You’re going on a family road trip with your adult siblings. Which of these three scenarios sounds most like you?
1. You’ve been planning it for weeks, secured the hotel rooms, made restaurant reservations, had the car’s oil changed and have a tank full of gas — and you’ve mapped out rest stops along the way.
2. You’ve been rushing all morning trying to get things together, eventually throwing snacks and clothes haphazardly into your bags at the last minute. If you’re the one driving, you hope you can find a gas station and fill up your half-empty tank on the road.
3. Family trip? Sounds like fun! You’re just along for the ride with no pre-planned contributions except your entertaining funny stories and jokes. You enjoy the snacks your older siblings have packed in the car, and you realise you might need to buy a weather-appropriate coat when you arrive to your destination.
If #1 sounds familiar, you are likely the eldest child.
If the second scenario describes you well, you are probably the middle child.
If you relate the most to the third scenario, then you are most likely the baby of the family.
Birth Order Does Matter
Some researchers believe birth order is as important as gender and almost as important as genetics. It gets back to the old nurture vs. nature business. In my experience as an educator and a researcher, I know that no two children have the same set of parents, even though they live in the same family. Why? Because parents are different with each of their children, and no two children ever take the same role. For example, if you are the caretaking child, then that role is taken and your sibling will pick another role in the family, perhaps that of the achiever.
We Are Different Parents With Each Child
As the parent, you remember your first child well: They were the one you watched to make sure they were breathing in their crib, the baby you breastfed and/or sterilized bottles for and carried most of the time. That child is the only child that will ever have his or her parents completely to his/her self; all other children have to share.
If you think about it, firstborn children enter a family of adults who are proud of their every progress and frightened by every potential injury. The child caught in the middle is often dominated by the firstborn, who is older, wiser and more competent. By the time the baby arrives, parents are usually worn down, worn out and less likely to micro-manage. By now, you know your baby is not going break, and therefore, you can be more flexible in both attention and discipline. As a result, your baby learns early on to seduce and entertain.
The Achiever, The Peacemaker, and The Life of The Party
While the eldest child is programmed for excellence and achievement, the middle child is raised to be understanding and conciliatory and the baby seeks attention. As a result, birth order is a powerful variable in the unfolding of your personality.
The Firstborn Child: The Achiever
The eldest child will probably have more in common with other firstborns than their own brothers and sisters. Because they have had so much control and attention from their first-time parents, they are over-responsible, reliable, well-behaved, careful and smaller versions of their own parents.
If you are a firstborn, you are probably a high achiever who seeks approval, dominates and is that perfectionist who uses up all of the oxygen in the room. You can be found in a leadership career such as law, medicine or as a CEO. As a mini-parent, you try to dominate your sibs. The problem is that when baby number two arrives, you will also experience a sense of loss. By losing your seat on the familial throne, you also lose the special place that singularity holds. All of the attention that was exclusively yours must now be shared by you and your sibling.