01 April 2008

Mom and Dad Like You Best

Are you not the firstborn child in your family? Did you always have a sneaking suspicion that the eldest child received more attention and privilege than you? You may very well have been right.

A new study by Joseph Price of BYU has concluded that on average, firstborn children between the ages of 4 and 13 get more than 3000 "quality" hours of time with their parents than do their siblings. Quality time with parents includes minutes spent together on such activities as homework, meals, reading, playtime, sports, teaching, arts, religion and conversation.

Why parents spend less time with children as a family ages was not studied, but Price offered some reasons, including fatigue, age and a waning novelty. Another factor is that as the firstborn ages and has more "appointments" (school, soccer, playdates...), that tends to drive the family schedule.

As a classroom teacher, it is often obvious where kids fall in the birth order, especially the youngest. More than once, I've watched my attention-seekers and said, "I'll bet you're the baby of the family, aren't you?" Kids are always surprised. "How could you tell?" I suppose now I could use the graphic on the right to point out the number of minutes a day they've lost out on...and how they're trying to make up for it in my classroom.
There's much more to read and ponder in the article in the Washington Post on how Quality Time Seems Stacked in Favor of Firstborns.

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