Why are children in the same family so different from one another? 

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One of the questions which keeps coming back in my mind is how can two/three/four children having the same parents have very different personalities and interests? My siblings are completely different than I am.  I suppose in families where there are more than two kids, they compete with each other to surpass the standard; it is like in vineyards the vines are planted just close to each other and together they are forced to compete for nutrients in the soil and sunlight. Stress causes the plants to put more energy into their reproductive processes, increasing the quantity and quality of the grapes.

Siblings try to be different from one another, and seek to establish a unique identity and position of their own in their family. From a child’s perspective, if an older brother/sister excels at school, it may be easier for that sibling to attract her parent’s attention and admiration. The other one tries to become a star athlete to compete with the sibling who gets best grades. In this way, even small differences between siblings can become substantial differences over time. Parents play a big role in differentiating their children: for instance, when parents notice differences between their children, children may pick up on parents’ perceptions and beliefs about those differences.

The socialization theories assume that the environment of the family unit influences psychological development, while the result of shared experiences lead to similarities among siblings, behavioural-genetics research indicates that children growing up in the same family do not share effective environmental influences. It is not shared experiences, but shared genetics that make siblings resemble one another. Research has also shown that the unique aspects of each child’s experience while growing up seems to be more powerful in shaping personality than what the siblings experience in common. The finding has also stimulated new, intensive research to pinpoint the subtle disparities in how children are treated within a family. The disparities make a big difference later, larger than ever. Birth order also plays a role, tough a minimal role. Instead, factors ranging from a child’s perceptions about parental affection, discipline and the friends a child chooses are coming to the front from a range of studies.

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Siblings keep comparing themselves to one another on factors such as parental love, control, attention and favoritism. These are some elements to increase sibling rivalry. We recognize the importance that basic intelligence plays in the ease with which a child learns. One child may be particularly bright and enjoy school, while his/her sibling might be a slow learner, although that child may star in another way. Nevertheless, although siblings may be the same sex, equally intelligent and equally capable physically, their parents may play parenting games for several reasons. This can be a cause why each child looks, sounds, and acts differently.

We all come of out from a lineage: our inborn characteristics such as shyness, moodiness, concentration, extroversion, introversion, assertiveness, aggression shape the way we approach different experiences in life right from childhood. In turn, it shapes us to who we become. The manner in which each child enters into potential experiences cannot be the same though they belong to one family and same parents. Each one experiences life differently.

Some famous Hollywood and Bollywood movies such as Ganga-Jamuna, Ram aur Shyam, Deewar, Sita aur Geeta from Bollywood and Stuck on you, In her shoes, The Godfather series from Hollywood dealt with issues of sibling upbringing, circumstantial differences and the rivalry among them. There are so many reasons for experience one sibling has than the experience the other sibling doesn’t get. Before September 11, 2001, many parents trained their children that the United States was a secure country. After the fateful day of 9/11, their sense of strength was shattered and they weren’t sure what to tell their children. Therefore, for many people this event changed the way they parented; perhaps the new reality caused them to create more anxious children than would be true for siblings who had come into the family in less frightening times.

When a child is born, along with it two parents are born. Parents grow with their kids and learn parenting tricks. It is said that children are like pancakes; till we get the right shape and consistency, we throw away the first one or two. While this cannot be the case with our kids. But, there is a ring of truth to the idea that we make a lot of parenting mistakes with the first child. Unfortunately, they suffer because of our inexperience until we’re able to manage to gain better parenting skills.

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Our personalities are shaped out of our circumstantial experiences. When the first child is born, the temperament of that child determines the personalities of its younger siblings. For example, if the first child is naturally easy-going and happier the effect on the younger children is positive. One big fact about parenting is: one should enjoy the parenting, it must give lots of joy and fun while bringing up kids. Parenting isn’t practice, it’s a daily experience.

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