Birth Order Explains Some Mysteries
Have you ever stopped to wonder why you and your siblings are so different from each other? Goodness, you grew up in the same family. Shouldn’t you be more like each other? Do you ever wonder as a parent why you can’t ever seem to get along with a certain child, while life is always a breeze with one of your other children? Do you ever wonder why you pick the friends you do? Or why you’re attracted to a certain type of person to marry? These questions and their answers all trace back to one thing; birth order.
Over this past summer, I read “The Birth Order Book” by Kevin Leman. All the information in this blog can be found in his book. As I read, I was shocked that the majority of people don’t know a thing about birth order, besides labeling what order they themselves fall in the family. My goal is to inform you, make you laugh and help you understand yourself on a deeper level, as well as those around you.
Now, in case as I go along you don’t see yourself following the mold of birth order, you need to realize that there are several variables that change up the traditional birth order. These variables include the amount of years between each child, the sex of the child, a sibling death, adoptions, the blending of two families, and even the birth order of each parent.
In this blog post, we’ll look specifically at each birth order, their personality traits, and the strengths and weakness of each. Although this article doesn’t allow for a two-way conversation, I still hope to connect and establish a relationship with you! Before we start looking at each birth order, I want to introduce you to my family! I have found that my family paints an accurate picture of how birth order plays out. Without further delay, meet my family as I share some of the birth order ideas.
Oldest– Natural Leader, Scholarly, Logical, List Maker, Perfectionist
The oldest boy in our family is about to graduate from college. I’m 18, a senior, eager to be a college freshman starting this fall. My sister is in high school. She has more talents than I can count and definitely fits the middle child mold. My brothers are in junior high. The next brother likes to tell himself that he’s invincible, but by the cast he’s had on his leg for the past few months, he obviously isn’t. He too fits the middle child mold. Lastly, there’s the baby. He loves being the entertainer and making people laugh. He’s undoubtedly the baby of the family! I’ll be referencing my family in this blog by sharing personal stories, and showing birth order parallels.
With all of that in mind, let’s take a look at the firstborn. A firstborn can be obviously the firstborn child in the family, but they can also be the first gender born in a family, or a child whose closest sibling is significantly older, leaving a gap, and causing the birth order to start all over again. For example, I’m actually the second child in my family. Because there is a four year gap between my brother and I, the first girl, function as the firstborn in our family.
Typically, every firstborn can relate to some of the following traits: “Perfectionist, list-maker, well-organized, natural leader, scholarly, logical and doesn’t like surprises.” Sound familiar? You must be a first born.
For me, the perfectionist and list-maker part are definitely the case. Before my brother moved off to college, he lived two doors down from me, and let’s just say he wasn’t the cleanest. Thanks to my OCD instincts, I have vivid memories of locking him out of his room and taking three hours to clean, until it finally met my standard of perfection. To this day when I visit him at college, I can be found either cleaning his room, or even worse, his kitchen. (Update: Mom and I decided to stop this enabling activity. So, all adult children are on their own to maintain their spaces. It is up to each person to maintain or not to maintain their living space.)
Interestingly, statistics prove that firstborns often fill positions of high authority or achievement, as well as highly represented by Rhodes scholars and university professors. In a group of fifty pastors, 43 of them raised their hands as firstborns! When it comes to presidents, a significant amount of them happen to be firstborns. In fact, 28 of our 44 US presidents have been firstborns or functional firstborns. A current study aired on CNN stated that “firstborns’ IQs tend to be higher than those of their younger siblings.” Why? Some people believe that it is because as a firstborns, children have their parent’s exclusive attention until another sibling comes along. Because of this, the oldest becomes more responsible, which increases brain power. Not to mention, the oldest child often carries their parents dreams’, so they naturally strive to do more, and outdo all their siblings.
Middle Child – A Mystery, Social, Misplaced, Maverick, Faithful in Marriage
Next, let’s take a look at middle children. The funny thing about middle children is they’re still quite a mystery. This is because middle children tend to copy things that their older siblings do, therefore it is harder to predict or create a mold for them. Even though middle children can be peculiar members of the family, one thing that tends to be consistent is that middle children struggle to feel exceptional as they grow up. Attention is enthusiastically given to the firstborn, and the baby of the family is doted on and spoiled.
Surprisingly, middle borns are the most likely to spend time with their peer group than any other birth order group. I can definitely vouch for this one, because it’s true for both of my middle siblings. They are always the most eager to go to any social activity, and are usually are the ones who make us late, because they’re “socializing.” A little boy recently moved into our neighborhood, who happens to be my middle brother’s age. The day his family moved into their home, they became fast friends. My brother will do literally anything to spend time with his new friend during the week, so we refer to him as the “carrot.” Although my brother doesn’t find it amusing, my family finds it hilarious and and beyond accurate.
Middle children often feel misplaced, and left out, and as a result, collect friends to make up for their “neglect.” To avoid future discomfort, middle borns are also more likely to move away from home sooner than any other sibling. For example, my sister is eagerly anticipating moving away to college next year. Even though it’s 12 hours away, she thinks nothing of it. While trying to make their mark in the family, middle children choose to optimize their inner free spirit, and expose their rebellion. They make exceptions to family rules, and make up their own instead. I can sense each of you making this connection with either a sibling or one of your own children. Don’t worry, I am too!
I am reminded of when she was younger and how she decided to cut 8 inches off her hair, without bothering to inform my mom. In fear of being discovered, she quickly flushed the locks down the toilet. Two days later, her curly hair came only to her shoulders, and she had to pay out of pocket to even things out. Since that day, she has pierced her own cartilage more than a few times, and shops at places with names like “free people.” She is truly her own person. For years, she’s aspired to dye her hair an auburn red the moment she moves out. Why? Probably because red is the rarest hair color, and it’s just one more thing that helps her “optimize her inner free spirit”. (Update: She did dye her hair orange when she went to college. Using a fellow college student with blue hair to do this transformation does create the risk of a surprise outcome. She is back to loving her dark brown hair now that it is healthy once again.)
For middle children, their life goal is to do things completely different from everyone else. They’re a true maverick at heart. Interestingly, middle borns are the most likely to be the most faithful in a marriage, as well as the ones to stay married. Because middle children grow up struggling to fit in, they find themselves driven to make their family work, no matter how messy things get.
Youngest – Charmers, Manipulators, Salespeople, Entertainers, Friendly
Now, it’s time to talk about the babies of the family. Generally, the babies are known as the charmers, manipulators, and are natural salespeople at an early age. Entertainment comes a little too natural for them, and as a result, onlookers watch their every move. A few years ago on a road trip, we took a train to reach one of our destinations. Because of the limited seating arrangements, my youngest sibling, was placed next to several Asians who had just moved to the United States. About 30 minutes later, the Asians knew more about America than they probably wanted, and told my parents they felt like they had known my family for years. My mom has always been worried that my baby brother is a “little too friendly” with strangers and that he would be the perfect victim for a kidnapper. Thankfully though, that nightmare has never come true. In addition to being friendly, he has always been ridiculously teachable. For years, I’ve taken him under my wing and enrolled him in “boyfriend training”. It’s been wildly successful, and I highly recommend it! He has learned everything from sautéing, cooking gourmet meals, cleaning, giving back massages, doing laundry, braiding hair, serving breakfast in bed, and much more. I always remind him that his future wife and I will be instant friends. She will forever thank me for my investment.
Only Child – Similar to First Borns, Mini-Adults, Responsible
If I’m speaking to any only-children, I promise I haven’t forgotten about you! Typically, when someone mentions only-children, everyone assumes they’re snobby, spoiled brats who have always gotten whatever they wanted. In fact, some people believe that only children never grow up and learn to deal with the real world. After all, they had no siblings growing up, how are they supposed to know how to deal with other people?! To be fair, these assumptions are normally confirmed by at least one encounter with an only child, and as a result, it forever shapes our thoughts about only children. However, they are far from true for several people. One of them is Franklin D. Roosevelt. Remember him? Oh yeah, that one man who managed to get elected four times? Yeah him. A few other people who grew up to be decent adults include Leonardo da Vinci, the Duchess of Windsor, Charles Lindbergh, and Isaac Newton. Getting the picture? I thought so! Believe it or not, only-children are very similar to firstborns, especially when it comes to being a perfectionist. Only-children grow into a mini-adult often before the age of 11! Many people only focus on the benefits of being an only child, but never step back to consider how daunting it might be to please two adults all by yourself!
Did You Recognize Yourself?
My hope is that by reading this blog you’ve laughed and enjoyed yourself. Not only that, I hope you’ve realized that every birth order is unique, and comes along with its own set of character traits. My goal is to have given you a small glimpse into each birth order and enough information to properly and successfully interact with people of your opposite birth order. Maybe even a few lightbulbs went off, connections were made, and you finally discovered why your personality is the way it is. All of that said, God has carefully placed each of us in our individual families for specific plans and purposes. Some of those purposes will take years to discover, but regardless, He knows the perfect combination for each family, As you know, every member of our family plays a huge role in who we become as a person.
Update: This blog was written about seven years ago. My siblings and I have grown up now. Birth order continues to be helpful in understanding myself and those around me. Hope you found it fascinating too. Here is an updated picture of all of us.
Identify Your Natural Gifts and Understand Others
In closing, now that I’ve informed you on birth order, I want to inspire you to take your knowledge, use it as wisdom, and implement it to your benefit. Learn to successfully interact with each birth order, whether it be your spouse, your children, extended family, bosses, co-workers, etc. The truth is, we are always encountering new faces, and knowing birth order can allow you to connect with people instantly, while giving you insight on certain character qualities. Despite the diversity, each of our birth orders creates an invaluable imprint on each member of the family, while at the same time, allowing all of us to realize our strengths and weaknesses and be molded into the people we are today.
Check out the Birth Order: Why You Are the Way You Are for more insight on this topic.
Other blogs on FAMILY
Songs for Life: Spiritual Formation in Children
A Silent Tragedy: How We are Raising Our Children
Planning a New Season in Your Child’s Growth
Spiritual Habits of a High Schooler by a High Schooler
Join Tim and me for a conversation on this topic at Embrace Your Everyday podcast.
Books on HOME and FAMILY:
Hum of the Home: Routines and Rhythyms of Homemaking
Nurturing My Nest: Intentional Homebuilding and Custom Built Education
More resources and FREE Downloads at www.nurturingmynest.com
I really enjoyed your reflections from the book. I have had the book on my shelf for a couple of years; Now I’m more eager to read it.
I read a book like that years ago yet, forgot how the first born fits me to a tee. It also reminds me of why my other siblings have come to be the way they are. Gods plan is perfect in all ways