This past week I was reminded of the phenomenon known as “birth order.” Many people believe that your position in a family largely determines your personality, who you will marry and what character traits you will exhibit. For example:
- Pampered and spoiled.
- Feels incompetent because adults are more capable.
- Is center of attention; often enjoys position. May feel special.
- Relies on service from others rather than own efforts
- Feels unfairly treated when doesn’t get own way.
- May refuse to cooperate.
- Plays “divide and conquer” to get own way.
- Is only child for period of time; used to being center
- Believes must gain and hold superiority over other children.
- Being right, controlling often important.
- May respond to birth of second child by feeling unloved and neglected.
- Strives to keep or regain parents’ attention through conformity. If this failed, chooses to misbehave.
- May develop competent, responsible behavior or become very discouraged.
- Sometime strives to protect and help others.
- Strives to please.
- Never has parents’ undivided attention.
- Always has sibling ahead who’s more advanced.
- Acts as if in race, trying to catch up or overtake first child. If first child is “good,” second may become “bad.” Develops abilities first child doesn’t exhibit. If first child successful, may feel uncertain of self and abilities.
- May be rebel.
- Often doesn’t like position.
- Feels “squeezed” if third child is born.
- May push down other siblings.
Middle Child of Three
- Has neither rights of oldest nor privileges of youngest.
- Feels life is unfair.
- Feels unloved, left out, “squeezed.”
- Feels doesn’t have place in family.
- Becomes discouraged and “problem child” or elevates self by pushing down other siblings.
- Is adaptable.
- Learns to deal with both oldest and youngest sibling.
- Behaves like only child.
- Feels every one bigger and more capable.
- Expects others to do things, make decisions, take responsibility.
- Feels smallest and weakest. May not be taken seriously.
- Becomes boss of family in getting service and own way.
- Develops feelings of inferiority or becomes “speeder” and overtakes older siblings.
- Remains “The Baby.” Places others in service.
- If youngest of three, often allies with oldest child against middle child.
As a middle child, I am not sure I like what this says about we “Middles!” This quiz is a fun one to take regarding birth order. Although, it did say I was “Likely an only child.”
Seems like everyone is chiming in on the subject of Birth Order:
Of all the things that shape who we are, few seem more arbitrary than the sequence in which we and our siblings pop out of the womb. Maybe it’s your genes that make you a gifted athlete, your training that makes you an accomplished actress, an accident of brain chemistry that makes you a drunk instead of a President. But in family after family, case study after case study, the simple roll of the birth-date dice has an odd and arbitrary power all its own. -Time Magazine
Pamela Fierro at About.com wrote an excellent article on birth order and multiples HERE. Check out her article for some thought provoking ideas and insight into the role we parent play in “assigning” birth order characteristics.
My son was born one minute before his sister, and was one pound larger. He is currently 3 inches and 4 pounds bigger than her. Strangers always seem so relieved that he is the “bigger/older” brother that will be able to protect his “little sister.” And I have to admit, having been raised with a protective older brother (and younger sister), that I liked the idea of our son being born first. What my rational is, I am not sure. To me, it just seemed “right.”
I would love to hear your thoughts on this subject, and your observations of the family hierarchy in your home. I am sure the parents that had one or more children in the home pre-multiples have a different perspective than those of us with multiples first (and/or only.)