Family Ties: Does birth order affect personality?

All American Girl’ by Meg Cabot (the woman who wrote ‘The Princess Diaries’) dealt with the idea of birth order, and how it affects your personality. It sounded like a lot of made up stuff.

Aoife Bennett discovered she is the typical oldest child, right down to the love of taking charge. Did everyone else fit into their category too? The College View investigated the idea of birth order.

Oldest Child: Anthony Keane, 19, International Relations.

Anthony and his younger sister are separated by just two and a half years, but he has never felt any sort of major responsibility toward her, except when their parents are out.

Much like the stereotypical view of the eldest child, Anthony’s sister mimicked anything he had said or done “all the time”, especially when they were younger. However, he was never expected to be a role model to her, and puts this down to the difference in genders. “She’s a girl and I’m a boy and if I was a role model for her, [my parents] would be a bit worried.”
Like most eldest children, Anthony sees himself as quite independent.

Middle Child: Caoimhe O’Carroll, 19, Communication Studies

Caoimhe may not be described as the typical ‘middle child’, as her younger brother is just two minutes younger than her. But twins can often take on the role of where they fall in the family. Her sister is older than her by six years.

She also feels as if she has to break up fights between those at home. Middle children are usually seen as great mediators.

She often feels like she has to fight for her parents’ attention, especially her dad’s, “lot of the time”. She feels he focuses on her sister’s love of music and her brother’s interest in water sports. This is typical of many middle children who can feel overlooked or overshadowed by their siblings.

Youngest Child: Janine Kavanagh, 19, Journalism

Janine is the youngest of seven. “I always feel babied at home. It’s worse because there’s so many of them.” Many youngest children feel they are still ‘mothered’ even when they have a life of their own.

Janine tried to differentiate herself from the others, which is slightly atypical of the baby in the family. “I usually go out and do the opposite of what they do just so I can be different.”

Youngest children are seen as very creative, a trait Janine likes to think she has herself. It manifests itself in Janine’s choice of career, and the fact that she spends hours doodling.

Only Child: Oisin Kelly, 22, Computer Applications

Like Oisin, many only children can be seen as spoiled, and admits that his aunts buy everything for him.

‘Lonely child syndrome’ is also a phenomenon that Oisin believes exists, where only children can feel socially awkward having had no one of similar age permanently in the home to interact with. “I have always wanted to have a younger sibling. I would have loved to have a younger brother.”

Only children also tend to be very imaginative. Oisin would paint family pictures as a young boy, and include a younger brother for the family, another trait of only children.

It seems where you come in the family does tend to affect your personality. But with every family requiring different roles, perhaps this is just evolution adapting you to what is required in your own family. So try not to fight your role, it is probably a hopeless fight anyway.

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