Although I write primarily here about books, I also do read some celebrity magazines.
While most of my reading happens in line at the grocery store, I will cop to having been a People magazine subscriber somewhere in the mid- to late-90s (It did get a bit much when I started quoting People’s book reviews to other people, and habits are powerful things.).
I will do some online celebrity gazing online, putting in more time than is necessary to stay current with what Aidan’s generation is paying attention to these days (This isn’t a particularly convincing reason to begin with, I know.).
During one of these sessions this week, I came across an article that said Rebecca Romijn and Jerry O’Connell-I still can’t believe that he was Vern the fat kid in the 1986 flick, Stand By Me, by the way-have decided not to tell their twins their birth order and instead to see whether their personalities will simply assert themselves naturally.
It’s an intriguing choice.
Birth order, along with gender, historical moment, family experience and social class, has gained more currency over time as a partially explanatory factor for people’s personalities and temperaments.
The Wall Street Journal wrote not so long ago about the impact of birth order on one’s marriage, even going so far as to identify which types of matches tend to the best. I’ll give you a hint; it’s not last-born and last born.
Leman describes the type of personalities that often congregate around first, middle and last born children, and, to some degree, they seem to be borne out in our family. I do tend to have pretty strong opinions about how things should, Mike at times does appear concerned about equity issues, and Jon, the youngest, does generally seem to be pretty loosey-goosey about things.
The book also talks about the gap between siblings, with the result being that people who are born many years after their siblings exhibit more only child personality traits, even as they technically do have siblings.
Like many parlor games, or horoscopes for that matter, birth order tends to work better in reverse at explaining people’s behavior than in predicting how people will act or in experts being able to accurately discern where someone is in the birth order after meeting them.
This blog post during the 2008 presidential campaign is an example of this. While it is an interesting analysis of Obama and McCain’s personality traits, as you can see, McCain’s aberrant behavior is explained as a minor exception to the rule, rather than cause to question the rule itself.
What do you think? What role does birth order play in your life? Is Leman onto something?
I look forward to reading your answers. In the meantime, though, I’ve got to get a couple of items for Mom at CVS. They’ve got a pretty healthy collection of popular culture magazines, too.