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Topic Birth order...*long,* but interesting Go to previous topic Go to next topic Go to higher level

By honeybunny On 08/29/02  

So. I whipped out some old notes just now for a communication course I took last semester because I'm a nerd like that (yes, I'm at home right now, not at school. And sometimes - at school or home - I re-read old notes for *fun*!! Oh dear.)

Anyways, I came across a fascinating little section titled, "The Bach Model of Birth Order." Now, up until I took this course, I remember being very skeptical about birth order stereotypes, such as Misunderstood Middle Child, Babied Youngest Child, etc. But after studying this stuff in class, I think this is actually a very sound theory - almost everyone in class, including me, had the *exact* personality characteristics that, er, Dr. Something Bach theorized. He roots his theory on the pre-existing family dynamic each child is born into, *not* in the child's biology. I guess you could say he is more on the "nurture" side of of the nature/nurture psychological debate.

SO, do you guys fit these?

1) FIRST BORN - Very quickly aware of parents' expectations to be good parents. Respond by developing a highly productive, accomplishment-driven personality. Often highly socially adept - very good at guaging what other people want from them, and responding appropriately. Does not do well with ambiguity; thrives on obvious and explicit.

2) SECOND BORN - Quickly aware of family's emotional needs. Much more free-spirited than first born; very go-with-the-flow. Tend to be family peacemakers. Very intuitive, but has trouble figuring things out *logically.*

3) THIRD BORN - Quickly aware of family's relational needs. Often seem to be uninvolved or detached from family, when in reality they are acutely (but privately) aware of each family's member's relational status with one another. Very ambivalent about life, has trouble making decisions.

4) FOURTH BORN - Primary concern is *family unity.* Tends to the "family performer" to distract from deeper problems. Very sensitive individuals as tend to internalize all family tensions. Is usually an a) extreme over-achiever, or b) disruptive and difficult to control.

...The cycle starts over at the fifth child (according to Bach).

Also interesting: the theory also says that people tend to marry and befriend those who share their birth order.

I'm an only-child, if anyone's curious. :) -Who tend to display first and second-born characteristics. And oddly enough, I tend to date only-children!! And both of my best friends are only children!

Wow I think this is my longest post to date! Haha I love talking about stuff like this!! I hope people read and respond. What do you guys think? Scarily accurate or BS City?


By shuttrrbug On 08/29/02  

bio-first born, but raised middle child [3rd oldest] in a stepfamily. and it fits.

By Lyssalicious On 08/29/02  

Biologically I'm my dad's fourth (third if we're *really* biological--but that's irrelevant) but I was raised as a first-born. I think it's pretty accurate. Especially using this model, I've seen others that weren't quite as accurate.

And by the way, I'm a dork too. Sometimes I re-read my notes as well.

By jo On 08/29/02  

Hmm, that's interesting.
What did he say about twins? I have a twin sister (just fraternal, we're not identical)
I seem to have traits mostly from 2nd and 3rd, and a bit of 1st.
I was the first born of the two of us.
I think there's some merit in it, but I think other family dynamics are at play too. I grew up with an alcoholic mother, and I know that influenced some of the traits that I have, and I think I would still have them no matter what child I was born.

By honeybunny On 08/29/02  

I agree with you Jo, I definitely think a lot of other family dynamics besides birth order can affect one's self-identity/personality. And, multi-culturally speaking, this model only seems to address Western, nuclear families, so that's something to think about too.
I don't think there was anything on twins! -Which, I think, is a *fasinating* area of research all by itself. Especially the whole twin ESP thing (sorry to stereotype). I wish we had studied that too.

By ladyjane On 08/29/02  

I'm a second-born, but a baby of my family, and actually am very much like a 4th born.

By danielepea On 08/29/02  

Eh... I have some the traits from each of those descriptions. I was raised an only child in my little nuclear family. However, my dad has 7 kids from his first marriage that are all much older than me. In that context I've been the baby, but also very close in age to some of my syb's kids. When did this Dr. Bach come up with his theory? It seems to me that he did not take into account the fact that there are a lot of alternatives to the traditional family unit out there.

By Astoria On 08/29/02  

Interesting but what about secend born/baby born 9 years after first born raised (for most part) as an only child? It seems like only childeren would behave diffently than those with siblings, and also large gaps I am sure have effects too. I agree with what someone said about this relating more to tratitional nucular family and I wonder how many of those really exhist.

By Elf_Chick On 08/29/02  

i'm a very obvious first-born. i've seen a more in depth version of this before and it was like they'd written it based on me.

my brother is the second (and last) child and he has elements of #2 and #3.


By UnsafeBuilding On 08/29/02  

I have qualities of first and second, and i kind of am both...
I'm the first of my parents together, but my mom had my sister before she met my dad.

So i'm half-n-half...Fun.

By siwrl On 08/29/02  

I'm a first-born and the description fits me perfectly, too. But I mainly have dated second-borns...maybe their free-spiritedness balanced out my crazy productive instincts somehow. It also explains why none of them worked out as lifelong mates. ;)


By MsPriss On 08/29/02  

I'm a first-born who tends to date third-borns (or last-borns). There's a book (I think it's "The Birth Order Book") by Dr. Kevin Leman that goes into much more depth, and explains which partnerships work the best. He also takes gender into account, which makes sense to me. I'm the firstborn, but I'm also the only girl, which has an effect on things also.

The profile above actually fits quite well. I was the one they set all the rules for and experimented on, so I'm much more conscious of rules and punishments and people's expectations than my brothers are. By the time my baby bro came along, my parents knew pretty well what worked and what didn't, so he had it much easier!

By p-girl On 08/29/02  

I'm a middle child. I can relate to the descriptions of 2nd, 3rd and 4th children, and I see some of the 1st born traits in my older brother, for sure.

But I agree with MsPriss that gender can be just as important. As an only girl, I never got the blame for anything, or punished as badly, and I also never got as many bonding-with-dad opportunities as my brothers. Who do you think taught me to knit and cross stitch? Yep, good ol' mum!

As for friends, I think they're a mixture... I know my one major relationship was with a middle child... and I can think of several other middle children who I'm close to...

By oldskoolgeek On 08/29/02  

I am the first born and fit it pretty much, although I'm quite shy and not good in the social areas. In work I don't like it when my boss says, "send out a memo about thursday's meeting to everyone appropriate" but if she says "send out a memo about the parking situation we talked about in the meeting to so and so" then I can do it. It's not that I liked being told step-by-step what to do, but I hate people being vague and then getting pissy when I can't read their mind.

My brother, second born does not fit the model too well. He is very rebellious and not a peacemaker at all. Not very intuitive either, he is famous for getting taken advantage of by any scam artist in a 50 mile radius and he is totally insensitive to others feelings.

What I read though was that people who are first borns should not marry other first borns because they will clash on too many issues and that the idea relationship is first born with last born -- which makes about no sense to me, what would I(the child who got away with nothing) have in common with the child who got away with everything? My husband and I are both first borns.

By rhinokey On 08/29/02  

Totally true for me and my younger brother.
I tend to relate better to oldest children, and most of my closest friends join me in this group.

My best friend is a first child, but she has kind of a messy relationship with her parents, who think that her younger sister (who's more of a first child type, but without the urge to take responsibilty that I normally associate with first borns) can do no wrong. She's definitely more of a second born type in most ways, but takes on the responsible role. I wonder if this is why they don't get along well? Interesting....

Liz x

By subtle On 08/29/02  

I didn't find any of this to be true, for my family or our relationships. Although, the general concept that each child is born into a "different" family, dynamics wise, does make a lot of sense.

By bonnell99 On 08/29/02  

I remember learning about birth order traits in some random college course, and being shocked at how well my older brother and I fit in.

My brother, first born, cannot really grasp concepts that aren't black or white. Either you agree with him, or you don't, you're nice or you're evil. But despite this, he's extremely good in social situations and so damn ambitious.

I'm the second born, and last kid, and I'm partly second born, partly fourth. Not so much third, which is interesting. I'm an extreme overachiever, but I'm also really lazy and laid back and free spirited, I'm the peacemaker to a certain extent.



By honeybunny On 08/29/02  

I just realized something...both of my parents are third-borns! But, while my mom is somewhat detached from her family, my dad is extremely involved - he organizes every single family holiday, takes care of my grandparents, etc. They both are extremely insightful about the various relationships going on amongst their family members though, especially my mom. Hm.

I agree w/ what a lot of people have said: I don't think this model is applicable to *all* types of families - be they nuclear, mixed, single-parent, step-parent, communal, etc. - but, I do think Bach got it right when he said that each child is born into a different set of family dynamics, as someone mentioned earlier. I guess its more about the unspoken f amily needs that each child internalizes as she/he enters the scene.

I often think about children born into families w/ depressed parents, and how that affects the child's personality. My best friend, for example, has a mother who's depressed, and she tends to display MUCH more second-born traits than first-born. She is extremely nurturing, very emotionally sensitive/intuitive, etc. She is also an over-achiever, hard-worker, etc., but has trained herself to pick up on others' unspoken emotional signals.

Can anyone else relate?


By sarah207 On 08/29/02  

Ms Priss, I've read Kevin Leman's boook too and I think his approach makes a lot of sense: incorporating gender into birth order theories, as you mentioned. A friend of mine was the third of six, but the first boy (named after his dad, no less), and he had a lot of parental expectations to live up to. This guy developed an ulcer at the age of SIXTEEN because he was freaking over whether he could handle taking calculus during the next school year.

Age between the siblings is a biggie too. Another guy I know is the youngest of three -- but his sisters were 19 and 17 when he was born. He came out much more like an only child than like the "baby."

Danielepea, Kevin Leman's "Birth Order Book" talks about stepfamilies and how "blending" a family affects the traits you've developed because of your birth order.

Tolly, my mom was an oldest of three (all girls) and my dad was an only. Sometimes oldests and onlies are lumped together, but my 'rents couldn't be more different! Mom was like a junior mom to her younger sisters and did a lot around the house. Dad was the "miracle child" (my grandmother had a lot of miscarriages, and he was the only baby she could carry to term). He was the apple of Grandma's eye and she doted on him.

I'm the older of two sister (2.5-year age difference). I admit having a harder time questioning authority than my sister does. I also find it hard to see situations in shades of gray. (Although I'm trying to tone down my black-and-white tendencies and stop being so judgmental.)

Sis is the one with the better social, people-reading skills, though. And I'm more introverted, although I'm getting less so. I think it's a matter of getting older and breaking free of the role your family assigns you.

By p-girl On 08/30/02  

Oh wow, both my parents are first borns! I never realised before!

And that's why they're so bloody stubborn, too!

By Rzngrl On 08/30/02  

My husband and I are both second-borns and that description fits us exactly.
Very interesting.

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