Many years ago I read a survey in The Sunday Times.
They studied thousands of different families, to see how the sibling dynamics affected children’s personalities.
They looked at dozens of different combinations.
All sons, or all daughters.
But two particular sibling combinations stuck in my mind.
Elder daughter, younger son.
Elder son, younger daughter.
Apparently, these encapsulate two main parental factors.
First: whether anyone admits it or not, there does tend to be a desire for a son.
Second: whether anyone admits or not, parents tend to love the eldest child slightly more.
So these two factors act as follows.
If the eldest child is a boy, he’s especially loved because he’s the eldest.
And he’s also especially loved because he’s the boy.
That’s not to say the younger daughter isn’t loved.
Of course she is.
Just that the older son is doubly special.
So there’s a definite ranking in this particular sibling relationship.
If, on the other hand, the daughter is older, it’s a different dynamic.
The daughter is special because she’s the oldest.
But the son is special because he’s the son.
So the ranking is cancelled out, and both are more equal.
The article also said an elder daughter was more likely to be more independent.
And so live in a separate town, if not a separate country to her parents.
Whereas a younger daughter was more likely to live near them.
Well let’s see.
My older sister lives in New York.
My wife is an older sister, and she’s from Singapore.
Paul Arden’s wife, Toni, is an older sister and she’s from Denmark.
Mike Greenlees wife, Randi, is an older sister and she’s Norwegian.
John Hegarty’s ex-wife, Carrie, is an older sister and she’s from Finland.
Barney Edwards wife, Ruby, is an older sister and she’s from South Africa.
Peter Cook’s wife, Lin, is an older sister and she’s from Malaysia.
Amanda Walsh is a younger sister, and she has a house near her parents.
Paul Arden’s younger sister lived near her parents.
My dad’s younger sister lived with her parents.
Now I’m sure it’s not 100% accurate.
But it seems to me a definite trend, just on the people I know.
So it’s certainly worth investigation and debate.
And since I read that article I’ve noticed something else.
Totally unscientific, and just based on my own observations.
Women who grew up with younger brothers tend to understand men better.
I think women who grew up with older brothers treat men too seriously.
They grew up used to boys being treated as special.
And, although the girls were loved, there’s often a chip on their shoulder about it.
Older daughters don’t have this problem.
They grew up with little brothers.
They get an almost maternal attitude to them.
They are more tolerant.
They find the boys amusing and enjoyable, and not to be taken too seriously.
I heard my daughter saying to her friend, “Boys are lots of fun, they’re just like pets.”
She grew up with a little brother.
My Chinese mother-in-law often said, “I like boys, but they are too playful, girls are much more helpful.”
She also grew up with little brothers.
And both of them like to laugh a lot when they’re around men or boys.
And neither of them take men or boys too seriously.
Which works well for me.
I don’t expect or want to be taken too seriously.
But then I’m a younger brother with a big sister.
(I’m on holiday for the next two weeks, so no new posts. But I’ll keep checking in to see if there any comments.)