A new study published in the journal Social Development suggests something many people with siblings suspected all along: moms really do parent their firstborn and secondborn differently.
In the study, researchers visited 55 homes to observe moms’ interactions with their firstborn when the child was 20-months-old—and then with their secondborn when he or she reached the same age, Newsweek reports. During the visits, the child had to play alone for 10 minutes, and then play with his or her mom. Researchers also gathered data on moms’ verbal intelligence and sociodemographics, and moms’ responses to a questionnaire on their parenting.
The study found that moms prioritize playing a lot with their firstborn, but make the activity of less importance with their secondborn, according to Newsweek.
What’s more, firstborn children are more sociable and emotionally available to their moms than secondborn children are. As the Daily Mail reports, in the study, firstborns were more willing to respond to their moms’ suggestions and had more fun playing with them. According to Diane Putnick, Ph.D., of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, who led the study, this may be because firstborns have the advantage of more total time spent with mom, simply because they’re older. “Firstborn children may be more sociable and emotionally available to their mothers because they have the benefit of years of their parents’ undivided attention. Perhaps this concentrated time with mothers early on leads firstborn children to develop better social skills in relationships with adults,” she said.
Interestingly, the study also revealed that moms’ views and attitudes toward parenting their firstborn were pretty similar to the ones they had toward parenting their secondborn. As researchers speculate, this might mean moms are choosing different ways of applying their parenting approaches depending on the kid, according to Newsweek.