Monday, October 1, 2012

Birth Order

I had to write a post for one of my classes so, as I am not getting much other writing done these days, I decided to share portions of it here.

Alfred Adler was a pioneer of the study of the affects of birth order on children but people are more familiar with Kevin Leman’s “The Birth Order Book: Why You Are the Way You Are?” I can remember when mother read this book for the first time and I talked to her to confirm that I remembered her “diagnosis” correctly. Since there are four of us, we didn’t fit the oldest, middle, youngest so it was interesting to her to see where we lined up in Leman’s birth order. She felt that she had two firstborns, a middle, and a youngest child.’s article on birth order states, “The first born of either gender, no matter where in the sibling order the child falls, will be treated as a firstborn.” And indeed, my mom’s two “firstborns” were different genders. I would be the 2nd child but the firstborn girl. The link is: .

This is copied from the Childhood Development Institute- :
The following characteristics will not apply to all children in every family. Typical characteristics, however, can be identified:
  • Child Pampered and spoiled.
  • Feels incompetent because adults are more capable.
  • Is center of attention; often enjoys position. May feel special.
  • Self-centered.
  • 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.
First Child
  • Is only child for period of time; used to being center
    of attention.
  • 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.
Second Child
  • 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.
Youngest Child
  • 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.
The CDI list says of older children, “May respond to birth of second child by feeling unloved and neglected”. When I was born, my older brother was 4 years old (we’re all about 4 years apart). He actually packed a bag and ran away. It was nine years before we actually began to find things in common and became close. My older brother finished high school and started college a semester early. He attended an unaccredited college to study pastoral theology and, after he completed the requirements, stayed around doing some master’s level classes waiting for my sister-in-law, who started a semester before he did, to graduate. He then went back to an accredited college to get a double major in business and some type of computer degree, which he completed in three years. He has done some work on his master in his field of computers but did not complete that- although he has mentioned to me a few times lately that he thinks he is going to start working on his masters again.

Now, if you ask my sister and I- we’re the middle two- we did not consistently fit the traits of a first or middle child. I had a first child personality as a child into my preteens. I was very outgoing and didn’t know a stranger. Before there was ADHD, I had it. (Okay, obviously there were ADHD cases when I was a child but it wasn’t diagnosed like it is today.) My sister was very shy as a child. When we did hit our teen years, our personalities flipped. My sister says that as I became more caught up in the IFB culture, I became less of myself as I tried to become the perfect “good girl”. I took on more traits of a middle child. When my sister hit her teens, she was suddenly this thin, gorgeous, outgoing, popular girl and became more of a firstborn personality. This was about the time she started trying to tell me what to do! My sister says that she felt like she had to step up because my oldest brother had married by that time so it was almost like we did not have a firstborn in the house. She says now that she is an adult she actually sees more middle child traits in herself than she realized she had.

My poor little brother, he says he had three moms. The article states, “They have been found to be most successful socially and to have the highest self-esteem of all the birth position.” Very true of him. When I took Personality Psychology, we were taught that youngest children are the least likely to take on their parent’s values. My brother is the only agnostic among us and he is the only one who voted for our current president.

The quiz may not be any more real than the ones that people make up for Facebook, but I took the quiz here: and tested as an only child.

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