Chapter 5 discussed how early starts, namely entering school early, affects a child later on in life. What surprised me was that it wasn’t being younger than your peers that was a predictor of later stress, it was starting a year or so early. Students that skipped a grade or two were no more likely to have struggles later in life, but kids that started kindergarten a year or two early seemed to dwindle on average. I find this rather strange considering how important socialization and education is for childhood development.
Chapter 6 examined the effects of divorce on children. It is not surprising that it the leading social predictor of reduced longevity, but what was interesting was that parental death during childhood did not have the same effect, even though they are both extreme stressors for children. I also found it interesting that the relationship between family happiness and divorce was looked at, because often it is assumed that the marriage should be maintained for the child regardless of the quality of it. I saw it with one of best friends, he didn’t have a good relationship with his stepdad, but did with his mom and father. Once his mom and stepdad separated, the life returned to him. His mom said she found him smiling in his sleep and that neither of them realized how much of a naturally happy person he was until he was out of the unhappy household. The chapter seemed to follow the pattern of the rest of the book: how you deal with stress and how conscientious you are is the strongest predictor of longevity.