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Birth Order

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Birth Order

It is a commonly known fact that not all children are the same, not even close. But at the same time, children follow distinct patterns based on where they are in their family's birth order. The only child, the first child, the middle, and the last all have distinct traits that can fit into each family. Not every child fits into every single characteristic, but virtually everyone can relate in some way or another. Many psychologists have argued that birth order is nothing but a myth, at the same time many others have found that it has strong ties to childhood development and even life as an adult. Birth order affects the way children behave with siblings and parents. Younger children have to learn that the older is bigger and stronger. The older child has to learn responsibility, leadership, and caring. The middle child has to do both (Harris, Effects). Birth order has a strong effect on what kind of characteristics children will develop as they grow into adulthood.

I come from a family of five children and it is amazing how each and every one of us has a different trait. I am the oldest of the five and am very accustomed to the idea of being the first. I was the first one to drive, the first one to graduate, the first to get a job, and the first to move out. From this I feel that I have more responsibilities than my other sisters. I have to show them the right way and be an example of good behavior. When I do not give the best examples, they too become a model of what not to do. The second child of the family has proven to break away from my mold and has almost become my opposite. She has poor motivation and has a hard time listening to orders. She is easily frustrated with other members of the family and is extremely short tempered with all of us. Although, around her friends she can be one of the sweetest people you will ever meet. She has felt that she does not have the attention of the parents. The middle child of the family has proven to be the most spoiled. She has found a way to get virtually everything she wants; she is the negotiator. The middle child is very outgoing and does not feel pressured when she is around new people. She makes it a point not to know a single stranger. There is absolutely no research on the fourth child, but in my family the fourth child is the sweetest girl in the world. She does not know how to be mean and would do anything for anyone else. She has a strong sense of right and wrong and knows when she crosses the line. She has watched everyone else get in trouble and knows how to stay low key in order to keep herself in the clear. As for the last child, she is "the baby" and always will be. She gets whatever she wants, when she wants it. The youngest makes it a point to be the center of attention; she does not like it when others steal her spotlight.

I find birth order to be a very interesting subject because I come from a family that is so large. The distinctions between all of us are amazing. In my research I have found major distinctions between everything, and even some reasons why we are all the way that we are. Although there are those who do not find birth order to be a creditable field of research, I back it completely. "People can differ depending on when they were born, their sex, the family situation at the time--all of these forces are at work" (Leman, Birth 20). Many different forces produce different outcomes for every child, which is what makes everyone different. At the same time, there are simple characteristics that are apparent in certain people depending on their place within the family birth order.

The oldest children "are often the achievers, the ones who are driven toward success and stardom in their given fields" (Leman, Birth 43). First-born children tend to be high achievers in whatever they do. Some traits customarily used to label first born children include reliable, conscientious, list maker, well organized (Leman, Birth 11), more oriented toward authority and responsibility, and tough-minded.

The first-born child is typically the success story in the family. They are the ones that are driven to succeed in high achievement fields such as science, medicine, and law (Leman, Birth 13). For example, of the first twenty-three astronauts sent into space, twenty-one were first born or the very similar only child. In fact, all seven astronauts of the original Mercury program were first-born children (Leman, Birth 12). Another trait that is often typical of the first-born child is the tendency to choose careers that involve leadership. For instance, fifty-two percent of the United State's presidents have been first born (Leman, Birth 44).

First born are "first come" and they are "first served" by eager parents who want to do this job of parenting better than anyone has done before (Leman, Birth 42). This idea helps support research that indicates first-born children walk and talk earlier than later born. They get more coaching, prodding, and encouragement than later born (Leman, Birth 40). Many times the most attention is paid to the first-born and along with getting the most attention; the first-born gets the most work (Leman, Birth 46). More is expected from first born; therefore, they often grow up faster because they are the ones setting the example for younger brothers and sisters (Leman, Birth 46). Many first born feel that since they have had to "toe the line," their siblings have it easier than they did (Leman, Birth 45). For the most part, this is true. Each time a new child is born the rules and regulations are relaxed a little more. In general too much is expected from the first-born. Parents tend to act oppositely when it comes to their first child. "One side of them is overprotective, anxious, tentative, and inconsistent. The other side can be strict in discipline, demanding, always pushing and encouraging more and better performance" (Leman, Birth 40). All things considered, first born probably turn out the most "normal."

In addition to the labels mentioned before, first-born children tend to be goal oriented, self-sacrificing, conservative, believers in authority and ritual, and self-reliant (Leman, Birth 39). First born, in general, are people who like structure and order. They have a tendency to enter professions that are rather exacting (Leman, Birth 13).

The only child is characteristically the center of attention, has trouble sharing, and prefers to be treated as an adult at an early age (Stein). An only child is a first-born child who never loses his parents. "A perfect description of the only child would include all the labels used to describe a first-born child. However, preceding each word would be the prefix super"

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