Written by: Amanda Levison, M.S., LMHC, LPC, CCBT
By now, we know that birth order does matter. It can affect your personality in both negative and positive ways. While other factors play into who you are and why, birth order has a strong influence. We have no control over it, so how can we embrace it? Let’s begin by identifying birth order and the characteristics associated with it.
If you are the first born:
You are known as the high achiever, go getter, and are expected to be very successful. You are to lead your siblings in a positive way and/or will probably be a doctor, lawyer, or CEO of a company. You plan, over plan, and then replan. Family vacations (when you are the adult) are planned by every hour. You will know what you are doing every minute of every day. Warning: Your siblings may call you a control freak.
To parents of first-born children, remember that oldest children tend to have a lot asked of them. If they are eldest siblings, the caring for their younger brother(s) and/or sister(s) can become an issue. Be mindful of the fact that this is not another parent, even though they may pride themselves on how much they care for their baby siblings.
If you are the middle child:
You are known as the peacemaker. You want everything to be fair. You want to be treated like your older sibling, and want to be loved like the "baby" of the family. You are the sweetheart of the family and want everyone to get along. You know you will receive the least amount of attention in your family and you deal with it. You choose a career that you are able to negotiate as you have had a lot of practice growing up.
To parents of middle children, it’s beneficial to make a point of making him or her feel seen and heard, to notice the accomplishments and celebrate the successes, as it’s not uncommon for middle child to feel invisible. Listen with your heart to his/her opinions. When the situation calls for it, at times give this child some of the duties you would automatically give to the first born.
If you are the youngest child:
You are known, as your parent's favorite, as they are planning on living with you when they get old. You may "get away" with a lot more as your parents are worn out. You are given more freedom and you have a laid back attitude. You choose a career that you can express your creativity such as a teacher or a counselor.
To the parents of last born children, remember that even though you are a professional parent by now, this little one needs to be reminded of boundaries and limitations as much as your older children. By making sure he/she gets as many chores as his/her older siblings and keeping the playing field level and fair we can significantly diminish the resentment often times experienced by older siblings towards the youngest.
Although birth order leads to different personalities and career choices nothing is carved in stone. Follow the path that you feel is good for you and you will be successful and most importantly happy!