Birth Order

Birth order aims to create self-awareness and gain a deeper understanding of how we do relationships.

Have you ever come across birth order? Whether this is your first time learning about birth order or whether it’s a refresher, we will go over what each one looks like in a nutshell. The characteristics that I’ll unpack are based on the writings and the research of many, including Walter Toman. The intent is not to box or limit us in any way but instead create a space to understand how we do relationships and how our family of origin might contribute to this. In the book, Family Ties That Bind Dr Ronald Richardson quotes “added to all the other ingredients that go into the pot about personality formation are our birth order. The way we think about ourselves and how we react to and treat others outside the family starts with how our family members relate to us as males or females and as first, last, or middle born”.

The oldest child may have certain characteristics in common such as being achievement-oriented, having leadership qualities, responsible, reliable, cautious, controlling, motivated, conscientious and also be a perfectionist. Oldest children are only children at first and can feel a sense of threat when the new baby is added to the mix, especially if the gender of the new baby is the same as them.

The middle child includes the second child of three or one of several in between children. There can be a considerable variety of middle positions with variations in the ages and sexes and the numbers of other siblings. In general, the middle child will tend to have more of the characteristics of the birth position that he or she is closest to. The middle child can feel left out, gear towards people-pleasing, can be rebellious, social, adaptable, independent and take on the role of the peacemaker.

The youngest child, like the only child, may more than likely get a lot of attention as there may be a sense of responsibility by the family to care for the youngest. Last borns can be social, outgoing, manipulative, self-centred, fun, and at times self-centred. The youngest child usually has an adventurous approach to life and are open to trying new things.

The only child is one who has no siblings. This also includes if there is a five- or six-year gap between other siblings which the child will also take on some of the characteristics according to those mentioned earlier. The only child can seem mature for their age, be the centre of attention, demonstrating leadership and seeking approval. They are sensitive, confident, uncomplicated, perfectionistic and responsible. The only child may feel most comfortable when alone.

On a finishing note, what has stood out to you while going through each of these? Do you see how your birth order may have an impact on your relationships? If you find this topic interesting and would like to gain further understanding, you might want to look at Ronald and Lois Richardson’s work who elaborate more on birth order. Until next time take care.