Wednesday, October 21, 2009

birth order

Your birth order has a powerful influence on the kind of person you will be, the kind of person you will marry, the type of occupation you will choose and even the kind of parent you will be and how well you get along with God. Living in a family is a unique and distinctive experience and exerts more influence than any other organization, institution or experience. A person's order of birth has a lifelong effect on who and what that person turns out to be. However, no matter what spot we occupy in the family, there are many forces that can intervene and turn things around for us. Nothing is set in stone. So many factors can change the dynamics, this is merely a guideline.
Typical characteristics of a first born are being perfectionists, reliable, conscientious, list makers, well organized, critical, serious, scholarly, goal oriented, achievers, self-sacrificing, people pleasers, conservative, supporter of law and order, believers in authority and ritual, legalistic, loyal, self-reliant. First borns usually get more ink in the write-ups of life. They are often the achievers, the ones driven toward success and stardom and you cannot ignore them. Some first born wound up as your baby sitter and siblings don't always like this, however, they could become champions, even second parents to their younger brothers and sisters. The simple truth is first born is something of a guinea pig to mom and dad trying to learn the fine art of parenting. Everything about a first born is a big deal. One thing first borns will tell you is all the attention, and being in the spotlight and responsibility add up to one thing - PRESSURE, which comes in the form of discipline and punishment. Also, since most families have more children, the first borns have to grow up fast. Some tips for first borns:
1. Take smaller bits of life. First borns are known for getting themselves involved in too many things - activities, organizations, projects and wind up with little time for themselves.
2. Work on saying no. Many are pleasers, they like the approval of others and almost always accept invitations and requests. One of the best ways to know how to say no is to know your limits - you cannot do everything.
3. As a first born your parents probably had higher expectations for you than anybody else in the family and the natural result is you have high expectations for yourself. You expect to be first, the best, perfect. Perfectionism is a great way to commit slow suicide. Lower your sights a little. Do a little less and enjoy life more.
4. First borns ask a lot of questions, wanting all the details. Don't apologize for this trait, which is a sign of a leader who can size up the situation, be able to outline what has to be done and then apply a logical, step by step process to solve the problem.
5. As a first born you are likely to be a cautious, careful person. Don't let people pressure you into jumping into things when you would prefer to take the time you need to make your decision.
6. If you are the serious type, try to develop a sense of humor - learn to laugh at your mistakes and accept the fact that you are bound to fail now and again. Mistakes are a great way to learn and improve.
7. Never apologize for being conscientious and over-organized. As a first born you need structure and your "to do" lists. The trick is to not be driven by all this. Enjoy being organized and well planned, then share your skills with others. An awful lot of people around you could use some help!
Only children tend to be critical, particularly if they grew up in surroundings that offered few playmates. Because their only contacts are essentially a mother and a father, they get plenty of adult attention, but they often have difficulty relating to their peers. This problem continues right on through life and your typical only born is known for getting along far better with people who are much older or younger. Only children struggle with perfectionism and can become critical, cold-blooded and objective, never tolerating mistakes of his own or others. They can become everybody's rescuer, agonizing over the problems of others and always wants to move in, take over and solve everything - the nurse mentality. No coincidence that nurses are often only children or first borns. Some tips for only children:
1. Be ruthless with yourself in regard to making too many commitments and expecting too much of yourself. Everyday is not a rat race with no end in sight.
2. Make sure time and space for yourself is built into your schedule.
3. You cannot control the ages of everyone you work with or deal with , but try to arrange experiences with people who are older or younger because these are personalities you are more likely to click with as they will give you more strokes and argue with you less.
4. Only children are often labeled selfish and self-centered because they never had to learn to share with brothers and sisters. Take inventory of your life; what specific things can you do to put others first, help others more and be less critical of others?
A single word to describe first borns and only children is perfectionists. It is as if they have inner forces working on them that are hard to control. They go through life telling themselves the lie "I only count when I'm perfect." To control your perfectionism, recognize your desperate need to be perfect and recognize the fallacy and futility in this kind of thinking. You are never going to be perfect so why not give yourself permission to be imperfect? Just for today, don't worry about tomorrow. Practice saying "I was wrong." Don't be so quick to put yourself down and when others criticize, don't be so quick to react. Perfectionists are sensitive. Do nice things for yourself - you are worth it. Perfectionists overwhelm themselves with the Big Picture and take on too much at once. Say no. Look at the cup as half full. Share your thoughts and feelings without fear that if you tell someone what you think that person will reject you. Don't let life blow out your candle.
Middle children grew up somewhere between the first born and the last born. They are a bit mysterious. They were born too late to get the privileges and special treatment the first born seemed to inherit by right and they were born too soon to strike the bonanza that many last borns enjoy - the relaxing of the disciplinary reins, which is sometimes translated into "getting away with murder." Whenever you deal with middle children of the family, you have to consider the "branching-off effect." This principle says the second born will be most directly influenced by the first born, the third born will be most directly influenced by the second born and so on. Each child looks above and sizes up the older sibling. This is how they develop a style of life of their own. His life-style will be determined by his perception. Any number of lifestyles can appear, but they all play off the first born. For example, if the first born is compliant, the second born son will be a handful. Second borns will probably be somewhat the opposite of the first borns. We must always look at the entire family to understand the plight of the middle child because his is the product of many pressures coming from different directions. Their characteristics are not easy to predict however one thing is certain - they have the Rodney Dangerfield attitude "I just didn't get much respect." They do not feel special growing up. The first born and the last born had their place in the family . Typically just look at family photo albums - 2,000 pictures of the first born and 13 of the middle born. It is almost as if mom and dad went on welfare and could not buy any film or the camera was broken and wasn't fixed until the baby prince or princess came along. Middle born children often feel out of place, like a fifth wheel, misunderstood, who feels upstaged by the younger or older sibling. This is why many children hang out more with their peer group than any other child in the family. Friends become very important to the middle-born child. At home the first born is special because he is first. The last born is special because he means the end of the line. But the middle child is "just plain Danny." Humans operate according to three naturals motivations:
1. To obtain reward and recognitions
2. To avoid pain and danger
3. To get even
The middle child goes outside the family to get reward and recognition and feelings of acceptance. They become the social butterfly. To avoid pain and frustration of being an outsider in the family, the middle child leaves home the quickest. He becomes a bit of a free spirit. It may be a team (they are great team players) a club, or a gang of kids who hang out together. The important thing is the child experiences the group as his, something the family cannot control in any way. Studies show middle children are the most secretive of all the birth orders and play it "closer to the vest" in relationships, possibly little or no communication in marriages. Middle children are the last to seek services of helping professions such as psychologists, counselors or ministers. Middle borns are often a bit rebellious and want to be considered "cool." Middle children don't have as many hang-ups or problems as first born or only children. A good description of middle children is balanced. Tips for middle children:
1. Middle children get better training for life so instead of feeling deprived, make the most of the tools you gained while growing up.
2. You acquired people-oriented social skills because of all the negotiating and mediating you had to do while growing up. Use these skills to see both sides and deal with life as it really is.
3. Keep in mind that if anybody is unpredictable, it is a middle child. If you are a free spirit type, fight to keep your unique qualities. Businesses look for someone with new ideas and independence.
4. Sometimes you grow up telling yourself that your family never listened to you so no one else will, but instead of apologizing for your opinions, or failing to offer them at all, share your ideas with others. You will be amazed at how many people are looking for someone who doesn't want to do all the talking.
5. If the socially skilled, lots of friends label fits you, rejoice and enjoy it, just don't spread yourself too thin. No one can maintain a limitless number of relationships and keep them meaningful.
6. Don't get sucked into playing comparison games, as there are always people who are above or below in terms of ability, interest, appearance, athletic skill. Comparisons are pointless. Just be comfortable with who you are.
7. Middle children often make excellent managers and leaders because they understand compromise, negotiation and giving something for something else. Go for it!
Youngest children in the family are typically the outgoing charmers, the personable manipulators. They are also affectionate, uncomplicated and sometimes a little absentminded. Their "space cadet" approach to life gets laughs, smiles and shakes of the head. Without doubt, they can be a little different and many a family clown or entertainer is likely to be the last born. They can also be rebellious, critical, tempermental, spoiled, impatient and impetuous. Last borns carry the curse of not being taken very seriously, first by their family and then by the world. Your typical last borns have a burning desire to make an important contribution to the world. From the time they are old enough to figure things out, they are aware of being the youngest, smallest, weakest and least equipped to cope with life. They instinctively know and understand that their knowledge and ability carry far less weight than that of their older brothers and sisters. Part of the reason for this is the parents get all taught out by the time the last born arrives - to let the last born shift for himself. It is not unusual for babies of the family to get most of their instruction from their older siblings as their parents are just too tired. Last borns are used to being put down. The older kids always laugh at the babies hence they grow up with the "I'll show them" attitude. Last borns are on a seesaw of emotions and experiences - one minute charming and endearing the next rebellious and hard to deal with. They can turn from powerhouses of energy into basket cases who feel helpless. They can feel on top of the world on Monday and at the bottom of the pile on Tuesday. Last borns are impetuous and brash as they go ahead and do it and worry about the consequences later. They vow they will get attention and leave their mark and show the world they are someone to be reckoned with. Tips for last borns:
1. Accept responsibility for yourself. Stop passing the buck as you are not a little kid anymore. Grow up!
2. Many last borns are messies. Learn to pick up after yourself. Your spouse will rise up to call you blessed and your mom will say "I never thought I would see the day..."
3. Take stock of where you are right now in your present job. You are quite likely a people person and that is where you will find the most opportunity and satisfaction. Consider sales work or managerial as long as you feel you can keep things organized and on schedule.
4. While last borns are usually people persons, ironically they struggle with self-centeredness. Offer to help others, then follow through, and quietly do it without fanfare. Helping others - sharing money, time, energy - is a great cure for self-centeredness.
5. Beware of being too independent. Work on admitting your faults. Do not blame others for your situation when you know you are the one who really caused it.
6. Always be aware of your gift to be funny, charming and persuasive. Use it correctly and you will be an asset in any situation. Beware of being a carrot seeker, always working for that pat on the head and asking "what's in it for me?"
7. If you love the limelight, be advised that other people like a little of it now and then. When talking to others, always concentrate on asking them about their plans, their feelings and what they think.
8. Before marriage, try dating first borns. You may find them the most compatible. After marriage, to any birth order, remember that your wife is not your mommy, your husband not your daddy.
Speaking of marriage, good matches for marriage among birth orders is the youngest brother of sisters with the oldest sister of brothers. The youngest sister of brothers with the oldest brother of brothers.
The best match for a last born is a first born (someone who is conscientious and a little more confident about having life together and keeping it that way.) The fun-loving nature of the last born can help loosen up the first born's typically overserious, conscientious approach to life. Possibly the best match one can find is the first born female and the last born male. First born females are often mothering types and the last born males often need mothering. Having said this, note all marriages require working together but knowing our birth order may help understand characteristics a little more to learn how to get along with our mate. So much to think about. The main thing Wayne and I always focused on while raising our three sons was to offer them the same amount of attention and find time to give them "special time", one on one with us. That being said, it is truly in the child' s perception and no matter how hard we try to do the right thing they are going to be who they are. Variety is the spice of life. How boring would it be to have all first born leaders? Who would follow? xo

(thanks to Dr. Kevin Leman whose expertise I resourced from his book The Birth Order)