I vividly remember the moment a friend pointed out that perhaps the reason my husband and I were butting heads =early in our marriage, was because we were both oldest siblings. I could have fallen on the floor, that aha moment hit me so hard. I had never given so much as a second thought to birth order, but once my friend mentioned it, I realized there are actually reasons you should care about birth order. It isn't the end all be all of procreation, by any means, but it seems as though it can dictate personality traits for you, as a parent, as well for your kids.
Growing up, I remember people casually describing my sister as the "classic middle child." She marches to her own drum, and her tantrums about what clothes she wanted to wear were epic. I remember my mom devising systems to avoid or correct her behavior, including complicated sticker charts and reward systems. My sister and I were also absolutely aware that our youngest brother was the "baby," and nicknamed him "Angel Eyes." The kid could never do any wrong. To this day, I don't think he's ever been in trouble.
I don't remember ever hearing any conversations about my firstborn child status, but perhaps people just didn't want to say anything to my face. Of course, birth order doesn't explain every single personality trait, in either you or your kids. However, I think it can help you understand certain reactions you or your kids may have. At the very least, it's interesting to think about as you're raising multiple kids.
Because Birth Order Can Explain A Certain Personality
When my friend reminded me that I was an only child (luckily she was an only child, too, so I didn't feel too insulted), it instantly explained why I feel the need to control certain things, why I'm more cautious, and why I feel the need to protect my siblings and my family so much.
Because Birth Order Can Dictate Natural Reactions
I think my birth order status also explains my reactions to my child and her behavior. I am so fast to panic when she climbs up on a chair or threatens to go flying off the side of the playground structure.
Because Birth Order Can Explain Your Kids' Behaviors
Aside from explaining some of your own reactions, birth order can explain some of your kids' behaviors, too. Your oldest child might be prone to being cautious, like I always have been, and a little controlling, too. Knowing this might naturally be their personality can help you predict their behavior and adjust accordingly
Some adoption and foster agencies require that you follow birth order with any successive children you're adding to your family, because adding new children can disrupt natural birth orders and confuse family dynamics. I know many families who have bucked this suggestion, but I also know that, for our family, adding a child older than our daughter wouldn't necessarily work.
My partner and I entertained the idea of adopting a baby that was seven months older than our daughter, only to immediately realize our daughter was meant to be our oldest child.
Because Big Gaps Can Reset Birth Order
Birth order gets reset when you wait more than five years between having children. Isn't that interesting? So, if you have a few children, then wait five or more years and have another few, it's like you have two oldest children and two youngest children. Whoa.
Because Birth Order Can Heal Childhood Pain
I think knowing and understanding what birth order means for children in a family can help heal any lingering childhood pain. I hope that my sister and brother know that some of my controlling behavior are absolutely linked to my oldest child syndrome, and can extend a little grace my way as a result.
Because Birth Order Reminds You To Focus On Fairness
My brother and sister and I have a very good relationship now, and my sister and I still joke about how spoiled my little brother was growing up. however, now that I'm a parent, I want to make sure I don't go overboard coddling my "baby" or excusing the controlling behavior of my oldest. Thinking about birth order reminds you to focus on fairness and treating each child similarly.
Because Birth Order Can Help You Understand Your Partner
The minute I thought of my husband in terms of his firstborn child status, I understood a heck of a lot more about our relationship and the dynamic between the two of us. While birth order in and of itself, or our ability to understand it, isn't going to solve or predict any potential relationship problems coming our way, it's something that has helped my husband and I know when to let go and let the other exercise their birth order tendencies.