De-identification and its effects on middle children

Jeffrey Kluger, Science Journalist & Author, explains the concept of de-identification, how it often effects the middle child in families, and shares advice for parents on how to help it to not have a negative affect on their child
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De-identification and its effects on middle children

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De-identification is the exact opposite of emulation. We think of older kids as role models for younger kids, and that's often the case. But sometimes kids will use their older siblings as inverse role models, and that's not always a bad thing. If my older brother is a high school football player and gets a lot of family recognition for it, I could do that too, but at most I'm only going to get 50 percent of the recognition in the house for athletics. I could, instead, decide to get involved in student government or become an artist and get 100 percent of the attention for that. The downside is when you de-identify about the wrong things. If my brother is academic and I decide to become something of a slacker, well, that's not going to be in my interest even if I'm getting negative attention for doing that. So you'll often see that good academics can skip a birth order role--first, third, and fifth are good students, and second and fourth aren't. Identification and de-identification can also play a role in risky behavior--smoking, drinking, drug use--often simply because of the availability of a substance. Younger kids will emulate older kids, but also there younger kids can sometimes choose to say, "Yes, my big brother is getting a lot of negative attention, but attention all the same, because he was caught smoking. I'm going to de-identify and avoid that problems so sometimes it can work in their interests.

Jeffrey Kluger, Science Journalist & Author, explains the concept of de-identification, how it often effects the middle child in families, and shares advice for parents on how to help it to not have a negative affect on their child

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Jeffrey Kluger

Science Journalist & Author

Jeffrey Kluger is a senior editor and writer at Time magazine, covering science, health and other fields. He is the coauthor, along with astronaut Jim Lovell, of Apollo 13, the book that served as the basis of the 1995 movie. His more-recent release, Splendid Solution, told the story of Jonas Salk and the Polio Vaccine.  His novel, Nacky Patcher and the Curse of the Dry-Land Boats, was published in June 2007, and his newest nonfiction book, Simplexity: Why Simple Things Become Complex, was published in June 2008.

Before coming to Time, Kluger worked for Discover magazine, where he was a senior editor and humor columnist. Prior to that, he was health editor at Family Circle magazine, story editor at The New York Times Business World Magazine, and Associate Editor at Science Digest magazine. His features and columns have appeared in dozens of publications, including The New York Times Magazine, Gentlemen's Quarterly, The Wall Street Journal, Cosmopolitan, Omni, McCall's, New York Magazine, The New York Post, Newsday, and, of course, Time. He has worked as an adjunct instructor in the graduate journalism program at New York University; is a licensed—though non-practicing—attorney; and is a graduate of the University of Maryland and the University of Baltimore School of Law. He lives in New York City with his wife Alejandra and their daughters, Elisa and Paloma.

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