Dear Grandparenting: What could be better than too much of a good thing? Each of my four children has produced grandchildren. Every year I make it a point to spend at least one long weekend with each family, and I very seldom pass up a chance to take care of my grandkids if their parents can’t for some reason.
Both of my sons have three children. My daughter Cindy has two, and daughter Monica has one girl named Sugar. I am a grandmother who enjoys comparing and contrasting similarities and differences among my grandchildren and wondering how they’ll turn out.
I’d bet my bottom dollar that Sugar is going to a star. It’s strange, because I always heard that an only child was spoiled and lonely. But Sugar is really something special. She’s smart as a whip but not a show-off, and her parents hardly ever need to correct her. Not bad for age 7! Don’t get me wrong. I love every grandchild equally. I’m just wondering what did I right with my daughter Monica for her to produce a surprise like Sugar? Ellen Wassmer, Riverside, California
Dear Ellen: It is human nature to make all kind of pronouncements about the impact of family size and one’s birth order on childhood development. But a batch of relatively recent research punched holes in some old stereotypes, and even took it a step further into a grandchild’s choice of their life partner.
Family size and birth order is not one’s destiny. Every family is different, with variable resources and abilities. A grandchild’s gender and temperament certainly factor in, as does the age gap between siblings.
But patterns do emerge, and we’d wager that your granddaughter’s precocious behavior has more to with her being an only child than how you raised her mother. Contrary to what many believe, “onlies” like Sugar, surrounded by adults, tend to be mature for their age. And smarter too, since the parents don’t have to divide their time and energy among other siblings. A Norwegian study found that the more siblings one has, the lower one’s IQ.
Pecking order seems to matter. Middle children are often people-pleasing peacemakers with strong social skills learned through negotiations with older and younger siblings and their friends. The youngest are inclined to be outgoing, pampered and somewhat self-centered. Again, it’s all relative.
It’s often claimed that opposites attract and complement one another in matters of love and romance. But according to a 2009 study, first-borns are more likely to associate with and be attracted to other first-borns, middle children with other middle children, and so on.
GRAND REMARK OF THE WEEK
Val Johnson from Beacon, New York, was “tickled” by grandson Buddy’s description of the climate situation in India after his latest geography lesson:
“I hear it’s so hot in places that people there have to live in other places.”
Dee and Tom, married more than 50 years, have eight grandchildren. Together with Key, they welcome questions, suggestions and Grand Remarks of the Week. Send to P.O. Box 27454, Towson, MD, 21285. Call 410-963-4426.
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