The study of birth order— how one’s placement amongst siblings can shape one’s personality— began in 1874, when Charles Darwin’s cousin noticed that eldest sons were overrepresented as members of the Royal Society. In other words, sibling rivalry is survival of the fittest, playing out in real time right at your dinner table.
Some say that assigning personality traits to an only child or a middle child is like reading a horoscope—the traits are vague enough it’s easy to assign them to anyone.
But we are firm believers in the power of birth order. Amy is the oldest of six and annoys all those around her with her insistent list-making. Margaret is third out of four, and she says her car keys have to be around here somewhere. Recognizing the strength of these roles in our families is important because we can work against them— or inadvertently reinforce them— with how we parent.
In this episode you’ll find out:
- why oldest siblings love rules
- why middle siblings are more able to change their minds
- why younger siblings are such smooth talkers
- how your own birth order affects what kind of parent you are
And we also talk about:
- how to tap the brakes on your oldest child’s intensity
- why you should give your middle child the power of small-decision-making
- why you should resist intervening on the youngest child’s behalf
We can’t fully counteract the influence of these familial roles— nor should we, they’re not THAT big a deal— but awareness is a good thing. Let the middle kid pick what’s for dinner once in a while.
Here’s links to some further reading on this topic:
Ingela Ratledge for Real Simple: What Your Birth Order Says About Your Personality
The Birth Order Book: Why You Are the Way You Are by Kevin Leman, PhD
Born to Rebel: Birth Order, Family Dynamics, and Creative Lives by Frank J. Sulloway
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