Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Birth Order?

For a whole variety of reasons, not least my own children, I have been pondering a fair bit recently on the idea that birth order among siblings impacts on personalities, and in turn, on family dynamics.

Whether I am thinking of my own three children or other families I know, it seems that there is perhaps, a pattern?

Whether I am over analytical about children or adult personality traits, does birth order have an impact, d'you think?

I am one of five. I have three elder siblings and one younger brother. In theory then, I am the fourth born.

Which, apparently, means I carry the following traits:

  • entertaining due to the ability to imitate many personalities.
  • feels 'not big enough' thus isolated and has a desire for belonging.
  • analyzes things from many points of view and can come up with ingenious and balanced ideas.
  • is thoughtful, understanding and empathetic of others
However, amongst my elder siblings we have twins, so does that mean that I am really a third born type?

  • acquainted with feeling vulnerable and can be clingy.
  • thinks in comparative ways, giving rise to new ideas and even practical inventions.
  • is sympathetic with others who are vulnerable and very protective.
  • has challenges being cooperative with others due to having to survive by being rebellious.
Equally, there is a large age gap of nine years between my elder siblings and I - and as such, the elder three were always know as "the big children" when my younger brother and I were always known (and treated like) the "baby children". So would that make me adapt to "last born" traits? Which are, apparently -
  • Social and outgoing
  • Financially irresponsible
  • Attention seeking lovers of limelight
  • Manipulative and spoiled
And to throw a spanner in the works, my elder siblings were very much doing their own thing by the time I  came along, and I have a younger brother; (who, I hasten to add in case he is reading along, does NOT display last born traits...) So I wonder, so does the age gap simply make me more of a first born type?


  • has the challenge of gaining the lost affection from parents when a baby brother/sister comes along, by waiting for attention.
  • covers up the deep longing for love by being tough.
  • is an over achiever and has perfectionist traits.
  • finds it challenging to share thoughts and feelings.
Far out, it's a minefield! You can see why I am spinning out, thinking and reading about it all.

How about you?

Have you read books on birth order?

Any truth in it all for you?

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  1. just like horoscopes in the paper in my opinion.

    You can read what you want in them. I can be all of them, and so can all of my kids.

    MPS was a middle child and the most loved and spoiled of the three. I was a classic oldest child. Meh.

  2. Birth order, like horoscopes and everything else, you can read into it what you will. My daughter is born 5hours into one horoscope sign but is so definitely the one before that. Because you have to take all the other moons and whatever into account. I think it's the same for birth order. No one person is defined by just the order they were born in, in a family. Which is why we're all so different - thank goodness ;)

  3. Birth order definitely makes a difference. I mean, okay in my case my mom had my sister like 18 years before she had me. My mom was an entirely different person living a whole different life by the time I came around. Now I don't know about set traits that are true for every 'firstborns' 'secondborns' etc, but it makes a lot of difference.
    like by the time the second kid comes around you're less... stupid. i have one child. before him, i was scared to pick up a baby. i had never changed a diaper. if he ever gets a sibling that sibling will have a more experienced mommy. and it does make a difference, having siblings to look up to. my sister has 6 kids, ranging from 27 to 6 and it's interesting to see their family dynamics and the differences between them. i could go on and on and on and on, but i'll spare you. interesting thoughts- thanks for the post.

  4. Being the eldest, is a tough gig!!

  5. It's fascinating. I haven't read too much about it but I only know how I feel.
    I'm the youngest of 6 and feel like my family doesn't take much notice of me or consider much that I say very seriously. Yet I want their attention.
    I see those parallels in my life but have yet to totally break through them. Birth order is definitely a factor.

  6. Oh my goodness! My already sleepy mind is spinning out of control right now! LOL Now I'm rethinking my entire existence because I am the 4th child, yet 11 years separates me from my 3 older siblings and I have a sister who is 3 years younger than I. I keep grasping at the traits you've listed in each section... "oh yea, that's me! that makes sense..... No WAIT!.... This one is more like me!!!" Thank you for this post! T'was quite fun to read and messed with my head just right! :)

  7. I am a 'first born'. Born into a migrant family, already traumatised and suspicious. I am also a female. Born over 50 years ago. My brother was born 3 years later and sickly. So, girl born first into greek family + brother who is sick and gets all the attention + both parents working making us 'latch key' kids. Do I have any issues? OMG I need 15 blogs to cover it.

  8. Joel and I are both firstborns. And are both very much the 'responsible' ones of the family. Both of us had siblings who went through the very rebellious stage (my 3 are in their early 30s and haven't come out of their pot loving, irresponsible, bad parenting life styles, his have settled down).

    Each of us was the one expected (not that we would want it any different) to step up to the plate when our parents or anyone need us. It was just a given.

  9. Hee hee - I'm a confused one, too.

    I'm the third of four kids, which makes me a third child (which is a stereotype I fit into quite nicely, actually!), or perhaps a middle child? But then, my younger brother is 10 years younger than me so I'm a bit of a youngest child, too.

  10. you are so a first born!

    I think it carries some weight. There was a discussion on Insight on the ABC about this concept and I thought it certainly had a place.

    I've read some books that talk about birth order and how that fits in with relationship/marriage. It made sense to me in terms of leadership and balance in a relationship.

    Hmmmmm very interesting!

  11. Yep I love birth order theory. I blogged about this too a about a month ago. When I did some reading I asked people around me their opinion and found some of the stuff true.

    I'm a third and last born but there is 9 years between me and my sister so I have a lot of first born traits.

    It's not an exact science and I wouldn't hire or fire someone based on it.

    It's just a bit of fun. But I do think its fascinating.

    Love & stuff
    Mrs M

  12. I've always found this interesting. I'm also a forth born but I'm the only girl which gives me traits of first born and the baby. The funny thing is my husband is also a forth born child and the only boy.

  13. The birth order traits definitely show in my family. I am a first born and I act like one. The description fits me to a T. It's not even funny how accurate that is... :)

  14. Order of birth, birth sign, culture, creed, with such a roadmap already in place maybe I can just chill a bit more with the parenting. Not sure what influence is left!

  15. I'm the baby of the family... my family would say Imost definitey fit in to the last born category :-P

  16. Well, I'm an only child. I like to think I have the more positive traits of an only child (self-sufficient, independent, friendly) and not the negative (i.e. selfish, spoiled).

    I think parenting has quite a bit to do with personality deveopment, too.

  17. I believe that everyone can fall into those typical traits of the oldest, youngest, middle child, but outside influences can mold personality too. I agree with everyone here about horoscopes, you can take what you want from them I would overanalyze. As you grow older, personality traits can change, I was a typical virgo when I was younger: Picky eater, procrastinator, but as I grew older things changes after personal experiences. :) Great post! Def could relate to having a 9 year span between siblings. I am 28, by brother is 19 and we have a brother who is 11, and then they have a brother who is 1 years old. It just doesnt stop. lol Its a cycle


  18. I think there are certain things that influence who we are and birth order is possibly one of them.
    I tend not to analyse these things too much and focus more on our parenting style. This is what I have control over. The rest, well, what ever will be, will be!
    Great food for thought x

  19. I am first born. However in my life the biggest impact is the closeness of the birth of my brother, the second born. We are not even a year apart.

    We were vastly poor in the rural south. So we had each other and the countryside. We explored and then explored some more. When we were done with exploring, we explored some more.

    This had a HUGE impact on my present outlook.

  20. I've definately realised these trends too...It's just me and my younger brother and it's exactly what you've written I do find it hard to get my point across and as for the over achiever thing I'm the one thats finished uni in the family...you realise these faint hints in all family relationships its very true.

    ps I love reading your blogs =)

  21. you are so right about all the variations that complicate the birth order thing. i am eldest. my half sister (maternal side) is 8 years younger than me, however she is not the least bit "eldest", my dad had 3 kids with his 2nd wife and honestly, i don't know them that well.

    i do tend to fall into the oldest child category as far as the over achiever side.

  22. I think there is definitely sometgng in it, but to confuse the debate even more, I think gender plays a big role in it too. So first born son / first born daughter and so on... I know that amongst my three sisters and we definitely show birth-order traits - until we don't. Hmmm... Maybe it is a bit like horoscopes! x

  23. what book do you suggest I read for birth order? I was having an interesting conversation with my dad's clients and birth orders came up. I'm a middle child and would love to read into it!


  24. Although interesting, I'm not sure you can give any plausability to these predictions regarding birth order. Both my husband and I are first borns in a family of 2 kids (he has a younger brother, I have a younger sister). I don't have nearly as many of the "first born" characteristics, but my husband has a few. So, although intersting (and maybe kind of funny), I don't believe it's believable. Fun, but frivolous!


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