Only Child

Topics: Family, Birth order, Personality psychology Pages: 5 (2036 words) Published: October 16, 2005
Is there a perfect family size? Prevailing wisdom would probably indicate at least four: a mother, father and two children -- a boy and a girl. But for many, the family is smaller. Our society's tendency is to make assumptions about an individual's personality based on his or her birth order. Throughout the ages, birth order has been implicated as a significant factor in people's personality development. This "birth-order myth" is manifested in such statements as "He's an over-achiever because he's a firstborn," and "Youngest children are spoiled brats." It's difficult not to attribute personality traits to birth order. Birth order is an observable characteristic that all human beings possess and are capable of discussing. Frequently there does appear to be marked differences in individuals of different birth orders. Alfred Adler, a Viennese psychologist who lived from 1870-1937, established one of the first theories of birth order. His theory focused on the idea of "dethronement." According to Adler a couple's first child is like a little prince or princess; subsequent children "dethrone" this child by taking away parental attention and affection XXXX. The effects of "dethronement", or lack thereof in the case of only children, determine such personality traits as responsibility, attitudes toward authority, self-esteem, and achievement motivation. According to this theory, oldest children are significantly different from youngest children because the first-borns suffer the effects of dethronement while the youngest children do not. Only children possess the characteristics held by first-borns before their "dethronement" occurred, and middle children hold completely different characteristics because they never had the experience of full parental attention before "dethronement" XXXXX It is all together appropriate that I should began the account of my life with the name Alfred Adler. I'm an only child. Alfred Adler as well as other great theorist has done great amount of research on the effects of being an only child versus being a child with siblings. In our society, being an only child has received negative reviews and many consider these children to be at a disadvantage. Negative qualities such as self-centeredness and excessive pressure have been thought to surround these children. Research, however, has given mixed reviews of this type of family situation and I feel there is still a great deal of ambiguity in this field. Adler was best known for his theories regarding striving for superiority, was also concerned with the effects of birth order on personality. Adler's theory stressed the social aspect of personality development and therefore proposed the possibility of birth order and its significance in the interpersonal relationships of family life. He felt that each position in the order, whether first or last, had distinct characteristics. For example, he hypothesized that firstborns are problem children and that only children are likely to be spoiled due to parental overindulgence XXXXX. As Adler points out, the only child is a unique breed. Acting as the first- and last-born in a family, the only child takes on a multitude of roles and responsibilities unlike those of any other sibling. The only child breaks down the positions in birth order. I will begin my story around the year 1973. I was twelve years old and living with my mother in a small two bedroom apartment in Rochester, New Hampshire. My parents had divorced ten years prior and I had never been formally introduced to my "biological donor", nor did I care to be now. All I knew of that person was he had been remarried after the divorce and I had a half sibling. My mother's father had passed away when she was 15 years old and her mother had passed away in 1971. My mother was alone with a child to raise. My mother was an alcoholic, although she has never admitted it. My mother was a "weekend" alcoholic she worked extremely hard during...
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