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Does birth order matter?

(43 Posts)
absent Sat 09-May-15 00:29:13

There have been numerous theories about how birth order affects personality but few, if any authoritative conclusions. Are first born children more intelligent and conscientious than their siblings? Are youngest children more argumentative and self-centred? Are middle children more rebellious and less co-operative? There is even a theory that the more older brothers a boy has, the more likely he is to be homosexual. hmm

janeainsworth Sat 09-May-15 03:51:54

Not heard that last one Absent.

It's a pity we cant post pictures directly onto threads. Recently there was a Facebook post, a picture of 3 T-shirts suitable for 3 siblings.

The first one said I'm the oldest, I make the rules
The second said I'm the middle one, I'm the reason the rules were invented
The third said I'm the youngest, the rules don't apply to me

Yes, yes and yes grin

absent Sat 09-May-15 06:04:58


MariClaire Sat 09-May-15 06:32:38

As a middle child, I couldn't agree more janeainsworth! grin

NfkDumpling Sat 09-May-15 06:49:27

Love that JaneA. May get that printed out on tee shirts for my three for C*******s!

DD1 is certainly bossiest. DD2 is the peacemaker (she claims to be the unloved middle one) and DS was very protected by his sisters - until he married. So perhaps there is something in it.

I'm an only one, so am perfect. wink

Nelliemoser Sat 09-May-15 06:56:06

Yes I think it must if only by the way the parents manage the children.

Children in a family often have very different personalities but some of that is probably down to genes.
I am a second girl of two and about 4 yrs younger than my sister. We are very different in personality but again I think that is a lot to do with genetic personality traits .My sister is like our mum anxious type and I am much more like !y Dad.
All very interesting, I wonder if anyone has done some recent research

Falconbird Sat 09-May-15 07:00:38

I did some reading up on this some years ago.

My birth order according to the books I read is the worst one - an only female child who replaced a female child who passed away sad

My eldest son is definitely the one I would depend on in times of stress and my youngest son definitely thinks the rules don't apply to him. The middle one seems quite at ease with his position in the family.

Only children have a reputation for being self reliant and perhaps a bit selfish. That isn't true in my opinion but then I'm an only child and definitely know best. smile

Leticia Sat 09-May-15 07:09:11

I liked being the eldest- I was certainly the bossy one!

MariClaire Sat 09-May-15 07:20:09

My eldest sister wasn't bossy so much as perfect in every respect. envy As third of five daughters and one son (he was the prince), I was the peacemaker and also the most outspoken. It was the only way to get any attention!

absent Sat 09-May-15 07:44:12

What do you see happening with your grandchildren? I now have six in the same family, so should become an expert on this subject over the years ahead. hmm

My elder sister (I am one of two) was always the beautiful and clever one – or, at least, that is how I thought my parents, especially my mother perceived her. I was the plain child – and I certainly was a plain child – and the clown. I still feel a shadow of this now although we have equal academic qualifications and there are many aspects of my life that seem to me better and brighter than hers.

absent Sat 09-May-15 07:45:10

Of course, you probably know the famous comment about Osama bin Laden: typical middle child, eleventh of 23.

gillybob Sat 09-May-15 08:48:49

Great thread absent . Definitely true of my three DGC Janeainsworth smile

Greenfinch Sat 09-May-15 08:50:21

I have heard that it is more to do with birth experience than order. A first child has to fight more to be born and this is what gives them their unique personality traits. Subsequent children often have an easier birth experience which makes them more laid back and the most laid back of all are children born by Caesarean who don't have to fight at all to be born. All these theories can be disproved by individual examples but they are interesting nevertheless.

pompa Sat 09-May-15 09:06:41

Yes birth order is very important to me, I let my wife go first grin
Having made my usual flippant comment, I will leave it to the experts to debate - and lurk with interest as our two children could not be more different.

Iam64 Sat 09-May-15 09:07:10

My mum was the oldest of 3 daughters, so am I and I have 3 daughters. I love the birth order personality lists by janeainswoth. My middle daughter posted it on her fb page a while ago and it certainly applies to mum, her own daughters and my 3.

absent - there was a tv programme last year about research into the prevalence of gay men who are the youngest in groups of brothers, particularly twins. The theory linked falling testosterone levels. I don't know about research challenging this but we do have family members where the youngest twin (3 brothers or more in the families) is gay. Interesting isn't it

annodomini Sat 09-May-15 09:12:54

As the eldest of three sisters, I don't think I am the bossiest. The youngest has always been the most assertive, perhaps because she had to be. However, I am always right. grin

pompa Sat 09-May-15 09:23:29

Having carefully read the post I realise that a man's observations are just as relevant.
We have two children separated by 5 years. The eldest, our DD is worrier, even to the stage of tending towards being bi-polar, she has a very stressful job that pushes her too far quite often, but without that stress she is bored. We have always thought she just took after me, as that is exactly how I am. Our son is the opposite, whilst he also has a stressful job as a company director, he is so laid back and rarely shows sign of any stress, exactly like Mrs. P. We had always thought theses were traits inherited from us, but it could well be the birth order. Our DD children are also very different in a way that the birth order may have affected, ie her second child is the laid back content one.

lefthanded Sat 09-May-15 09:39:25

I'm the youngest of four brothers, with a total of 9 years between us. I don't recognise any of these traits, I'm afraid. When I was growing up in the fifties, my oldest brother was my male role model as my father was frequently working away.

Soutra Sat 09-May-15 09:43:47

I would so very much like to have those T shirts for DGCs and my 3daughters, and agree with JaneA and others, "yes, yes and yes " from me too.
The only bit I can't go along with is the "struggle to be born" as all 3 DDs were born by elective section. However I do think eldests have more boundaries to push, struggles for independence to attempt (and win) and both benefit and suffer from 100% attention from their parents.

Marmight Sat 09-May-15 10:09:28

Yes, yes and yes.
I have 3 daughters.
The eldest H is/was bossy to the other 2. She is also very self sufficient and distant, but has mellowed with marriage and motherhood.
The middle one G was very needy as a child 'it's not fair, H gets everything first and I is spoilt'. As an adult and mother, she is delightful and caring. She was the typical Middle Child.
Youngest I was always happy, but an alternative personality. She is a loving & caring individual and still happy even when coping with a difficult ongoing family problem.
I am proud of them all and love them dearly but I would like to turn the clock back and be able to deal with their 'hierarchical' problems differently.

ninathenana Sat 09-May-15 10:12:18

I had an older brother who wasn't bossy because after we were about 6and 10 respectively he never spoke to me ! I wasn't worthy of his attention.
He did better than me academically and career wise. But in mine and sad to say our mum's opinion, isn't a very nice person sad
I had two children, DD the oldest and DS. DD is very confident and out going but growing up she wasn't one of 'the popular girls' DS is totally different, and is waiting for an assessment for what could be personality disorder or AS.
DD two boys both have AS traits the oldest likes to boss his brother.

Falconbird Sat 09-May-15 10:48:59

Interesting point about Cesarean babies not having to fight to be born. My grandson was born by Cesarean and he very relaxed and easy going.

His sister is a bundle of energy and never seems to rest and her birth was a real struggle.

Marmight Sat 09-May-15 10:53:25

I was a Caesar baby - and an only child......... sad

fluttERBY123 Sat 09-May-15 10:57:14

I read somewhere that what we are is "nature exacerbated by circumstance". I take that to mean that we are born a certain way and our circumstances work on that for good or ill.

nannieroz111 Sat 09-May-15 11:15:57

I was a Caesar baby, my only child was a Caesar baby and one of his children was a Caesar too. I wouldn't say any one of us could be considered relaxed and laid back.

I watched a very interesting TV programme some years back about nurture or nature? They did some interesting comparisons, but still couldn't confirm whether it was genes or nurturing that made us what we are.