Tips for Parents
Figuring Out Our Families
Taking a Look at Birth Order
National Sibling Day is coming up on April 10, so focusing on family dynamics makes a lot of sense. Part of the equation can be birth order, which, according to some experts, plays an integral role when it comes to why we are the way we are.
Kevin Leman, author of The Birth Order Book: Why You Are the Way You Are, says that the following general characteristics fit various birth orders:
An Only Child or First-Born may be a perfectionist, reliable, a list-maker, well-organized, critical, serious, scholarly, an achiever, self-sacrificing, a people-pleaser, conservative, a supporter of law and order, believe in authority and ritual, legalistic, loyal and self-reliant. Only children or first-borns often feel confident that others take them seriously.
A Middle Child may be a mediator, have the fewest pictures in the family photo album, avoid conflict, be independent, extremely loyal to a peer group and have special friends. Middle children can have the most contradictory characteristics, such as being friendly and outgoing or quiet and shy. They may be the ones in the family who get "lost."
A Youngest Child may be manipulative, charming, a bit of a showoff, a people person, a good salesperson, precocious, outgoing, affectionate, uncomplicated, rebellious, critical, temperamental, spoiled, impatient and impetuous. Youngest children may sometimes be viewed as absent-minded and have a tough time being taken seriously.
But Wait, There's More...
Of course these are generalities and characteristics may vary. Birth order is about the tendencies we have, based on where we fall in the family. Other factors that may influence birth order include:
- Spacing. If there are more than five years between children, a "second family" of sorts begins, causing children to take on different roles than those mentioned above.
- Gender. If there are two girls in a family and one boy (or some other mix), that can impact how birth order plays out.
- Physicality. The size of kids, their physical beauty/plainness, disabilities and more can also turn "typical" birth order patterns around.
No one person fits all these characteristics. Birth order is but one tool to examine family patterns and relationships in that never-ending quest to figure out your family!
Source: Family Issues Facts from the University of Maine Cooperative Extension
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