Family Dynamics and Birth Order

All families are going to have varying dynamics. We often start with the basic nuclear family, which is a mother and father, and whatever biological children they have had together. This family unit describes what we see as the “traditional” family.  Over time, we’ve seen more varieties in our families. These deviances include having same-sex parents, divorced/remarried parents, step-siblings, half-siblings, adopted siblings, etc. Additionally, some households have extended family members, like a grand parent or cousin, living with them. Of course, no matter how a family is formed or how parents choose to raise their kids, children will tend to develop different personalities and behaviors based on their birth order. Let’s look at a basic family with three children.   Here’s a simple breakdown of a child’s personality based on their birth order:

Firstborns are natural leaders. They’re usually aggressive and reliable, perfectionists who don’t like surprises. They serve as model children, seeking approval from authority figures.

Only children share many of the same personality traits as firstborns, but tend to be even bigger perfectionists. They usually spend more time with adults and are socially awkward with kids their own age.

Middle children are pretty much determined to be the opposite of their older sibling and often are more involved with friends and peer groups because they feel they receive less attention than their older and younger siblings. They are independent peacemakers who see all sides of a situation. (As a middle child myself, I encourage you to check out this book:

Last borns are usually the most outgoing and social, but tend to be irresponsible with money. Although they may be charming, they have the potential to be manipulative and spoiled.

And with all situations, there are exceptions to these roles. For example, if the middle child is born ten years after the first, they may display characteristics of a first born. Also, sibling deaths, twins, adoptions and step-siblings can interfere with birth-order characteristics.


About Sarah Cordonier

I am a junior Television Journalism and International Studies Major at West Virginia University. I am currently taking Beginning Television Reporting and I plan on taking Advanced Television Reporting in the Spring, as a member of WVU News. Someday I would like to work abroad, as an overseas reporter.
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