Recently, I’ve been kind of slapped in the face at how people raised in seemingly the same type of environment (Heck, even by the same parents) can act so differently. It comes in a multitude of ways, showing its face in bad ways and worse ways, but I think you can see it in almost any two people brought up similarly.
Take for example Michael and I and all our friends. We have been very grounded in our ideas for the future. We know we want to be together and all that stuff, but we aren’t rushing it. There’s no point in it because we both are fully aware that we are not ready by any means. We could not afford to have a wedding let alone actually be married. That hasn’t stopped two couples around us, though. Our best friends got engaged about 6 months ago, and they will be married in October. They have more problems than just monetary, but even if we just limit it to that, they cannot possibly be ready. Combined, they make less than Michael. Nevertheless, it’s on as far as they as concerned. I think they’ve finally realized it, but they are just pretending the problem isn’t there to make things easier for their respective significant other.
On the other hand, you have Michael’s sister. Spoiled is putting things lightly when describing her. She is fully convinced that she and her fiance can live on his salary and maintain the very comfortable lifestyle she has become accustomed to. I wouldn’t count my eggs before they hatch on that part. But how can we be the only two to realize the consequences of rushing into things? Certainly, we cannot be the smartest two of the group. (Okay, maybe we can be, but the rest of them aren’t that stupid.) It’s got to be something about the way we were raised despite all being raised in seemingly normal consequences.
Here’s the theory we seem to agree upon. (And by we I mean me combining conversations I’ve had with Mom and Michael.) Little nuances of variation in parenting make for huge differences in the child.
At first, I was trying to explain this all by personality traits linked to birth order, but then it hit me that that pop psychology couldn’t be it. If that were the case, my best friend and I wouldn’t be so different in thinking about the given marriage example. Actually, me and neither of my best friends would because all three of us are only children who grew up in the middle class. (We may be in different levels of the middle class, but we were all middle class just the same.) Traits associated with birth order, according to Parenting.com, are mature for the child’s age, perfectionists, conscientious, diligent, and leaders. As adults, we don’t shed that need to be perfect in everything. It seems to me like I’m the only one who these apply to. My best friends don’t exactly have the best work ethics nor do they have the attention for detail that I do. I fit this traits, yet they are the ones dying to be married despite not being in a good situation for it. I think it has to do with being sheltered and not being pushed as hard in school as I have been.
Then we move on to the boyfriends. (We’re disregarding Michael’s sister’s because I don’t actually know anything about him so I can’t make any arguments there.) Michael and his best friend (the fiance of my one best friend) are both the oldest. Therefore, the article says they should be cautious, responsible, structured, controlling, achievers, and a bunch of other traits along those lines. I like that the author refers to the first born as a “mini-adult” and that the traits aren’t lost in their transition to adulthood. As I think about it, the fiance really does have many of these traits. He’d been pushing off the proposal as long as possible, hoping to be in the best situation possible before the nuptials. Honestly, it shocked us all when we heard he’d popped the question when he did. I’d say Michael has most of these characteristics. He definitely takes on the adult role when it comes to his sister, and he has been just as cautious and conscientious about planning things out as I have. Maybe the problem in our case is the girls….
The bride-to-be had been pushing marriage pretty hard over the past year. We still aren’t sure if he just gave in, but something different must have been triggered between us because Michael and I have been dating as long as the two of them had when she started pushing so hard, and I couldn’t not want to be engaged more at this point in my life. My other best friend is the same way, though. She hasn’t been in a relationship in years, but all I hear is how she was supposed to be engaged and planning her wedding at this point in her life and how she doesn’t understand why I am so against it. I thought my argument was very clear: I want to be Jessie before I become someone’s wife. I want to get a job and have a chance to not be a wife and mom before I am one. While their busy trying to be those things, I’m busy trying to find a job for after graduation so we can have a little cash when we start to move on to the next stuff.
I know in psychology there are no losers, and we all win because there’s never a definitive answer, but I’d be willing to place some decent money–and I am not one to gamble–that this isn’t a combination of nurture and nature. This one is a whole lot more nurture than it is nature. I don’t know about them, but my mom and dad raised me to be my own person and to be prepared before I get myself into something serious. Sure, someday I want to be a great mom like mine, and Michael wants all that adult stuff, too, but we’ve got some stuff to do before we get to all that. I guess our friend’s parents didn’t instill that in them.