A longitudinal study has recently shown
First-born children’s thinking skills outperform their siblings because they receive more mental stimulation from their parents in their early years, research suggests.
The important thing to understand here is that the issue is not being born first, but getting individual attention on learning tasks. The crucial element is the individual attention. This has repercussions later in life, as first-borns tend to also do better educationally and economically. Children who are born later get less all the way around. The first child is given lavish attention and care, while subsequent children are approached with increasing lack of effort and attention, including during pregnancy. Mothers tend to take more risks with later pregnancies, and parents spend less time and effort on later children. This is stunningly unfair. Why should second- and third-borns be expected to make do with so much less?
What I take away from these data is that people need and deserve individual attention. Everyone should have adequate help getting started in life, not the leftovers of older siblings. What should be done about this? For me, this study supports the notion of having small families of one or two children only, so that each child can get the help and attention it deserves and needs to have a fulfilled life. This can be extended on to education as well. Because our educational system has declined so greatly, it needs to be revamped anyway, and one change that would be of great benefit to children is to provide for individual teaching so that each person can develop to their full potential. Classroom teaching for younger children is more distracting than helpful, as children are much more attentive to each other than to a lone adult attempting to teach boring stuff.
Of course, a strictly tutorial system is impracticable with the current population – there are just too many children and too few teachers. This does not change the fact that children still need more individual attention and teaching than they are currently getting. Each life is worth developing and is of value, and it behooves society to make a commensurate investment in each person, otherwise the citizens will not be able to take up their responsibilities in society, and live up to their potential.
It is at this time particularly that we must support women’s education and healthcare. Women with more education have fewer children, and poorer women who do not wish to have more children must have access to birth control.
Children have the right to be wanted and loved, and women have the right to govern their own lives. Many unwanted births have been prevented since modern birth control was introduced; I wonder what our lives would be like now if all those children had been born?
Copyright © 2017 Teresa Chupp. All rights reserved.