As a self-help theory collector, I’m intrigued by the Birth Order theory. I adore Kevin Leman, but I’m too cheap to buy his book so I had to resort to googling my wrists into a carpal tunnel frenzy to find (probably inaccurate yet very entertaining) information. Here are the bits and pieces (many of them contradictory) I was able to glean.
The main categories are: Firstborn; Middle Child; Youngest Child; and Only Child (similar to first born).
Since my only sibling is an older brother, I must be the baby, right? Not so fast. A lot of the "youngest" traits didn’t fit me, and a quiz I took revealed that I was probably the third-born (middle) child. What's going on here? I don’t remember any unwanted younger sibling being put up for adoption.
Here’s where the tricky variations come in.
For instance, in my case, I’m the youngest child, but the oldest girl. In cases where there are only 2 children of different sexes, it can be like having 2 firstborn children. But I may be more like the baby, and less like the firstborn, (stay with me here) because only the firstborn has their parents undivided attention, unless of course, the youngest is born after the others are grown-which I was not. (Whew! I could win a run-on sentence competition against Indigo Montoya!)
So I started looking at the traits of the first born and the youngest, thinking I may be a combination of the two.
First born traits I have: mature, perfectionist, people-pleaser.
Youngest traits I have: creativity, intelligence, great social skills.
Sounds like a winning combination, doesn't it? Maybe being a birth order mongrel isn’t such a bad thing.
Unfortunately, I'm not enough of either to really make it work. I'm lacking that special “it” factor for which most mega successful true first-borns are famous. If I were a true "youngest", mediocrity wouldn’t bother me, as I'd be blissfully ignorant of responsibility. As it is though, I’m just a tormented hybrid painfully aware of my failed ambitions.
That's ok. As long as I know where I stand. I’m so glad I waded through those 485,000 search engine results to find this out.
But wait! I forgot to factor in parenting style. At this point I started to ask myself “why bother”, when an article on Determining your Best Antidepressant Based on Birth Order caught my eye. (Hey - you never know when this information could come in handy.)
Parenting style may explain how I - the youngest-oldest child - developed traits of the middle child. Apparently, uninvolved parenting (father not around and mother working all the time) can produce many traits similar to the middle child. Aha! Maybe I’m finally getting somewhere now.
A middle child can be either very balanced as a result of being independent by necessity - or really screwed up from lack of attention. Hmm… it looks like I’ll be needing those antidepressants after all. Thank goodness I can tell my therapist to prescribe my happy pills based on the fact that I’m a youngest-oldest-middle child.
Shouldn’t they stop calling this the Birth Order theory? I mean, “birth order” seems to imply the “order” in which you were born. Not so much. It’s kind of like the “i before e” rule we all learned at age 5, yet haven’t found a use for since, as the exceptions apply more often than the rule.
I dug a little deeper though (I really do have too much time on my hands) into the traits middle children are famous for:
Constantly trying new things (hey- that IS me!)
Repeatedly starting new projects but never fin-
Selma Blogbeck, aka Virginia Jacobson, copywrite 2010