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Sibling Rivalry

Is it best to be the first born or an only child? How does your position in the family afect your character? Which one is a verb anyway? ( Affect or effect )

Reading

1 Discuss the questions below with other students.
  1. How much difference does having one, two, three or more children in a family make to the children?
  2. Do you think there is an 'ideal' number of children in a family?
  3. Do you think the position (i.e. oldest/youngest) can affect the personality of a child? If so, how?
2 Read the article below. Does the article suggest that there is an ideal number of children in a family or not? (Ignore the gaps and the underlined words for now.)

How the family pecking order affects you

family
Are you the eldest in your family? Do you strive for perfection but ________ are never quite satisfied with what you do? Perhaps you are the middle child and feel a compulsion towards attention-seeking behaviour, or the youngest ________ who needs other people to sort out your problems. Countless academic studies say your place in the family is such a strong factor in developing your personality that it can have a major influence on the rest of your life. Joy Berthoud, ________ author of a new book, Pecking Order, has been convinced by research confirming this. But she is quick to point out that there are many variables, dictated most notably by age gap and the gender of the children. 'A girl with a sister two years her senior will be closer to the model of the second child than a girl with a brother 10 years older, who might well display more of the characteristics of a first or only child.'

As a first child, according to Berthoud, you will probably adopt some of your parents' behaviour and generally be quite 'grown-up'. You receive all their attention, but all their expectations are also heaped on you. 'When child number two arrives,' she explains, 'there will be fear of the withdrawal of your parents' love and, more than likely, a noticeable reduction in the amount of attention they give you. This is when you will start to try to please adults, to become even more like them -conservative and responsible - in an effort to win back what you've lost. As you grow up, this can lead to feelings of never being good enough, but with or without this insecurity, you'll probably be a high achiever because you're trying so hard.'

'I have one clear memory of my sister Jane arriving on the scene,' says Julie, 31, a civil servant. 'I was two and a half, and I climbed into her carry-cot when she wasn't in it and lay down. I think I must have wanted to be a baby again, and get all the attention she was getting. I was quite like my mum and dad - they're both teachers with a strong art bias, and I became quite arty, too,' says Julie. 'I went on to study graphic design. But Jane was into numbers and computers. She was also far more outgoing than me, with an active social life.
I was less confident and much more level-headed and sensible.'

The second child is most commonly identified as so taking the opposite line to their older sibling. Feelings of inferiority can inspire the second to outdo the first in academic areas, but they will usually find something else to be good at. This position in the pecking order will also give you less respect for the established order, unlike the older sibling trying to be like the adults. There will be nothing to be gained from it. The behaviour of these children will, in short, generally lean towards that which attracts attention, and they will more than likely have a more relaxed attitude to life. Sibling rivalry is also common.

Karen Gunn, 29, a writer and assistant on a magazine, has a brother, Douglas, seven years her junior. She also has a sister, Fiona, who is 31. Middle children are often left feeling like the odd one out, not having the attachment to their parents that their older sibling has but also not being the baby of the family, with the consequent attention heaped on it. This often provokes attention-seeking behaviour.

Karen admits she has always striven to be noticed. 'I was always the crash-bang wallop one of the family. Fiona was much more reserved and thoughtful when we visited relatives. I'd always be saying, "Look at me, I can do a hand stand. "' The youngest child doesn't have to worry about dethronement and can consequently focus on the road ahead with no distractions. But equally, being pampered might undermine his or her ambition. Only children are similar in many ways to first children, but their behaviour is not modified by dethronement. Constant interaction with adults gives them social maturity but emotional immaturity. The strong parental relationship can be supportive and encourage self-confidence, but it can also be claustrophobic. Only children may well leave home early.
3 Read the article again and answer questions (1-6) below. G Give only one answer to each question.
  1. Joy Berthoud feels that academic research regarding position in the family
    1. should be treated with scepticism.
    2. is still in its early stages.
    3. needs to take complicating factors into account.
    4. has made good progress in recent years.

  2. Joy Berthoud believes that the effect of the arrival of the second child on the first is
    1. largely negative.
    2. largely positive.
    3. equally positive and negative.
    4. never the same.
  3. Julie's comments about her sister
    1. contradict Berthoud's theory.
    2. only partially support Berthoud's theory.
    3. support Berthoud's theory to a large extent.
    4. raise issues not referred to by Berthoud.

  4. Berthoud believes the second child's attitude to the first child will
    1. lack respect.
    2. be competitive.
    3. be quite relaxed.
    4. be resentful.

  5. Middle children
    1. are quite reserved.
    2. get the most attention.
    3. are often rather clumsy.
    4. can feel disregarded.

  6. Only children
    1. have the same personality characteristics as first children.
    2. may feel a strong need to break away from their parents.
    3. will only benefit from the amount of contact with adults.
    4. can experience a sense of general insecurity.
4 Discuss with other students. To what extent do the points in the article reflect your experience?

Grammar plus: substitution/ellipsis

5 Look at the first three paragraphs of the text

  1. There are three places marked with a ________ In each of these places a different word is understood by the reader but left out of the text by the writer. Can you identify what word is missed out in each case?

    Are you the eldest in your family? Do you strive for perfection but ________ are never quite satisfied with what you do?

    Perhaps you are the middle child and feel a compulsion towards attention-seeking behaviour, or the youngest ________ who needs other people to sort out your problems.

    Joy Berthoud, ________ author of a new book, Pecking Order, has been convinced by research confirming this.
  2. There are are four words/phrases underlined. In each case, can you identify what the underlined word refers back to?

    1. Countless academic studies say your place in the family is such a strong factor in developing your personality that it can have a major influence on the rest of your life.

    2. Joy Berthoud, ________ author of a new book, Pecking Order, has been convinced by research confirming this.

    3. 'When child number two arrives,' she explains, 'there will be fear of the withdrawal of your parents' love and, more than likely, a noticeable reduction in the amount of attention they give you. This is when you will start to try to please adults, to become even more like them -conservative and responsible - in an effort to win back what you've lost.

    4. As you grow up, this can lead to feelings of never being good enough, but with or without this insecurity, you'll probably be a high achiever because you're trying so hard.'

Vocabulary: word + prepositions (I)

6
The following sentences come from the text. Without referring back, can you complete them with the missing preposition?
  1. Do you strive _________ perfection?
  2. _________ but are never quite satisfied
    _________ what you do.
  3. _________ it can have a major influence
    _________ the rest of your life.
  4. Joy Berthoud has been convinced
    _________ research _________
  5. ___ there are many variables, dictated _________________ age gap and gender ...
  6. As a first child, according _____________________ Berthoud, you will ____
  7. ___ there will be fear of the withdrawal ______________________ your parents' love ____
  8. ___ a noticeable reduction __________________ the amount of attention they give you ____
  9. ____ this can lead ______________________ feelings of never being good enough.
  10. This position will also give you less respect ____________________ the established order ___ (m)




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