Birth Order. The Follow Up.

big family

Courtesy Tid.net

According to the comment thread from a year ago, most bloggers/writers are first-born children. It was not even close. My very unscientific results:

First Born – 33.   Middle Child – 4.  Last Born –  4  Clone – 1.

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The order in which you arrived in your family might have had influence in your development and your personality.

While this is not hard science and open for debate, these attributes were studied by psychologist and author Dr. Kevin Leman for years before he published The Birth Order Book: Why You Are the Way You Are in 1982.

To provide a bit of a summary…

First Born: Leaders, Perfectionists, Cautious, Structured, Controlling, Aggressive, Approval-Seekers, especially of those in authority.

Middle Born: People Pleasers, Peacemakers, Diplomatic, Secretive, Rebellious , Diverse in skills, anything that is different from older sibling.

Last Born: Social, Outgoing, Manipulative, Charming, Attention-seeking, Fun-loving, Potential to be financially irresponsible.

There are exceptions that are noteworthy. Gender matters; the first born son and the first born daughter will have similar traits, no matter who else arrives in the family. If there is a time gap of at least 5 years between children, the birth order structure starts over.

Twins function as one unit, adopted children are dependent on the age they were when arriving in the family, and divorce and remarriage present their own unique issues, as Dr. Leman says “blended families don’t blend; they collide.”

And then there is the only child. Without sibling competition, this one has all his parents’ attention and resources, but also all of their expectations.

Only Children: Leaders, Conscientious, Perfectionists, Mature for their age, Diligent, The Super First Borns.

Old Woman in ShoeHis book has undergone several revisions, the latest published in 2009.

His presentation was light-hearted and funny, but the first time I heard Dr. Leman speak to this topic, my jaw dropped.

At least among the 10 siblings that my husband and I share, his theories held up… remarkably, sometimes painfully accurate.

Note: I wonder if I could guess the birth order of my WordPress friends ? Where do the writers tend to fall ??

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152 Responses to Birth Order. The Follow Up.

  1. Sue Vincent says:

    First born here… with two younger brothers 10 and 15 years my junior 🙂

  2. First born, two younger brothers, one and four years apart. Leman’s description isn’t too far from our reality. Loved the line about blended families colliding.

    Where do you fall on the scheme, Van?

  3. Erika Kind says:

    That was very interesting. While reading the order summery I thought of my sisters and I. I have to admit that this is pretty real!!!

  4. First born, with one younger biological sister, and a sibling group of five adopted siblings under her.

  5. The picture is priceless….hehe (chickens)

  6. Amy says:

    I never quite knew where to place myself in the birth order since my brother was first, then me a year and a half later and then ten years later it was my sister and then my other sister a year and a half later. Interesting.

  7. First born! Oldest of five kids born within seven years. I am the poster child for first born and my baby sister, Mary, is exactly as the youngest is described. Gad, I hate conforming to stereotype but there you have it. Of course my younger sister will confess that she had completely different parents than I did – by the time she came of age, my parents were like “screw it, she’ll be fine” whereas I was under a microscope. Too funny.

  8. Nurse Kelly says:

    Middle child – perfect description plus neglected – my parents had one daughter already and wanted a son – got me, then their son after me…who is the apple of their eye…oh poor me, I know lol

    • Sorry, Kelly, I get it. I’ve often addressed this with my next sister, the 3rd girl, who was named after my dad. Then the miracle baby boy was born. She was dismissed. So sad. The benefit for her, was that she came 6 years after me…so, more like a first child, I guess, if you follow along.

  9. Firstborn, with one brother 16 months younger than me. I’ve read about this before and it’s very interesting! ❤
    Diana xo

  10. I’ve read these theories before and I have qualities from a few “types”. I’m number five of eight but am the oldest daughter and there’s an 8 year gap between me and my next older brother. So I have many of the traits of an oldest child but not all of them. There’s then four years between me and one sister and then I was in my mid-teens when my youngest siblings were born. So I think the slightly strange shape of my family has an impact on the dynamic in our relationships with each other and on the qualities we possess as individuals.

    • Wow, 8 children. You could write a few chapters to this book yourself, Laura. Are you closest to the youngest ones ? It seems I was, since I helped to raise them a bit when I was a teen.

      • I am closest to the younger siblings, yes. Overall I’m probably closest to the sister four years younger than me as we have more shared history than I have with the others. But then she is probably closest to our other sister who is ten years younger than her because they have a lot more in common with each other despite the large age gap. My two oldest brothers – who were teens when I was born – used to look after me and play with me so I had a different sort of close relationship with them and one I probably then replicated with my youngest siblings. All sorts of circumstantial stuff has had an impact on our sibling relationships so birth order is probably one of the least significant elements in determining how we are with each other.

        However, I do see the birth order things very strongly in my own four sons.

      • The four sons…a very different dynamic for you, Laura. Thanks for your thoughtful contributions. 💕

      • You are very welcome. My kids (aside from emigrating) are having a far more textbook upbringing than I experienced so perhaps that makes them better scientific specimens for this theory.

      • That must be true. ☺

  11. First Born. Yep. Painfully accurate!

  12. First born, Van with two younger brothers not too far behind me in age. We are right out of the text book when it comes to birth order.

  13. LaVagabonde says:

    First born of 5. 😮

  14. lbeth1950 says:

    Second born. My parents had a second family. God help them. Mother trusted us to help raise them. It’s a wonder “my baby” survived. I dragged her right along with me.

    • There are but a few of us seconds here, Linda. Welcome !

      I get the 2nd family…my parents had 3 separate families…in groups of 2 kids each..very different life experience for us all ! ☺ Van

  15. I’m the middle child – and the rebellious, secretive, and diverse skills fit me – but I’m no peacemaker – I’m WAAAAAAAAAAY too blunt.

    • I didn’t think of myself as rebellious, until I realize that I’ve been surrounded by first borns all my life..and really do “fight the power”. All parents, both sides, grandparents, husband and now my son and daughter…all only children or first born. I’m so stressed. lol ☺

  16. amommasview says:

    Wow, that’s very interesting!

  17. Well I have two older half brothers. The youngest is (I think) 6 years older than me. I have a younger sister and we are 15 months apart. So, do I qualify as a first born? I am my mother’s first child. The description of the last born fits my sister to a tee.

  18. Angie Mc says:

    First born of 3, brother 2 years my junior, sister 8 years my junior. We are painfully conforming to this theory. You are not surprised 😀 What are you, Van? Did I miss it?

  19. I’ve hinted at, if not mentioned my birth order…can you guess? =)

  20. Pingback: My Picks Of The Week #24 | A Momma's View

  21. I am the middle child. Sandwiched between two brothers who nearly tore my childhood to shreds with their boisterous behavior. Now I love them but man did I ever wish they would have left me alone when I was a girl.

  22. I’m a first-born through and through. Have had to let go of perfectionism and unrealistic expectations of myself.

  23. This research is squarely on point. (Eldest speaking now)!

  24. Lisa A. says:

    I’m a year late commenting but I’m a first born. I have a sister and brother in their 20’s. I’m in my mid-30’s. I’m kind of a perfectionist but not really. 😂

  25. Erika Kind says:

    I read it again and was also amazed again how fitting this is!

    • You never mentioned…are you a first, Erika ? ☺

      • Erika Kind says:

        Yep!!! How did you guess…. lol! I always had to be the role model for others and I was always treated stricter and to prove more… so the characteristics you mentioned are there. But because they blocked me so much I worked on them and most of all that control issue has gotten a lot better. But I am basically still very hard on myself!

      • It’s that perfectionist quality creeping up, Erika. And first borns learn from the adult parents, no sibling buffers, so they expect so much of themselves at an early age. It fits. 💛 💙 💜

      • Erika Kind says:

        You nailed it, Van! I am thankful for it because it made me come so far. I often swallowed my pride and went through my fears where others backed off. But I was used to do it anyway even when it made me feel sick. In the end I benefitted from it. It always made me stand up again, no matter what I had to face. So, I don’t want to miss those characteristics… just need to make sure they are on a healthy level… haha!

      • You seem to be doing just fine with it all, Erika. ☺

      • Erika Kind says:

        You are such a kind soul, Van 💖

  26. I’ve always advocated birth order as highly significant. Have a stab at mine, and I’ll let you know if you are right. 🙂

    • Hmmmm. Not sure why, Derrick, but maybe middle child ? You seem to have a diplomatic nature that fits.

      • Eldest of five 🙂 but I always find myself leading – as my role in the family required; I think the diplomatic nature comes from an awareness of others, also from a responsibility for caring for siblings, and instinctively knowing parents’ wishes.

      • I understand, and am not surprised, Derrick. Many of us were older siblings, responsible for the care and feeding of the younger. Thanks for the share. 💛 💙 💜

  27. Sadie's Nest says:

    So interesting! I’m a first born, more like an only child since my sister was born 9 years later. “A super first born”! I love this analyzing stuff. I read a great article once about married couples; about how often a first born and a last born make a great match since they balance each other out. I can’t remember all of the dynamics, that is really the part that stuck out to me since that is exactly what I did.

    • I was a 2nd born, but there were 6 years till the next, so I fit the qualities of a middle/youngest blend. Husband is a first born, so it has worked for us, Sadie. Thanks for sharing. ❤️

  28. So interesting. First born here and no one else blogs.

  29. davidprosser says:

    Middle born child. An older sister by 5 years and a brother younger by 7 years. She neither wrote nor blogged and he isn’t interested in it at all.
    xxx Huge Hugs xxx

    • You are the first born son, and that throws out all the middle child aspects, David.☺ It seems to be reinforced by that brother who came 7 years later. My first-born theory about writers seems to be holding out here. Thanks for sharing. ❤️

  30. Interesting post and comments here.
    At 60, I’m the youngest of 4 (2 brothers 12 and 14 years older, one sister almost 5 years older). I’m the musician, good money manager and writer (read blogger with the occasional poem or short story and of long letters).
    Hubby is also the youngest, but of three. His first born sister died in infancy. There are 10 years between him and his sister, they have no contact, and as far as his mother was concerned, she only had the one child.

  31. Interesting read….very accurate for my birth order as well as my children’s. I am first born. My son who blogs is also first born. I don’t agree with the 5 year rule as I have a middle child born many years after the first and she is DEFINITELY rebellious and many other middle child “isms”.

  32. I should add all three of my daughters blog and my husband (third and youngest child) also blogs.

    • Okay, then. Thanks for sharing your family of writers…wonderful.☺ Do you all read each other’s posts ? Just curious.

      • I read my husband’s and he reads mine. My kids think my husband’s and mine are boring and embarrassing and only read them sometimes. We all read our oldest daughter’s blog–it is a surf lifestyle magazine thingy. The two younger daughters won’t let us read their blogs (won’t tell us the address or name) because they are anonymous diaries of sorts and presumably they would like to be able to say things such as “Mom is a butt” without having to worry. Of course I suspect there is serious writing mixed in there as well as they have read us some pieces here and there. LOL!

      • I wondered about those privacy issues. No one in the family reads mine, unless I copy and paste a few select posts that I want to share. Thanks, Jane. 💕

  33. kingmidget says:

    This last born child (youngest of four) apparently is the exception that proves the rule. And the qualities that book describes for last born are completely and totally off the mark. And looking at your comment just above about family reading your blog (or not) … I, too, have a family that generally doesn’t read my blog. I know my wife doesn’t. One of my sons does, but probably very rarely and only because he occasionally sees a link to one of my posts on Twitter. My other son doesn’t. It says something to me.

    • Interesting, King. I chose to blog anonymously, for the ability to be candid, mostly about my birth family. Then it evolved into something a bit lighter. I talk about it a lot, but no one asks questions. So…I’ll keep it mostly to myself. Thanks for sharing. 💘

      • kingmidget says:

        I started out anonymous, but when I started publishing books, if I wanted to use my blog to promote them, I kind of had to come out of the closet. Although they don’t read it, my family does know about my blog. As do co-workers and friends. As a result, there are things I can’t blog about that I soooooooo wish I could.

        I actually have a secret blog or two that I go to when I need to write about those things. 😉

      • That’s a smart strategy, King. It’s one of the concerns I have about publishing. I’ll get past it one day. Thanks. ☺

      • kingmidget says:

        I need an avenue for some of the things I need to vent. I have friends I can always call and talk to and I do that. But sometimes, I just need to write it and not talk about it and hash it out with a friend. I just need to vent. So, yes, there are those private blogs. Two of them. One for this one topic and one for this other topic. 😉

  34. Hm, I was the third child in my family, but the first female child, and I heard from my aunt that my parents really wanted a daughter after having two boys. So, does that make me a first-born?

  35. Brenda says:

    An interesting observation. I’m first born as well. 🙂

  36. Bun Karyudo says:

    Hmm… I’m a first born, but I think I sound more like a second born. My younger brother sounds more like the first born. There’s only 11 months between us, though, so for most of our childhood apart from the very earliest times (which I can’t remember anyway) we seemed to be about at roughly the same stage of development. Interesting! 🙂

  37. There may be something in it Van.. I too am a first born eldest of 5 🙂 its interesting isn’t it 🙂 xx

  38. I am a first-born, and the description fits, for the most part.

  39. interesting for sure! I am the youngest of two but people assume I am the older sibling even if they have never met my older sister. weird

  40. spearfruit says:

    Many of the attributes fit me perfectly, but I will keep it to myself, which one I am . Thanks Van, hope your day is a happy one. 🙂

  41. First Born. Yep. Painfully accurate!

  42. Wow! How interesting. I am first born, as well as my husband and I can identity these traits, now I understand my kid’s a lot more.

  43. Rowena says:

    Great topic choice, Van and I’ve also enjoyed reading the comments.
    I am 1st born with a brother 2.5 years younger. The descriptions fit us well. My husband is one of four and he was a surprise…17,15 and 10 years younger than his older siblings. He has the traits of an only child where his sister next up who was meant to be the youngest, fits that description perfectly.
    Birth order is a good thing to keep in mind for character development, don’t you think?!!
    xx Rowena

  44. joey says:

    I’ve find these to be truths, with very few exceptions. Having had no siblings and having so many kids, it’s hard to relate to sibling business, and so I’ve always been fascinated.
    I maintain that Sassy is a born mediator, not because she’s a middler, but because she’s a Libra. I don’t feel like we had middle children, more we had two sets of two, almost like two families at once. There’s a seven year gap, although we tried immediately.
    More of my friends are oldests.

    • You’re so right about that gap, Joey, my birth family had 3 very different sets of 2 kids in their 6. It completely changes the dynamic. Glad you enjoyed the post and found some relevance. 💛 💙 💜

  45. Deb says:

    I was the last born among three. My sister is the oldest being 4 years older than I, my brother is 2-1/2 years older. Interesting descriptions and most of it accurate. Love this topic! 🙂

  46. sepultura13 says:

    LOL – well, this gets complex, almost! I’m first-born to my mother, but not to my father…and was adopted as the ‘baby’ of the family who raised me. Then, at 12, I became the ‘middle’ child! I mostly have the first-born traits, but can relate quite well with ‘middle-child syndrome,’ in some ways. Great post!
    🙂

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