Julie Lyles Carr: Monday Musings...Birth Order Hooey....

Monday, September 15, 2008

Monday Musings...Birth Order Hooey....

  • First Born:  Natural Leader, High Achiever, Organized, On-Time, Know-It-All, Bossy, Responsible, Adult Pleaser, Obeys the Rules

  • Second Born:  Flexible, Easy-Going, Social, Peacemaker, Independent, Secretive, Life May Feel Unfair, Strong Negotiator, Generous

  • Third Born:  Risk-Taker, Outgoing, Creative, Self-Centered, Financially Irresponsible, Competitive, Bored Easily, Likes to be Pampered, Sense of Humor


Ummm.....not so much.


It's been all the talk for quite a while now, this birth order thing, how your entrance into the family designates a propensity toward certain personality traits and characteristics.  I've read some books and poured over some articles and even examined some of the research while completing my Psychology degree last century.

And then I had a passel of kids.

And I had more than three.

And I'm starting to think this is all a bunch of hooey...at least at my house.

You see, 1 of 8 has never fit the mold.  Ever.  She arrived to the beat of her own drummer and decided that she would even redo the beat on occasion.  At her first dance recital, while all the other little ballerinas went through their memorized and prescribed steps, 1 of 8 winged a whole different choreography on the other side of the stage, glorying in a dance fest all her own.  She early in life took to wearing multiple, un-matched layers of clothing.  If everyone else is going right, she'll go left.  If a couple people follow her, she'll zig-zag.  She shows appropriate respect for adults, but doesn't have a goal of pleasing them all.

1 of 8 apparently didn't get the First Born List when we left the hospital with her.

And then 2 of 8 showed up.  And she probably got the list and has it filed somewhere, but decided it should be edited to include her agenda of world domination....a very Un-Second Born thing to do.

2 of 8 doesn't have the notion that life is unfair...life is something to be managed, organized and labeled.  All the extended family took to giving 2 of 8 office supplies for gifts, and she is always delighted. One of her prized possessions is a super duper labeler that has been used on every item in her closet and drawers.  2 of 8 could design spreadsheets before she could spell the term.  Perhaps it's because 1 of 8 abdicated the Oldest Child throne to follow her one true love Whimsy, but 2 of 8 far more wears the FB crown...after all, someone has to run the Kid Kingdom.

And then there is 3 of 8.  Now, some birth order theory says that when you are second or third in line but the first of your gender in the line-up, it can render a different affect, sort of a mish-mash of First Born/Third Born characteristics, if you will.  Ummm....again....hooey.  3 of 8 is extremely financially responsible.  He doesn't believe in taking risks and will carefully examine roller coasters, seat belt clips and weed-eater safety guards before undertaking associated activities with those items.  He doesn't do Bored...after all, there are dragons to draw, books to read, forts to build and video games to beat.  And there are always sisters to pester.

Then comes the complete undoing of the theory...4, 5, 6, 7 & 8 of 8...and what do you do with that?  And who decided that the birth order thing would address first, middle and last and then hit the reset button?  And what do you do if you have twins last....is the one that's four minutes younger going to be truly treated so differently that he will be rendered substantially different in his birth order experience than his four minutes older twin?

So what is our need to explain the beauty of individuality with charts and lists?  Given the breadth of experiences and perceptions available within any family, is it necessary to catalog and create expectation on a child simply because of their position in the line-up?  Are we simply observing similarities or are we creating expectations of behaviors and then chalking it up to family order?  Can't we just let the fragile buds of our progeny come into full bloom in a supportive garden of celebration of individuality, absence of labeling, nutrients of self-discovery and revelation?

And then the disclaimer:  I am the First Born child in my family of origin.  I don't think my folks knew there was a list.  I don't think they herded me into the First Born Label.  And I....fit.... the ....profile....to a 't'.  Except bossy.  I don't do bossy.  I had it benevolently beaten out of me...but that's a different post.

So what about you?  Do you fit the profile?  Do your kids, nieces, nephews, grandkids?  Is it just our need to label and categorize something as wild and unpredictable as the human personality?  Or is it the genius observation of how our family position shapes our selves?  Feel free to post a comment or compose your own post on these questions and put your name and the url of your post in the Mr Linky's box below.  Come on, all you First Borns--don't you feel a sense of duty to complete this assignment?

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