Bitch on the Blog

May 23, 2016

Not necessarily

Filed under: Family,Happiness,Observations,Psychology — bitchontheblog @ 15:08
Tags: , ,

On the whole generalizations stink. However, yesterday I made a my earth shattering discovery. Stand by to be astounded: Generalizations  (a bit like cliches) do serve a purpose. Don’t raise an eyebrow. They do they do they do [serve a purpose]. Namely that they simplify things.

Why this hadn’t occurred to me earlier I don’t know. I suppose some of the best is left to last.

Yes, sigh, so there I was watching an astonishing family drama unfolding. On screen. I have always known about family dynamics but this was a bit like rinsing my contact lenses/glasses to see more clearly. I haven’t got the faintest idea what the hell is going on.

There are six characters. A mother and a father, and four siblings – three brothers, one sister. Which, I suppose, is worse (for the boys) than being one brother (like my own) among three sisters. The bit that kept and keeps confusing me is that I continually mistake the second son for the eldest. Why? Because – remember we are talking about generalizing/stereotypes – in this epic the eldest is the bad boy, the black sheep. Whilst number two is the good guy, the responsible one, you get the drift. It’s the wrong way round. Naturally, the youngest is a total emotional pain in the proverbial – but that’s what you expect of the youngest. No surprises there.

So, yes, my world is now slightly topsy turvy, having to pinch myself to remind myself who is who in the sequence of siblings. I don’t know what your assorted experiences are, either within your family of origin or the family you have created yourself. Please do let me know if you can stomach it.

In terms of how far psychology can throw its stone and cast its shadow I am BOTH, hallelujah, an only (because I am quite a bit older than my siblings) AND an eldest (with all that entails – remember, the subject is generalization/stereotypes) so I have, literally, had the best of both worlds. I don’t say this lightly not least because it reflects on me if after my own experience of family and observing those of others there are only two things to be: The one and only, or the eldest. I am so grateful I dare hardly to whisper it.

Slaughter me. Little more damage can be done than the havoc my siblings have (in recent years) created. I am the eldest – my mother’s words to that effect ring in my ear and to this day she expects me to be the peace maker – and, by nature, I am [the peace maker], but you can only make as much peace as the other players allow. My youngest sister, again playing to stereotype, recently confided in me that she always felt she was looked upon as totally incompetent. Really? Well, I never. Can’t believe it. We used to call her the “Professor” when she was barely big enough to sit on a swing. She had that deep thoughtful look. Not, of course, that a frown makes for intelligence.

My other sister? The long awaited and so eagerly greeted by me first sibling? She fits the stereotype of the second child so perfectly it’s painful. It took decades for her to reveal how much she resents me. Mind you, that’s nothing compared to the fact that she (earth mother) left her family, a husband who loves her and a bewildered herd of children (she wanted) in their teens a couple of years ago. But (I suppose) that’s what seconds do. Self destruct. So, yes, back to my watching of aforementioned TV drama, I am confused. That set of siblings does not play by the “natural” order of things.

In case you are wondering about my brother (number three). He keeps well out of everything. To the extent that he appears (note APPEARS) – but isn’t – totally aloof to conflict. His wife of over twenty years, one of the many women who adore him, asked me the other day about my take on her husband’s inner workings. Well, what can I say? Obviously by the time he hit his teenage years I’d already left home so I wasn’t privy to all that happened. All I know that he is one of those affable people who avoid conflict at all cost and, in my opinion  grow an inner crust. Let’s just hope he won’t implode.

So, my dear readers, having laid a significant part of my life open please do let me know where you are in the order of siblings or if, like my brother, you’d rather not be too close up and personal tell me what you think about my theory on generalizations. Namely that they simplify.

U

 

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11 Comments »

  1. Generalisations do simplify depending on the context. I am the eldest of four siblings but don’t think that I am t the bad boy, the black sheep.

    Comment by rummuser — May 23, 2016 @ 15:30 | Reply

    • As, my dear Ramana, you are the eldest and not the “bad boy/black sheep” I am sorry to break it to you that you perform to the stereotype of the “eldest”. Which reminds me: What’s happened to your wayward brother Barath (forgive me if I have misspelled his name – it’s been some time since I saw him in print on your blog’s comment box)? I remember him fondly. One of those people you can cross swords with without tears being shed, amusing.

      U

      Comment by bitchontheblog — May 24, 2016 @ 06:10 | Reply

      • Barath has got other things to worry about I guess and in any case, I hardly blog other than for the weekly LBC.

        Comment by rummuser — May 25, 2016 @ 15:36 | Reply

  2. I was the second of two girls, and I was the peacemaker and responsible one. In our case my sister resented me.

    Comment by cheerfulmonk — May 23, 2016 @ 18:36 | Reply

    • Interesting. Ramana’s family constellation I knew because, on his blog, it’s been documented over time. My other readers’ sibling status I am pretty sure I can guess. Still, there are surprises. I had you down as either an only or, possibly, the older sister of a younger (not spoken of) brother/sister.

      Of course, there are so many variables in family settings that, whilst stereotypes are in place because they are rooted in grains of truth, one could be wide off the mark. Take my sister-in-law. Technically she is the younger of two children. Yet she is so much younger than her brother who fell off the family radar when she was very young that she (in my opinion) qualifies as an only. Self reliant and all that. And so on. In the wake of this post I have done a drum roll of all those in my life and their family “line up”. God damn it, Jean, in the larger families you can bet your bottom Pound Sterling, it’s always one of the ones in the middle who cause their parents grief. I mean REAL grief. Though in the case of my own family, according to my mother, the jury is out who of my two sisters has caused the most. Not that one can quantify pain.

      U

      Comment by bitchontheblog — May 24, 2016 @ 06:04 | Reply

  3. I am the middle of three daughters–the quintessential middle child. I am a peacemaker. I try to see everyone’s point of view. I avoid conflict at all costs. I felt invisible for most of my life and became an overachiever.

    As for generalizations/stereotypes, you are right, U. They serve an important social purpose: they allow us to get on with the business of interacting with each other without having to know every detail about each other. We make assumptions about people because of limited information about them, assuming it is generally correct. Nothing wrong with that as long as we are open-minded enough to adapt our thinking about specific individuals once we get to know them if they fall outside (or defy) those assumptions. If we are so rigid in our beliefs about certain “types” of people even when we get to know them, and in the face of contradictory evidence, that’s when stereotypes turn into prejudice. Sociology lesson compete!

    Comment by Lorna's Voice — May 26, 2016 @ 16:16 | Reply

    • And what an interesting “lesson” it was.

      Yes, I know, Lorna [you being the one in the middle]. Oh my god, doesn’t that transport me back to the night I read your whole back catalogue in one sitting (all night). What a chronicle you wrote there. A wonderful mixture of autobiographical detail with generous sprinklings of insight and humour, amply supported by visual effects. Like all good page turners you kept this reader’s interest going. Come to think of it, it’s actually a possibly underrated talent to serve up some pretty heavy stuff in a way that makes the reader smile and, at times, laugh out loud.

      U

      Comment by bitchontheblog — May 31, 2016 @ 10:52 | Reply

      • Ah, yes. I wonder why such a gem never made it out of obscurity? Oh well, better luck next life. 😐

        Comment by Lorna's Voice — May 31, 2016 @ 19:08 | Reply

  4. I’m the baby – in fact I’m one of those special unexpected babies – who arrived 15 years after the next one – the eldest sister is still alive – so it’s eldest sister, brother, sister & then me little sister…

    Comment by cedar51 — May 28, 2016 @ 03:12 | Reply

    • Yes, Catherine, those little latecomers are indeed special. Probably doesn’t happen so much these days. But in the olden ones [days that is] accidents happened. Indeed HAPPY accidents. So, for instance, one of my aunts was pleasantly surprised when she gave birth to the aunt of her first daughter’s daughter resulting in aunt being younger than niece. If you can’t follow this – don’t worry. Who is whose first cousin second removed is complicated at the best of times.

      U

      Comment by bitchontheblog — May 31, 2016 @ 11:00 | Reply

  5. I am the eldest and reasonably typical but less conscientious than some.
    Of my own four, they conform to type. I have two boys then twin girls. The oldest twin acts as a typical oldest child and the youngest is very much the typical youngest. My second boy has made it very clear that he was completely ignored for his entire childhood, which pains me but it’s too late now…..

    Comment by kylie — June 2, 2016 @ 01:29 | Reply


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