Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Birth Order

I've never given to much thought to how birth order affects people. We've all heard about the dread of being a "middle child." I admit I feel nervous about Nate's mental health sometimes just because I've heard so many negatives about being the middle child. We all know firstborns are supposedly responsible, motivated, bossy, etc. I figured there were airs of truth mixed in with all the myth and conjecture.

But within the last month, I've noticed a big way that birth order has actually played out in our family. I have a dear friend who has a boy nearly the exact same age as Lucas. They are literally days apart. The difference is: my friend's son is the firstborn of that family and little Lucas is our third child. The difference in how we treat our sons is really quite amazing when I pause to think about it. Of course we both love, spend time with, encourage, and discipline our boys. But, my friend also has an 8 month old. So, it is very rare for her to carry her big boy who is almost 3 because she is always carrying the baby. On the other end of the spectrum, I carry Lucas all the time and it seems perfectly normal to me because he is my "baby." I probably carry him much more than most almost 3 year olds because he seems so little to me. If he were an older brother, I would expect more from him. I would want him to walk so I could carry the baby or other things.

Also, my friend's son has probably never heard the phrase "Just give him what he wants so he'll stop crying, please." But I have spoken that phrase hundreds of times in order to maintain the last few drops of my sanity that were quickly slipping away. Lucas is the baby so I expect the older kiddos to cut him some slack. "Cut him some slack" means "Just give him the dang toy so he'll quit squealing because you are old enough to find something else to play with and I am too tired to get my butt off the couch."

So, we see from just these two simple examples that my child is learning that he doesn't have to exert his own strength to get anywhere, and people will give him whatever he wants if he cries loudly enough.

Wait a minute, why did I start analyzing all of this to begin with? Now I feel bad. To take my mind off of it, I'd love to hear from you about birth order and the role it has played in your own life. I, for example, am one of those highly motivated, bossy firstborns. Although I can't seem to get motivated to get Lucas potty trained, so I guess it doesn't fit all the way across the board.
Any other firstborns reading this? Can I get a shout out from the mysterious middle children (if you dare to admit your cursed fate?) Any other babies of the family who can warn me about how spoiled Lucas is going to turn out?


Rachel said...

I definitely think there is at least a little something to this birth order thing. I am first-born, as is my dad, and we share similar traits. Casey and my mom are both middle children and are sometimes two peas in a pod as far as personality goes. Casey's sister is the "baby" and the only girl, so she might have been treated differently than her two older brothers! I don't think she's spoiled, though.

Kaitlin said...

I am a middle child and I haven't really seem to be affected by that, but I am also the only girl. I think I have been more affected by being the only girl only because I am the "responsible" one or expected to do things that my brothers don't do.

Erin said...

I am curious to know how many first born end up befriending or even dating other firstborns? I am also a first born as well as my husband. My sister the middle child will tell you she was always having to live up to not being firstborn while I being the first born never paid any attention to birth order.