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The Effects Of Birth Order On Personality

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"But, Hey I don't fit your birth order mold!"
There are many variables that can cause the birth order process not to work on some, and this is perfectly normal. Take a look at the variables below and begin to understand why exacty you may not fit into your typical birth order.

  • Marital Status
  • Parenting Style
  • Critical Eye of parent
  • Parents' birth order
  • How strict the parent is

The marital status of the parent is important, as this often determines whether the child had a mother or a father or both. If parents were to get divorced, and one parent maintained sole custody then the child in question would have most traits seen in this parent, regardless of birth order. Parenting style also plays a key role, as this influences how children react in all situations. How you teach your kids shows how they will learn, and in turn shows how they interact with society. The critical eye of the parent can also affect traits in children. If a parent is too critical, a child may have low self confidence, or drive, and he/she may or may not feel good enough, this could cause a rift in the birth order process. The birth order of each parent also comes into question. If one parent was a first born, and the other was an only, then chances are their children will have the common characteristics because of the matching personalities and parenting styles of their parents. However, if one parent was a last born, and the other a twin, then the child may follow their own birth order as there are no overwhelming similarities or differences in the birth order of their parents.

  • Double birth order

This does not occur in every instance, but often when there is a female or male born first, and then the child immediately preceeding him/her is of the opposite sex, then the birth order could repeat. Everything is usually still in tact with the birth order process, however you could have two first born children.

Separate Families

  • More than a five year gap
  • Start a 'new' family

When there is more than a five year gap between two children, often a "new" is formed. Since the maturity levels of the children are so far apart, the birth order process often repeats itself. This may result in two first borns, or maybe a first born, middle born, last born, and then an only child, all depending on timing.

  • Bumped either up or down on birth order scale
  • All depends on age at the time and where other kids fall

If adoption occurs, the birth order could be slightly renovated due to the fact that there is now another child in the mix. The same goes for remarriage, and step families. These specific variables both vary by case. It is really dependent on the age at the time of the remarriage/adoption, and where the other children fall in the birth order, if there are other children.


Mental/Physical/Emotional Skills

  • One aspect slowed could throw off birth order
  • Mental retardation
  • Physical handicaps

If there is retardation in one or more of the children, this could prevent the birth order process from being applied. Often when there is a developmental or physical delay in a child, the other children, either older or younger, end up maturing faster and taking care of the child in question. Because these children help to care for the child with handicaps means their birth order is now invalid, as they may react differently to the added responsibility, and stress.


Death of Parent/Sibling

  • Bump a child either up or down
  • Have different effects when a parent dies
  • "Ghost" children

If the death of a sibling occurs, children usually take the role their sibling had in an attempt to make the deceased child still a part of their life. Therefore, often children are bumped either up or down depending on where the child who died was in the birth order process. If a parent dies then children may bump either up or down or just no longer fit into any type of mold. Everything depends on how the child reacts to the death of their parent, and how the rest of their family copes. "Ghost" children occur when a child dies and then another child is born shortly afterwards. The newly born child never knew the deceased child, however he/she did take their place in some sense both for the parents and for their brothers and or sisters. The new child could be a replacement, and take on the characteristics of the other child, as these characteristics are often pushed upon them by their family members.

Copyright 2005, Samantha Murphy