‘Birth Order’ Dictates Your Child’s Personality and Career
Every personality trait we have can be traced back to our childhood. The way we were brought up, the environment we grew up in and how people treated us back then. The most important aspects of childhood are home and parents. Though we as parents give equal amount of attention and love to all our children, subconsciously, we tend to treat our children a little differently depending on the order with which they came into this world.
Birth order signifies the order in which the children are born. The first born, second born and the third born may show different personality traits as they grow up in the same house. Even though there are a number of factors that decide what a child grows up to be, the birth order may very well be the root cause of these factors playing out in a child’s life in the long run.
Why Birth Order Matters-
Consider a home with one child. Both parents give undivided attention to the child and pamper him or her as much as possible. In a larger family, the last born may be the most pampered one. If the elder children develop a nurturing instinct at an early age, the last born may be taken care of by them as well as the parents. This may make the last born the most dependent one.
On the other hand, a completely different scenario may play out where the last one may not get as much attention as the other children. In most families, the last born feels unwanted and not pampered enough. In the animal world, the last born may prove to the weakest of all children since the elder ones are physically stronger and are able to get more nutrition from their mother. In cases like these, the last born may turn out to be rebellious and jealous of the elder kids.
Something similar happens to firstborns, where they are either loved and cared for very much by virtue of being born first or might be handled strictly as a way of example to their younger siblings. In both cases the child grows up with a set of traits and behaviors that determine their personality and how it plays out later.
The behavior of parents with each child
Parenting doesn’t come naturally to anyone. As there is no exact definition of a perfect parent, most of us learn parenting on the job. We may learn by looking at others, follow the steps of our parents or go in a different direction in case we were not happy with their parenting methods, but actually get to try it for the first time on the child.
Consider a scenario where a family of loving, affectionate parents have three children all of the same gender. The first born was pampered as a child and always got what he/she wanted. The first born didn’t have to share any belongings with anyone when he/she was young and got to enjoy all the resources in a loving home.
With the second child, the parents gave the same amount of attention to the second-born but at the same time they were subconsciously aware that the first born will be able to take care of the younger one. The parents didn’t have to spend time in teaching the basic habits to their second-born as he/she learnt most of them from the first-born.
In case of the third child or the last born, the parents had the help of two older children in raising the third one. Without realizing it, they may not give the same amount of attention to the last born. The last born has to share most of the resources at home with the older kids. The parents do not realize this, but the amount of attention given by them to each child always differs.
The Achiever, The Peacemaker, and The Life of The Party
How a child is brought up dictates a lot about his/her future. Personality traits such as agreeableness, openness, conscientiousness, extraversion and neuroticism define a person. Frank J Sulloway, an American psychologist, in his 1996 book, ‘Born to Rebel’ definitively used these five personality traits to distinguish among siblings. Though his studies were later disproved, one can chalk up the behavior of children to the treatment they received at home.
In case of the first born, the sibling can be dominant, more conscientious and less open to new ideas and experiences as they get used to getting everything their way at home.
But an exception to this is the first born who isn’t pampered as much as his/her younger siblings.
In most cases, the first born grows up to be more successful and better settled in life as compared to the last born as he/she gets used to being independent at a young age. This can even be proved by the fact that the eldest child is usually the first to leave home and face the outside world; making him/her more experienced and better equipped to tackle real-world problems. The first born tends to be more organized as he/she has to manage the role of a surrogate parent at a young age.
However, this may not be true in all cases as an individual’s latter behavior depends on a number of factors such as discipline, risk taking and openness to failures. In some cases, the firstborns may succumb to the pressure of living up to their parents’ expectations and fail miserably.
The middle child is usually stuck solving conflicts between the fist born and the last born. It is highly probable that the middle child ends up being the least pampered of the lot. Either the first born gets more attention or the last born. This shift of attention of the parents results in a number of conflicts between the first and the last born.
In cases where the age gap may not be much between the three children, the middle child may be able to adapt with both the siblings but the first born and the last born may not get along. In these cases the responsibility of maintaining peace falls to the middle child.
Even though many are puzzled when it comes to defining the characteristics of the middle child as they pick on the personality traits of the first born and the last born, they are usually termed as conflict resolvers.
Life of the Party
The last born or the youngest sibling may consider himself or herself as the most pampered child or the most neglected one depending on the treatment of the parents. In both cases, the last born tends to spend time at social gatherings away from home. The youngest siblings grow up not only with older siblings but also other friends or social acquaintances. This makes the last born more comfortable around strangers as he/she grows up.
In families where the last born feel they are not given as much attention as the elder siblings, they tend to act out by spending more time outside home. They excel in conversations with strangers and have a bigger network.
As most of them are rebellious in nature, the youngest siblings tend to travel more, enjoy new experiences and are less open to settling down.
Even though the above categorization puts the first born as an achiever and the last born as the charmer, there have been a exceptions where the middle born ended up being more successful and popular.
Famous Middle Children
Warren Buffet, Abraham Lincoln, Anne Hathaway, Jennifer Lopez, Bill Gates, David Letterman are some famous middle-children who were most successful in their family.
Even though the last name in the above example did end up as the peacemaker in certain shows, these famous people prove that birth order is just one factor in deciding what a child grows up to become. Donald Trump is also a middle child and his elder brother isn’t as successful in life.
Birth orders decide the Partners we Choose
In a country like India, most people don’t have the luxury of choosing their life partners. Some lucky ones do get to decide who they want to spend their rest of lives with. Even though we do not consciously consider the birth order while choosing a partner, we do look for certain personality traits that go well our own.
The first born is usually dominating in nature and tends to look for partners who will adapt well with his/her traits. In a couple, usually one person takes charge in most scenarios and is more organized in handling daily matters. It is mostly the first born who takes this role. Finding two first born’s together is a very rare occurrence as both spouses will constantly fight to achieve dominance in the family. An example of two first born’s married to each other are Bill and Hilary Clinton; and their marital problems are well known.
Since most middle children grow up resolving conflicts between two siblings and tend to adapt with everyone, they turn out to be the best partners in case of relationships. Most middle children may not have any problem in a marriage as they can take the role of the dominating spouse or simply adjust to the methods of the other person.
The youngest child in the family also happens to be the most pampered one. In most cases, the last born will not take charge of difficult situations and needs attention from his/her partner. This may not be true in all cases but the last born will usually work with someone who can take responsibility, and is willing to work around the home while he/she can enjoy. Though they usually marry people from all three categories, they are mostly happy with last born’s as both partners tend to have similar traits. If both spouses happen to be the last born’s in their respective families, they may face problems when one has to be responsible at home.
Birth Order and Jobs
We pick our career depending on our passion. Though some of us aren’t lucky enough and have to pursue a job decided by our parents, most people choose jobs that go well with their personality traits.
If we revisit the personality traits exhibited by the eldest child in a family, we come across characteristics like dominating, organized, nurturing, competitive etc. Since most older children aren’t open to new experiences, very few of them take up jobs that require travel on a regular basis. Some of the popular fields elder children have been seen in are engineering, science, government jobs, management, administration etc. Since most government jobs have conventional methods in place and have opportunities of holding power, most first borns pick these kinds of jobs.
Some famous examples are Oprah Winfrey and Winston Churchill.
Their care-taking and conflict resolving nature makes them perfect for jobs that require the least amount of competitiveness. Though they grow up learning how to adapt with different people and scenarios and hold traits of their elder and younger siblings, middle children can actually work comfortably in most fields. The following jobs were found to be opted by most middle children; Education, nursing, public relations, police and/or other defense services.
Some famous examples include Martin Luther King and Barbara Walters.
Outgoing, extroverts and party animals, the last born’s pick jobs where they can travel, interact with different people and do whatever they want. In most cases, they aren’t organized but are highly creative. Some of the jobs youngest siblings enjoy are sales and marketing, design, art, music, writing etc. Due to their rebellious nature, most last born’s find it hard to stick to one job.
Famous examples include Mark Twain
Birth order matters in life and affects several traits in people. Though it is a key factor in shaping a child’s future, one cannot discount other personality traits.
The purpose of this article was to assist parents in identifying behavioral problems in children and provide a possible explanation on why children behave the way they sometimes do. As parents, all of us handle parenting in our own unique ways, but we cannot discount the personality of the child and how it could be shaped based on the order in which the child was born.