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Tuesday, June 26, 2007
Older *and* Wiser...., it's not my birthday (yet, give me another week). I found out late last week that something my husband has always believed to be true might actually be true. But not in the way he thinks.

I think I may have mentioned it before (but I'm not sure) - DH has a theory. There is only so much intelligence that a parent can pass on to a child, and the more children that you have the less intelligence that they get. Therefore, the oldest child is the smartest one and the rest are, well, not as smart.

Considering my husband is the oldest of 7, and I have been exposed to all the other 6 (and lived with the youngest for two years) I'd say he might have something there, although the 2nd child is somewhat of an anomaly - I don't consider her to be that bright. But I digress...

A study in Norway has proven that the oldest child in a family is usually the smartest child. It's not the result of genetics, but the result of the time that a parent spends with a first child. Admit it, you parents of multiple children - you treat your first born a bit differently than a second. The first born gets the nice pictures, the new clothes, you're scared to death and constantly doing research to make sure every little cough or sniffle isn't something fatal. You're a lot less diligent with a second and they get hand me downs (unless the age spread between them is massive and you've thrown everything out).

Firstborn children are considered leaders in their families and are given much more responsibility to act as an example. Parents also spend more time with them trying to teach them. They're showered with attention.

Apparently this translates into a few extra IQ points. Now, before anyone says that IQ isn't a direct indication of how truly intelligent someone is, I'll agree with you there. I've known some *very* high IQ individuals who couldn't reason their way out of a paper bag because they had no common sense. But that's not what's happening here. Older children are driven to succeed more, they apparently get more opportunities and strive harder - because more is expected from them.

So it's basically true. Older children are smarter. I made the mistake of mentioning this at the dinner table with my children present and that started the older child taunting the younger one (who already has issues thinking that she's dumb when she's clearly *not*) and we had to break that up with what strengths each of them has. That quelled the argument especially when DH said that there were two of them and two of us and we *both* have spent time teaching them together. They're on fairly even footing.

But that's not the case with the 7 kids in DH's family. When most of them are spaced less than 2 years apart, according to this study, those poor 5th and 6th children are in sad, sad shape. And the 7th? May the gods help her...

...even though she'd argue to the end that she's smarter than them all.