A recent study found that the eldest children in families develop a
higher IQ than their siblings. Since I'm 10 years older than my only
sibling, I gobbled up the research with crow-footed glee. But one thing bugged me:
The study also said younger sibs tended to be more “groundbreaking” and
creative than their older counterparts.
“That hardly seems fair,” I thought to myself. “Why can't I be smarter and more innovative?”
I IM'd Sis for some answers.
Me: So there have been a number of stories in the papers lately about studies linking birth order to IQ and success in life.
Sis: Yes. I heard about it on “The View.”
OK. So you know that they say that firstborns have a better chance at
having a higher IQ, but that younger children are more likely to be
Yeah, yeah. I think probably in most families that is very true, but
sometimes when the older sibling is really smart and excels at
everything the younger sibling tries to immulate that.
Me: Or, in our case, maybe immolate.
Sis: See! Why is it that you know such good English and you had the same parents as I did?
Me: I read books. What did you think about this whole aspect of the study showing that younger siblings are revolutionaries?
Sis: Well, I think you had more of a bond with our parents than I did so you were perfect and did what they wanted.
Me: Uh-huh. I'm not sensing any resentment or anything.
Sis: I think that's true.
Me: What's true?
That I changed the way things were in the house. Just because you were
first, and had things a certain way didn't mean I was gonna do that
too. And I didn't.
I guess that's a form of revolution. What about in terms of your
approach to life? You did go into journalism after all – apparently to
Hahahaha. Well I'm both! I tried as hard as I could to be like you the
best I could, but no more than that. No overachieving. Just achieving.
I agreed with the study, but I'm saying that the opposite is true also.
Me: What about the study did you agree with?
Sis: Hold on let me find it somewhere. Send me a link to the study.
Me: [I send a link.] I'd like to point out that you said you were going to find the study and then asked me to send you a link.
Sis: LOL. See!
Me: More telling is that I did it.
reading it.] OK. So … I would say that the study shows older siblings
have a higher IQ than their younger siblings because of the family
dynamics. And in our case that was definitely true. You were quiet and
dutiful because it was easier for you to be. Being a little kid with a
bunch of older people was harder, and I tried to get attention by doing
not so smart things while you got attention for doing great things and
just being yourself.
Me: Well that's a giant oversimplification of my childhood, but OK. Also "not so smart things" isn't what you did to get attention.
Yes it is. Screaming and acting up, and running around, while you were
quiet and studied. If I had your life, I would be different.
Me: You'd be you, but with a younger sister. We were both essentially only children.
had a much tougher family dynamic than I did. [Our father died when Sis
was 12, after a long battle with cancer.] But that had more to do with
Dad's illness, in my opinion, than birth order.
I think it's birth order. Birth order determined how we got to live. If
I came first I would have had your life. You would have had to have
Me: Wow. Look at the wording of that ... do we need family counseling?
Sis: Well, it's true. You had delicious hot meals every night [Dad cooked], while I ate Hot Pockets [Mom did not].
Sis: What? It's so true.
Me: I know ... it's just ... wow.
It would have been a calmer environment. When I went off to college, I
got straight A's because I could study and do what I want.
Me: You got what?
Sis: I did too. Wanna see my first year report card? All A's.
Me: Are you sure you want to go on record saying you got straight A's through college?
Sis: I got straight A's my first year because …
Me: Because you took that high school-level math class that you'd already taken four times before?
Sis: LOL. Noooo!
Four. But that's beside the point. Mom's kookiness and everyone else
wasn't there to make me crazy. There was already a method to how the
family was running that YOU helped create ... not me. And it didn't go
well with my personality so I spent more time arguing than studying.
Me: OK. So since leaving the house, do you find yourself more motivated and intellectually curious?
Me: So I can expect great revolutionary things from you?