We all take roles in our family, and many of these roles are taken based upon birth order!
Parents, parent their first born, second born and last born differently. It’s inevitable. Parents continue to evolve and grow, as their families do. Each spot, has unique attributes, qualities & challenges. It’s why no two children have the same parents, even though they live in the same family. No two children are alike, and they are each parented differently based upon order and their personality.
First born children get undivided love & attention from their first time parents. They are in essence an experiment, with tremendous amount of attention. This attention may also come with a tremendous amount of pressure to succeed. Parents have high expectations from their first born, whom they become is a reflection upon the family name. Which often lead to first born children becoming perfectionists as they strive to please their parents. They are also sensitive to others, as they learn how to share parents love with their younger siblings.
When parents decide to have a second born, they may be more flexible in their parenting. They may also be less attentive to their second-born since there’s another child competing for attention. This leads to less pressure for the second-born, less of a perfectionist but more of a people-pleaser due to the lack of attention he/she gets in comparison to their older sibling. Second born/Middle-children are also likely to pick an intimate circle of friends to represent their extended family. They also become negotiators, constantly being in the middle, working to keep the peace within the family system.
Last born children, the babies of the family have parents who are less cautious and more lenient. Parents have figured out how to raise older children, leading to less rules and restrictions. Giving more freedom and independence to their last born children. In order for the last born to get attention they desire from their parents, they will be creative with how they draw in attention, becoming jokesters or crowd-pleasers.
Being the only child is a unique role in a family. No competition with siblings gives only children the ability to monopolize their parent’s attention and resources, forever. It’s a privilege and a burden, as that means they expect a lot from their only children. It also means only children are around adults more, leading to them being more verbal and maturing faster.
Things of course can throw off birth order. Perhaps you don’t feel like your birth order. You’re not alone! Things like temperament, gender, physicality, specialness & age spacing can shift these birth order effects. No matter what, each sibling will take a role within their family system, it’s what gives purpose & meaning to who we are in our families.
Oldest Child/First Born: Achiever
Middle Child/Second Born: The Peacemaker
-Thrives on Friendships
Youngest Child/Last Born: Life of the party
Only Child: Lone Wolf
-Mature for their age
What’s most important beyond what studies have found around birth orders impact on personality is knowing your child. Understanding your child’s unique personality, temperament & needs. Knowing and learning how to parent the child in front of you, not the child you wish they were. Whatever their role in the family may be, help support them as individuals towards their fullest potential!