There wasn’t much to read on the character development of an only child as the result of birth order (the influences of parental/household environment) in this book. There was nothing on middle children. So, I did some digging online and came up with the following.
Very interesting stuff on middle and only children, as well as the oldest and the youngest.
Hope you enjoy as much as I did!
Of course, this is all just theory. It varies from individual to individual and doesn’t necessarily ring true for everybody.
The methodology involved is vast and based on many different control factors/variables like gender, family size and situation (i.e., twins, all boys or all girls, all boys and 1 girl or all girls and 1 boy, step children, adoption, etc.), number of years between children, changes in the household over the years & the number of children that grow up in that house, family history, social status, temperament of siblings, etc.
Let’s look at a few in more detail:
• Family size. If there are 9 children in the family, the “middle child” could be any number of kids, or none of them.
• Gender. If the first-born is a boy and the second child is a girl, she might develop the character traits of a first-born.
• Number of years between children. For instance, if there are 5 children in the family, the youngest will always be the “baby”, but the “oldest” can change as gaps occur in birth. So, if 5 years or more separate the third and fourth child, the fourth born can develop the characteristics of a first-born. Even though both are – or could be – the “middle child”.
• Parental treatment. How parents treat their child in respect to his/her birth position. Parents are new to the world of parenting with their first child. By the time the second one comes along, they become a little less “new”. And so on with the third and fourth born. By the fifth or let’s say seventh child, they’re probably worn-out! No, but seriously. The seventh child is more likely to receive a more relaxed parenting style than that of a first-born. Because, his/her parents are older, and (in most cases) tired. They have more experience under their belt and generally feel more confident in their parenting abilities.
- The oldest is typically given a lot of attention and support, as well as the pressures to be responsible and set a “good example” for his/her younger sibling(s). They are like small versions of their own parents. Many grow up to be reliable, well-behaved adults as a result. Sometimes they can become overly responsible.
- The youngest is usually pampered and “babied” by their parents and their older sibling(s) . As a result, they may feel as though they are boss, expecting others to take responsibility. Many last-borns choose a completely different path than their older siblings. Doing so avoids direct competition as they have many pacemakers (depending on the number of children in the family).
- Middle children are often overlooked; or, at least it can feel that way sometimes. They aren’t the beloved first-born, and they aren’t the precious “baby”. Middle children tend to wonder “Where do I fit, who am I?”. As a result, middle children usually make and have more friends outside of family. They also tend to be more relaxed and “laid-back” than that of the oldest and youngest child, as they don’t receive the same levels of parental attention.
- Only children are very unique in terms of parental treatment. In most cases, they are always the center of attention (good or bad). Later in life, this may be difficult for them to overcome. They also tend to “grow up” more quickly than kids with siblings because, so much of their time is spent around adults. Because they never experience having to share their parents attention, nor the frictions/fights/fondness that comes with siblings, they can feel distanced from much of life, like a bit of an outsider. Lastly, they are the only children to have the privilege (and the burden) of having all their parents’ support/expectations on their shoulders.
Middle, only, first, last…what do you think?
Do these descriptions sound accurate to you, a little off base or completely insane?
I’m very interested to hear your thoughts, as I find this topic – and most psychology of the personality – fascinating! So much so, that I created a link button at the top of the blog for it. Hoping to do more posts like this in the future. 🙂