Birth order has always fascinated me. I remember studying it a little in psychology and reading “The Birth Order Book” by Kevin Leman back in the mid-1980s.
He has revised his book several times, and I recently read his latest revision. Leman, like me, is a last born, and his book is reader-friendly and as informative as it is fun to read.
Most babies of the family agree that it is definitely the best position of the group. Last-born children are typically gregarious, and we don’t take ourselves all that seriously.
In addition, we are not hard on ourselves when we make mistakes; we tend to shrug it off and laugh at ourselves.
Contrast that with a first born or an only child. I am certainly able to do so since I married an only child. First born and only children tend to be driven people, dependable and responsible, hard on themselves if they make a mistake.
Experts say the baby of the family should marry a first born or an only child because we like to be taken care of, and responsible people like to take care of things.
Although I am a capable person, for example, I have never once gotten my tires changed or rotated, oil changed, or really done much of anything with a car except drive it. I don’t “expect” my husband to do these things, but he just does.
In thinking about our four children, Leman’s theories are pretty much spot-on. I do have another point when thinking about why first-born children are so responsible.
Basically, when you have your first child, you have no clue what you are doing. You don’t really know you have no clue, but you learn that eventually. In our case, we were married just one year when we had our first son.
We were still trying to figure out marriage when suddenly we had to begin parenting. Then 13 months later we had our daughter. Our oldest (still a baby) suddenly seemed big and well, capable. I expected so much out of that little guy, and yes, I have apologized to him many times for that. He just shrugs and continues being his responsible 21-year-old self.
Our second child is definitely the peacemaker. She never liked conflict and would much rather everybody just get along.
Our third daughter also has many “middle” child traits and is definitely independent.
Then came the baby of the family. Today at 14, he has always been a funny person who seems to love life.
How we treat the youngest compared to the older ones is apparent. I remember when he was 3 years old we were shopping and he saw a remote control boat that was about $100. He loved boats and demanded we get it.
Of course I said “no” and with that he threw his little body on the ground and began pounding on the floor and screaming. At first, I was stunned. Inside I thought it was a pretty amusing scene.
I told him I was leaving and turned around and began walking away. Now it was his turn to be stunned. He jumped up and ran after me and that was the end of it. If that had been my first child, I’m sure I would have tried to reason with him, and I am certain I would have been embarrassed and not at all amused. After all, that was back in the day when we said, “I see you are feeling angry,” instead of swatting our children on the rear end.
Another interesting point was that our youngest was late learning how to tie his shoes. Not because he wasn’t capable, but because there were so many people willing to tie his shoes, he saw no benefit to learning how. That echoes of me not doing anything related to caring for our cars.
If you don’t see the point of reading about birth order, consider this. Learning about why you do things you do, from a birth order perspective, is a fascinating way to analyze yourself, your spouse and your children. Leman even has tips for couples depending on their birth order with regards for avoiding conflict.
All in all, this is a fun and engaging book worth checking out.
Adlen Robinson is author of “Home Matters: The Guide to Organizing Your Life and Home.” E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.