Thursday, November 7, 2013

brain order

I read about a study done in 2007 that found oldest siblings have higher IQs.  There's a lot of interesting points in the article, and as the wife of the smartest person I know (who also happens to be an eldest) I don't discount it.  There were lots of interesting things mentioned, such as:

One possibility, proposed by the psychologist Robert Zajonc, is that older siblings consolidate and organize their knowledge in their natural roles as tutors to junior. These lessons, in short, benefit the teacher more than the student.
Another potential explanation concerns how siblings find a niche in the family. Some studies find that both the older and younger siblings tend to describe the firstborn as more disciplined, responsible, high-achieving. Studies suggest — and parents know from experience — that to distinguish themselves, younger siblings often develop other skills, like social charm, a good curveball, mastery of the electric bass, acting skills.
....Firstborns have won more Nobel Prizes in science than younger siblings, but often by advancing current understanding, rather than overturning it.

All good stuff.  But this has been irking me and bugging my brain lately.  And it's not because I'm a 3rd child and feeling defensive about my own traits - because I freely acknowledge I am not the sharpest crayon in my family, and the data makes a lot of good points.

I'm irked as a mother... like, if my other children are going to have lower IQs, why try?  I'm destined to fail?  It doesn't help that my eldest is far smarter than I am.  They put her a grade ahead, and I have always been trailing the pack.  But what gets me is this:

The Dude had a speech delay, and has proven to be an incredibly unique human from the get-go.  When we were finding out all the things that made him tick through therapy and prayer*, I was told by more than one friend (read:non-professional) source that he wasn't talking as young as WonderGirl had because I'd simply spent more time and energy with her.  And that hurt - it still hurts, and is just untrue.  WG is brilliant, but because of who she is, not anything I did.  I spent the majority of the first 2 years of her life sobbing on the couch while she watched hours of PBS kids.  A few times sobbing on the kitchen floor.  You get the point.  The fact she is as bright as she is is a miracle of biology, not environment.

So she's a freakin' genius, but I really hate it when people assume it's because she was given more than her siblings.  I was doing some looking back on things, and found the Dude was reading a year before she was, and even sooner on the violin and piano.  And you guys, he is a really, really good little pianist.  It's freaking me out a little bit.  The truth is, the Dude simply got a better mother early on the WG did.  And I watch Thing 3 watching the Dude's piano and violin lessons with this laser beam of attention.  He's a Suzuki sibling dream!

Not that this was much of a rant, but /rant.

* by the way, the Dude has caught up verbally. And WON'T. STOP.


Cathie said...

My older sister freely admits to not being the smartest kid in my family.

Anonymous said...

High IQ does not equal better (even if some segments of our world think it does). So that's great that your eldest (and other eldest-s have higher IQs). It doesn't mean you're a better or worse parent because of it.

So much more important is to do what you and your husband are doing--work in partnership with God to help your children develop their spiritual gifts. Spiritual gifts may include some smarts, they'll also include the music, and compassion, and discernment, and faith, and physical ability, and--well, you know. I firmly believe God sends his children in a designed order within families that will help us best develop our gifts and fulfill our missions. However that might happen through sibling interaction, our parents' knowledge, etc. For some, our moms spending our first two years on the couch crying might be part of what some of us need to develop our gifts. For others, having a temperamental sibling beside us might do it. And so on and so forth.

I think more than worrying about IQ and how we're affecting it, we should help those spiritual gifts develop. And I love "watching" (just through blog stalking) how you do that with your little ones. :)

Master P said...

Oh man, I needed that perspective. I'm feeling slightly less punchy now, thank you :)

Padme said...

This should make you feel better. Yesterday we had a demonstration from the University co-founder of the string academy (works w/ Mimi Zweig) in a class on teaching methods on private lessons. She had a family come in who has 5 kids. 2 of the kids did a mini performance/lesson for us. The oldest - 16 (who the prof has worked w/ since she was 3) and the 4th kid - 4. Not that the 16 year-old wasn't awesome, but the 4-year-old fascinated everyone. Her mother is a violin instructor and all of her older kids play violin or cello, so she has grown up in a very Suzuki environment. And she picks things up like they're nothing - and she has no fear about. She's currently in book 1B but apparently she came to a lesson earlier this week and announced she had a song to play. Then she played something from book 6 (the prof knew her older brother was working on that exact song). And she did it well, playing notes she's never learned, just because it's such a part of her environment. So, there are advantages to being younger siblings. Natti was the most musical of the three of us too. And the smartest, so I don't necessarily buy the oldest-are-smartest crap. Also, youngest siblings often have unique survival skills. Just sayin'.

Jane said...

I don't know about the oldest I am certainly the bossiest! (My 4th sister is probably the smartest.)
But there are different kinds of smart; street, book, behavioral, social. My siblings turn to me to solve/handle situations, but we utilize each other for their individual strengths.
As far as the study goes, there is a much greater number of first born than, oh, sixth born say, so it stands to reason they would do more, statistically.

HEAR YE. I need to document the fact that I ran 3 miles and didn't feel like death.  So just to make sure it wasn't a fluke, I did...