I’m preparing to begin writing the first book in a series that revolves around a family: two parents and four children. I’ve researched birth order in the past and agreed a great deal with the opinions of Dr. Kevin Leman, who wrote The Birth Order Book: Why You Are the Way You Are. I’m using the information gleaned from his book, and other sources, as I create my characters and–more importantly–their motivations.
Although I’m a firstborn, I admire the traits of the middleborn the most but get along better with lastborns. Why do you think that is?
Well, according to Dr. Leman (who’s a psychologist) people get along best with others who are opposites–personality-wise. He claims the majority of married couples he’s counseled during the past 30 years have been firstborns, onlies, or a combination of the two. (I surely fit that demographic!)
Anyway, here are a few of the things Dr. Leman has to say, followed by brief descriptions of traits that are universally accepted to belong to certain birth orders (by people who agree with the concept, of course!).
- In a family, each child is most directly affected by the next oldest child.
- Each child typically behaves opposite the next oldest child. However, if he believes he can compete successfully with the next oldest child (and “overthrow” that child), role reversal takes place.
- All children want attention from their parents and begin seeking it in infancy; if they don’t get it, they seek either power or revenge–in that order.
Firstborn traits: Goal-oriented, seek control and approval; aggressive; type-A personality; responsible; conservative; organized; serious; self-sacrificing; puts self and others under stress and pressure; perfectionist
Middleborn traits: Peacemaker; easy-going; peer-oriented rather than family-oriented; excellent people skills; adaptable; agreeable; may feel overlooked, unheard, ignored; compromising; loyal to friends; secretive; risk-taker; may be cynical or suspicious
Lastborn traits: Creative; charming; manipulative; identifies with underdog; can be too dependent upon others; risk-taker; spoiled; lazy; temperamental; clown or comedian; entertainer; fun-loving; affectionate; reads people well
Only child traits: (Very similar to firstborn): Struggles with parental expectations; perfectionist; doesn’t handle criticism well; critical of self and others; confident; doesn’t relate well to peers when a child; self-motivated; fearful and/or cautions; self-centered
So, what say you?