English IV/ Period 1
3rd March 2014
The definition of birth order is the rank of siblings by age. The first-born is the oldest child, the second born is the middle child, and the last-born is the youngest child. The definition that people need to pay more attention to though is psychological birth order, which is a child’s self-perceived position in their own family. Usually, each child in a family is treated differently depending on their rank. The oldest is given the most responsibility, while the youngest is getting all the attention and meanwhile the middle child is getting left out. The way that individual children are treated affects them greatly with their long-term personalities. Although many don’t consider birth order to be a major issue, it is important to recognize the life long effects of the order that a child is brought into this world.
There are two people that have contributed to the causes of birth order effects, and that is the mother and father of the children. Every parent who treats each one of their children differently or holds them to different standards is a contributor. They are pushing that individual to be in a mold that wasn’t necessarily meant for them. Research done by Rome Neal states that “older sisters or baby brothers are more than simple labels on the family tree. Psychologists say that birth order affects all aspects of a child’s personality.” (Neal 1) Neal is stating, that the way a child is raised, or even spoken to and played with will affect the way they treat and talk to others when they are adults. It can even determine their personalities. If the child will grow up to be nice, mean, outgoing, energetic. It can even push a child to grow up to be shy and timid.
The first child born into a family is essentially a parents “perfect kid.” If they have younger siblings than they must set the example for them. Parents tell the child that they have to be a leader and set a good example for their other siblings, but what if that wasn’t how they were supposed to be? Rome Neal has concluded that, “Firstborns are perfectionists their whole lives. As parents, they must set standards that are difficult for a child to reach. This makes them frustrated and the child unhappy.” (Neal 3) A parent that sets an incapable goal for their child is setting them to fail and feel like they have disappointed them. First-borns tend to feel like they are never good enough and are held to unreachable standards.
The pressure of setting a good example for their siblings can hold a lot of pressure for certain children. Although it is capable for one to be a good example and follow the rules for their siblings to follow, it could be a huge burden for others. Imagine doing something wrong and having your parents disappointed in you, telling you that you are a bad older brother or sister. At a young age that could mean a lot and some could possible take it to the extreme. Mel Menzies, recall her mother telling her just that. She says that because she tried so hard to be the “perfect kid”, that personality and drive followed her into her adulthood. “I know some people know how to say no without saying no. I’m simply not one of them. Besides, I am in that unenviable position of being a first-born.” (Menzies 1)
The way parents choose to raise their children can directly affect their long-term personality traits and can even create and an image in their head of how their birth rank is supposed to act. Much like how the eldest child is supposed to be the responsible leader, the youngest child can get away with anything because they are the spoiled baby. These children really have no choice in who they are going to grow up to be, they are just victims of their parents decisions. Rachel Blackwell reports that, “a cycle can start where the youngest takes on the role of ‘the baby’ and the level of self-centered, irresponsible behavior can inadvertently develop.”...
Please join StudyMode to read the full document