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Entries in Large Families (1)

Tuesday
Nov162010

John Boehner's Big Family: Blessing or Curse?

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(AUSTIN, Texas) -- Lynda Meineke said the worst part about growing up in a German-Irish family of 12 children was fighting for the one bathroom in their two-bedroom house in Reading, Ohio. She was lucky, one of three girls who got first dibs. But her brothers, including the GOP's next House Speaker John Boehner, often had to run into the woods or seek a drain in the basement.

Boehner, 61, credits his large family for the social and political skills he says he will need to soon lead the House of Representatives. But despite anecdotal evidence about having many siblings, experts say that research shows no measurable advantages to family size, although birth order can play a role in intelligence.

"The legend, according to people with 12 children, is that it's a good thing, and it usually is," said Toni Falbo, professor of educational psychology at the University of Texas in Austin. "If the parents are fully functioning, bright, capable and hard working, they kind of organize the children so the older ones are responsible for the younger ones, on down the line, and that can work to benefit the kids."

But a 2010 Ohio State University study published in Science Daily concluded that growing up without siblings doesn't seem to be a disadvantage for teenagers when it comes to social skills. Earlier studies had shown that kindergarteners with no brothers or sisters were slightly disadvantaged.

Birth order plays a larger role than family size," according to Falbo.

Because Boehner was second in line, "he had the opportunity to interact with his parents and, in a sense, through this critical period of life, was in a smaller family," she said.

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