Thursday, June 05, 2008

Gettin' Naughty - Pigeonholed?

During my research I got interested in birth order and personality. According to pop psychology, where you rank by age among your siblings has a profound effect on psychological development, and is a good indicator of personality. Does this sound reasonable or like a bunch of psychobabble to you? Read on to see what I discovered in my research. Although the defining qualities vary from one resource to another the general consensus is that oldest = leader, middle = adaptable, youngest = unreliable, only = self-centered.

The Oldest Child
Throughout history, most of the men elected as President in the U.S. have been the oldest child. These children tend to have serious, take charge personalities. They are planners who are not likely to miss important dates or occasions. First born people tend to lack spontaneity and dislike surprises. They were an only child for a while and often feel the need to show superiority over siblings. It’s suggested an oldest and youngest child match works well not just because opposites attract, but because some of their stronger traits can rub off on their partner.

The Middle Child
The adaptable compromiser and negotiator. Definitely not spoiled, the middle child tends to feel they didn’t get as much attention growing up. May feel life is unfair and that they’ve been left out. Stuck between the alpha older child and the manipulations of the baby, the middle child will either try and put others at ease or act out. Not the best communicators, they tend to keep their emotions close to the vest. Since the exacting nature of the oldest and only children tend to intimidate them, the middle child is said to do best with a youngest child.

The Youngest Child
Many famous comedians are youngest children. They tend to be the most outgoing and live to have fun. Opposite of the first born, they thrive on flying by the seat of their pants on the spur of the moment without any true plan. Expects others to make decisions and take care of the details. The youngest tend to not be great with finances or being on time. They may also be a bit spoiled and accustomed to getting their way, and they know how to use their charm to make sure they do. An oldest child is purported to be a good partner for counterbalance, or a middle child who understands their need to be at the center of the action.

Only Child
These are oldest children to the extreme. A serious perfectionist who matured quickly and tends to feel they should always be the center of attention. They take their time analyzing a situation until it’s too late to take action leaving someone else to make the first move. Again, for balance, their best pairing is said to be with a youngest child.

Now that you’ve read what the mucky-mucks believe here’s a bit of reality from my own life. If you look at my family this analysis is totally wacked (either that or my family is).
I am the youngest child and I am the least outgoing and spontaneous. To this day I struggle against my extreme shyness. I fit better into the oldest child description since I tend to be the one who gets everyone organized and plans things out. I am also the most likely to show up on time and makes sure the others are okay.
The middle child in my family got the most attention by acting the outcast. He is certainly not willing to negotiate or compromise on anything. He fits better with the youngest child description. He is the least reliable out of the three of us. My oldest brother fits more in the middle child from above. He is the one who is tight-lipped. He may be a supervisor at work, but he is far from alpha in his personal life. He tends to be the one trying to keep the peace and quietly following along the rest of the time.

My children don’t fit into this mold either. My oldest can be a leader and planner at times, but she’s also the least dependable. My youngest is all alpha, although that may be because he grew up in an all female house and felt he had to be “the man in charge”.

In my opinion, personalities can’t be predicted by an astrological sign, birth order, race, religion, sex or any other single factor. We are a product of many different influences and are complex individuals who are not easy to figure out. That’s what makes us all unique and fascinating, and keeps life from being boring.
What do you think? Does your family fit into the mold or are they much more dynamic?

1 comment:

Sally Painter said...

I agree that these things never hold for me. Wonder if they do for anyone?