Which description is most like you?
1: A natural leader and perfectionist, you are logical, technical, well-organized, conscientious, a good reader, and a list-maker. You take life seriously and don’t like surprises.
2: Self-motivated, a voracious reader, and high achiever, you think in black and white and use always and never a lot. You complete every project thoroughly, expect a lot out of yourself and can’t stand the idea of failure.
3: Independent, sometimes secretive, and a diplomatic mediator, you go out of your way to avoid conflicts and often compromise to keep the waters of life smooth. At home, you never got much attention, so you developed a loyal friendship network.
4: Affectionate, charismatic, and a people person, you enjoy the limelight and surprises. You engage easily with strangers. Growing up, you were “cute” so you got away with everything.
If you picked 1, you’re either the first child born in your family or the first child of your gender born in your family.
If you picked 2, you’re an only child.
If you picked 3, you’re a middle child.
If you picked 4, you’re the baby of the family.
How can I be so confident? After studying birth order for years, I’ve seen these descriptions play out over and over. Birth order isn’t an exact science, because not all characteristics fit every person in that birth order. Variables such as the number of years between kids, gender, physical, emotional, or mental differences, adoption, death, blended families and a critical-eyed parent can change that birth order (for more, see "The Birth Order Book").
Why should you care about birth order? Because the role you played in your family has everything to do with how you perceive “reality.” It’s why a brother and sister can view the same growing-up years differently. And that perceived reality affects how you feel about yourself and relate to others.
If you’re a firstborn.
You had an incredible advantage and disadvantage no other child in your family had – your parent(s) all to yourself for a while. You were the guinea pig for their parental experiments. Everything you did right or wrong was heightened. When you reached for a forbidden item, you were told, “Don’t touch that!” in an excited tone. By the time your second brother was born, your parents barely noticed he had his finger in the electrical outlet.
You walked and talked earlier than your siblings, had a large vocabulary, and acted like an adult because you always interacted with adults. Your parents made a big deal out of everything you did, so you became a perfectionist with only one “right way” to do things. Anything else is “wrong.” That’s why it drives you crazy when others – partners, kids, or coworkers – don’t do tasks the same way you’d do them, don’t pursue goals with the same excellence you do, or don’t take life as seriously. That’s why you assume leadership of a project or take it on as a solo act. You expect a lot out of yourself and others because you’ve been groomed to be highly achievement oriented.
If you’re an only child.
You have firstborn traits times three. You act mature beyond your years – you were a little adult by age 7 or 8. Books were not only your best friends growing up but also siblings and companions. You’re used to working independently, so that’s most comfortable for you. After all, no one can jump the high bar of your expectations. Problem is, you’re even tougher on yourself than you are on others.
If you’re a middleborn.
Since you’re not the superhuman, driven-to-excellence firstborn and you’re not the cute baby of the family, you grew up in the hazy, anonymous “middle” where you weren’t often noticed. In fact, you were the one least likely to be missed if you went AWOL at the dinner table. You could get away with being lazy sometimes because your parents didn’t expect you to accomplish as much as your firstborn sibling. In fact, whatever he or she was like, you went the opposite way. After all, why try to compete with the best?
Because you were stuck between the hard-driving firstborn and the baby, who couldn’t seem to get anything done without help, you frequently played “peacemaker” at home. You carried that role into your loyal friend network too. But wanting everyone to get along so the waters of life stay smooth opens the door for others to easily take advantage of you.
If you’re a lastborn.
Life to you is a thrill ride from one adventure to another. You’re highly social, spontaneous, thrive on being entertainment central, and easily make people laugh. People swarm to you like ants to honey. Growing up, you were the manipulative charmer who could get your siblings or parents to do anything for you – even things you should have been doing for yourself. Your siblings often sent you as the sacrificial lamb to ask a favor of mom or dad, since you were the one least likely to be punished for asking.
When others don’t smooth your path in life and do things for you now, you are easily irritated and hurt. When you aren’t in the limelight, you don’t feel appreciated.
When you understand your branch of the family tree, you’ll know why you are the way you are – your personality, how you problem-solve, and how you relate to friends, coworkers, and loved ones.