Having had five children of my own, I am still always amazed at how very different they really are. They were all raised in the same household with the same parents and rules (although the older ones challenge that comment for the younger ones!) Yet their uniqueness in some ways is staggering!
Our first born, a daughter is a dominating, tell you how it is kind of girl. She’s the one who would take control, barking orders to her siblings and completely expecting a right response. Of the girls, she was the one who chose to “hang out” with her dad under the hood of the car or working on the tractor, so long as she could be outdoors.
Our second child, another daughter is more the care giver in the family and with her high intelligence we often found her buried in a book somewhere under a tree rather than actively involved in “playing” even as a young child. Her nurturing qualities, not surprising, led her into nursing.
Our third baby, another daughter, was easy going, pleasant, and witty with a great sense of humor, who was perfectly content tending to or playing with her two younger brothers. She was often the fair mediator when issues arose and both boys usually accepted her authority.
Our fourth child and first son is very near the likeness of his father. His steel will, determination and “I can do anything I attempt” attitude generally makes him very matter of fact on how he views what is before him. While it can make him seem abrasive, he has a kind heart and is solid as a rock!
Finally, our fifth child, second son, and “gentle giant,” standing 6’ 4” is easy going, artistic, sports a dry sense of humor, with amazing kindness and a gentle, sensitive heart.
So the question arises, does birth order really factor in to how characteristics apply? According to Samantha Murphy a Cognitive-behavioral psychotherapist and freelance journalist in an article written in 2005, “The Effects of Birth Order On Personality,” it is. As noted in the lists below, specific attributes are given to each “order group.” While it isn’t going to be solidly accurate to each child, (and not complete) I certainly see characteristics and qualities which apply to my own children. Granted I had five, not three, but the first born list applies closely, and the middle born list easily applies to our second daughter. The last born list is, also, quite close to the qualities I see in my son.
This does not mean the list compiled by Ms. Murphy which includes strengths and weaknesses of each group and specific traits couldn’t be different. But it’s interesting to notice the significant qualities which seems to be more prevalent in one group than another.
Is this type of information helpful for parents when natural competition in siblings surface? Does it make a difference in the way parents handle children? Can we be better parents when we see our children “grouped” with others? Only you can decide what works for you.
I believe as parents we need to recognize our children for who they are; support and appreciate their strengths and encourage them in what we consider a weakness. As the next generation of leaders, they must know we trust their good judgment for themselves and for those whose lives they will touch.
Parenting is never easy, but when we allow our young people to grow and interact with their siblings, developing into the vital and productive person they can become, we can sit back with satisfaction knowing we've done the best we can do as parents, as they spread their wings and fly into the very different places their world will take them.
First Born: Middle Born: Last Born
People pleasers Loner Risk Taker
Crave Approval Uptight Idealist
Team Players Outgoing Good Sense of humor
“Grin & bear it” mentality Friendly Sensitive
Movers and shakers Attention seeking Hard working
Driven Competitive Affectionate
Want things their way Peacemaker
Murphy, S. (2005). The Effects of Birth Order On Personality www.birthorderandpersonality.com/indes.html