Author Topic: Does Your Parenting Differ Depending on Birth Order of Your Children?  (Read 723 times)

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Offline JamesR

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To those of you who are parents, does the way you parent your children differ depending on their birth order? Or do you consider yourself fair and equal to all of them? And if your style does differ, is there a reason for it? What is your justification for parenting them different based on birth order?

As the oldest child myself, I've noticed that many parents--at least my own and those of my other oldest child friends--are much stricter, harder on, and conservative when parenting their oldest, whereas they become looser, more liberal, and more lenient toward their younger born children.

For example, I wasn't allowed total, unfiltered internet access and a smartphone with internet until I was about 15, whereas my brother has had it since he was 10. I had to remember to do all of my assigned chores everyday or there'd be strict punishment, whereas my brother forgets his all the time and hardly even gets a slap on the wrist. I was expected to know how to do certain chores like laundry, mowing a lawn, and a few other things at a young age whereas my brother gets out of doing these jobs on the grounds that he is still "too young."

Many of my friends who are also oldest children have similar stories of birth order discrimination where the younger born siblings are granted unfair leniency, immunity from trouble, and less responsibilities and/or repercussions for screwing up than their oldest brothers or sisters are.

Do you parents do this intentionally? If so, why? Or is it something that happens without your realization? Do you exhaust so much energy over-parenting your oldest child that you tend to burn out when the younger ones come along? Do you begin to start picking-and-choosing your battles and/or loosening your grip since you learned from the mistakes of parenting your oldest?

And as a bonus question, how many of you still practice primogeniture as recompense for all the extra work and responsibility your eldest child had/has to take on?

Offline ZealousZeal

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Re: Does Your Parenting Differ Depending on Birth Order of Your Children?
« Reply #1 on: January 31, 2015, 02:10:12 PM »
Speaking only for myself:

Do you parents do this intentionally? If so, why? Or is it something that happens without your realization? Do you exhaust so much energy over-parenting your oldest child that you tend to burn out when the younger ones come along? Do you begin to start picking-and-choosing your battles and/or loosening your grip since you learned from the mistakes of parenting your oldest?

Well, you definitely learn from your mistakes with anything. I think sometimes you realize that the battles you picked with your older children weren't really that big of a deal after all, and with your second (and beyond no doubt), you're much more familiar with what behaviors to expect at what ages- what is typical, what they grow out of naturally, what needs to be corrected, etc. But on the flip side, there's ways that I'm more strict with my youngest than I was with my oldest, based off of the things I just mentioned (there were battles I didn't pick with him because I didn't think they were a big deal, but I should have, etc.). So, it's a door that swings both ways. And my kids are both still very young, so I still have a lot to experience and figure out.

With all of that said, I think it's important to point out that you can only parent kids the same way to a certain extent because they're not the same people. My son's issues aren't the same as my daughter's issues... they're their own unique, individual personalities. They require different things from me. So while I can enforce some rules evenly across the board (bedtime is at such-and-such a time), that's not the case for everything. And what they need from me constantly changes as they develop and get older. I would only be able to treat them identically if they were robots. :P

Quote
And as a bonus question, how many of you still practice primogeniture as recompense for all the extra work and responsibility your eldest child had/has to take on?

My, we're feeling fancy today.

We do. He's only 5, but we're grooming him to take over the family estate and carry forth our family's name and honor into the next generation. We have already expressed to him, if we are gone before the time comes, what our wishes are in regards to his sister marrying well, and a recommended allowance for her to draw from the estate. Of course, with much inheritance comes much responsibility so we hope we're raising him to be the type of person to take care of all his dependents.

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Offline Xenia

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Re: Does Your Parenting Differ Depending on Birth Order of Your Children?
« Reply #2 on: January 31, 2015, 02:37:50 PM »
We have five children, all grown now.

For the first kid,  I read a lot of idealist child-raising books and I pretty much micro-managed the poor kid's life.   He had a quirky personality and I was always a little disappointed in him because he didn't match up to the perfect babies/ kids in the silly books I was reading.  Poor kid :(  

The 2nd kid was (is) the most physically beautiful girl you'd ever lay eyes on and had a charming personality.  We were entranced with this child and treated her quite differently from her quirky brother.

Number three (a boy) had bright red cork-screw curls and a very affectionate personality.  By then, we thought we were experts and began treating the kids like a herd guided by wise shepherds (LOL)

Number 4 was a cute little girl who cried all the time.  By then, I was no longer under the delusion that anything (non-extreme) I did was going to make one whit of difference so despite the stern advice I read in Calvinist child-rearing books ("They are all depraved from birth! Don't coddle them!")  I decided to smother this miserable little creature with love and affection and "gave in" every time she cried.

Number 5 was such a peaceful little boy that we used to joke that Baby Jesus was like him.   By the time numbers 4 an 5 came along,  we pretty much let the kids do whatever they wanted as long as it didn't kill them.

So from #1 where I micro-managed every move --->  #5 where it was "Hey, has anyone seen Joey recently?"  , yes,  we did treat them quite differently depending on birth order.

They are all now adults and none of it seems to have mattered.  They all became who they were.

As far as primogeniture,  it's not Mr. Quirky who will be in charge of our "estate"  but number 4,  the crybaby,  who turned out to be a very responsible and compassionate adult.
« Last Edit: January 31, 2015, 02:43:31 PM by Xenia »

Offline sakura95

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Re: Does Your Parenting Differ Depending on Birth Order of Your Children?
« Reply #3 on: January 31, 2015, 03:08:51 PM »
I'm the youngest child in my family and my mother's often strict towards me(My father tend to be more equal in treatment). My elder brother got scolded or disciplined way less than me. I think they even let him off the hook for bullying at one point where as I got caned and scolded hardcore by my parents.

To be fair, everybody loves my elder brother more than me. He has a very good rep in school and got some of the highest grades in exams. So on this ground I suppose my parents are way more lenient towards him.

I on the other hand have not so good rep and got not so good grades. This I suppose caused my mother to be more strict towards me. Sometimes she often reminds me of how horrible I had been as a child which is often contrasted to how well behaved my elder brother was.

If I had children I would never ever give them this treatment and I would stray from using the rod.
« Last Edit: January 31, 2015, 03:09:32 PM by sakura95 »
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Offline Arachne

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Re: Does Your Parenting Differ Depending on Birth Order of Your Children?
« Reply #4 on: January 31, 2015, 03:16:10 PM »
I have just the one, a boy who will be 7 this summer, but my husband also has a daughter from his first marriage, who is right now very busy planning out the festivities for her upcoming 21st birthday.

Naturally, they were/are treated very differently. Not only because they are very different personalities, but also because their father was a very different person when each of them came into the world. I'm very happy that he's done this whole parenting thing before and stops me from fussing over the boy too much. That's my mother's job: I'm her only child and he's her only grandchild. He had her in his onesie's decorative pocket the moment she laid eyes on him. :laugh:
'Evil isn't the real threat to the world. Stupid is just as destructive as evil, maybe more so, and it's a hell of a lot more common. What we really need is a crusade against stupid. That might actually make a difference.'~Harry Dresden

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