.
Last child: Three hours after we arrived home with our baby, he made a little ga-ga-type noise which sounded as if it could, possibly, morph into a cry. Which prompted me to turn to my wife and say “Where are the fucking passies?”
Scenario 2: Grounded Pacifiers
As this scenario implies, we eventually broke down and gave pacifiers to all of our children. Even our oldest. (My, how ideals can quickly crumble in the unforgiving face of reality…) But how to handle the situation when the pacifier falls to the ground?
First child: Contact biohazard unit to decontaminate pacifier, then send it to a CSI lab to make certain it’s DNA / germ free, at which point it’s officially deemed safe to reinsert into child’s mouth.
Middle child: Apply the prudent 10-second rule, then rinse thoroughly in warm water, at which point it’s officially deemed safe to reinsert into child’s mouth.
Last child: Apply the realistic 10-minute rule (perhaps longer if circumstances warrant), then wipe clean with shirt tail, at which point it’s officially deemed safe to reinsert into child’s mouth (assuming it didn’t land directly in fecal matter).
Scenario 3: Fussy Baby
First child: Hold and or rock the child until the episode has passed, regardless of how long it may last.
Middle child: Assuming you’re certain there is nothing medically wrong with your child, and although it may break your heart, there’s nothing wrong with letting your baby cry it out as long as your child is resting in a safe and comfortable position and you’re able to monitor the situation closely.
Last child: Assuming that there is nothing medically wrong with your child — two words — ear plugs. Wait. I think that’s one word. Regardless, time to buy a pair. Maybe two. And not the cheap kind, either. This kid’s a screamer.
Scenario 4: Attire
First child: To be dressed immaculately at all times. Girls sport tasteful dresses with complimentary bows. Boys dress like Little Lord Fauntleroy, complete with emasculating smocking and those bad little saddle oxfords.
Middle child: Presentable attire preferred with a premium placed on comfort, not formality.
Last child: Whatever’s clean. (Or not super-dirty. Unless it’s that NASCAR shirt. Because that thing’s totally kick-ass, even with melted chocolate on it.)
Scenario 5: Boo-boos
First child: Dial 911 as you scoop your child off the ground and take his pulse while your spouse digs through the junk drawer for the CPR pamphlet.
Middle child: Thoroughly examine any and all wounds to make certain they don’t need the medical attention of a professional before properly cleaning and dressing them.
Last child: Help your child up, dust him off, then send him along his merry way as you encourage him to stop crying by delivering six heartfelt words of wisdom — “No one likes a pussy, son.”
Scenario 6: Babysitter Policy
First child: You can and should take your child virtually every place you go. But if you happen to find yourself in a situation which calls for a babysitter, make certain you conduct a thorough search, one complete with background checks. Two-week surveillance operations executed by a top-shelf private investigators never hurt, either.
Middle child: What about the Wilsons’ 15-year-old daughter? Didn’t she take that Red Cross babysitting class deal?
Last child: Never underestimate the power of a kick-ass baby monitor. Grab you six or seven and run relay with those bad boys and you should be all set for a coupla miles. Maybe even three.
Scenario 7: Baby Book
First child: Baby books should be neatly written synopses of every single thing your baby ever did, along with countless pictures which further tells your child’s remarkable story.
Middle child: Descriptions of and photos taken on red-letter days should be more than enough to capture the essence of your baby’s first year.
Last child: Cut and paste links to some of your sappier blog posts into a word doc and get on with it.
See the progression there? Now, before you rush down to the comment section and rip me a new one, please know that this post was written with tongue firmly planted firmly in cheek. But I do think there’s a shred of truth as it pertains not just to our parenting philosophy, but to many parents’ parenting philosophies as more and more kids are added to the mix. And surely such a progression, if in fact somewhat universal, could help create these birth-order traits.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure that the actual order of birth as it relates to sibling interaction has something to do with birth order traits, but I would argue that parenting style also plays a role.
So anyway, fellow parents — what say you? Is the birth-order thing fact or fiction? If fact, do parents help create it? And could you relate to any of the (sensationalized) scenarios above?