To our First Born
First born children are full of grace. God grants to them a special place. They with deep thoughts and loving heart. Give of their best from the very start. Because you make your parents smile. We’re proud of you, our first born child. Perry Tankelsey
I’m sure it’s no surprise I am the oldest child in my family.
Yesterday I read several online articles about the characteristics of first born children. Nothing I read surprised me. What it did was confirm what I’d experienced as a child and in my professional career.
Carina Wolff describes what I would call personality types shared by first borns in her article, “7 Interesting Habits All First Born Children Have In Common.”
- First born children tend to make friends with other first born children because they share the same traits. These kids are the leaders because they are used to taking charge at home. As if to balance out this take charge attitude, first born kids are also more conscientious.
- First borns are more independent and have no fear of taking off on their own. Ms. Wolff felt that this was due to the parent’s focus on the younger children leaving the oldest to take care of themselves.
- First borns are caregivers because their younger siblings looked to them for comfort, help, guidance, and protection.
- First borns are leaders and are often the ones to take charge since this is the role they played in their families. The University of Georgia found most of the US presidents were first born as well as astronauts and CEOs.
- First borns are hard workers because they are achievement oriented. As their younger siblings arrived, the attention was shifted from them to their siblings. In order to get attention the first borns had to work harder to make an impression.
- First borns follow directions well and are most likely to conform because they had one-on-one parental attention without sibling competition.
- First borns are better at picking up a second language. A study in Frontiers in Psychology found in bilingual families the oldest showed better second language skills.
- Lastly, according to this article, first borns are less likely to take on risky behaviors and are better behaved in their teen years.
From an article in the online Parents Magazine, How Birth Order Shapes Personalities, by Natalie Lorezi, I learned about first, middle, youngest, and the only child birth orders. For today, I’m sharing information on the first born.
Ms. Lorezi cited work done by Frank Sulloway, PhD, a birth order expert and the author of, Born to Rebel. According to Dr. Sulloway personalities do not hinge on birth order but on the roles siblings take on that lead to differences in behavior. The methods used by children differed depending on the position they held in the family line-up. As each child developed their individual roles, the parents unknowingly reinforced them.
The oldest child has the parent’s undivided attention and the parents are the child’s only role models. He or she mirrors the parents behaviors, follows their lead, and takes charge. The first born likes taking charge and does so with confidence. Kevin Leman, PhD, states first borns are so confident because they don’t have older siblings making fun of them as they learn. The adults take them very seriously and encourage their progress which further boosts their confidence.
All this attention is a set up for first borns to become perfectionists. Because adults are their role models, the standards they set for themselves are unreasonably high. They watch the adults pour their milk without spilling and color within the lines. Their observations become their expectations. The first born wants to get it exactly right the first time. This unrealistic goal may prevent them from trying new things. If they try to do new things, they may make a mistake which would not be acceptable. It is this perfectionist trait that makes it hard for the first born to admit when they’re wrong.
It’s not hard to see why first born children are uptight. Their inexperienced parents were over protective as well as being strict and demanding. The parents assign the eager-to-please first born extra responsibilities which, when completed successfully, were rewarded with more privileges.
As I begin my study of me, I really had no idea where to begin. I found these articles archived in my reading list and thought it’d be a good place to start. As I read I found each article to be surprisingly helpful and enlightened me more than I expected.
While I made my notes and thought about what I’d read, I began to understand there were and are legitimate reasons why I did or didn’t do well in certain situations. This awareness gave me hope and reinforced my feeling that I was finally on the right track.
“A Prayer for Daily Insight
Open my eyes, God. Help me to perceive what I have ignored, to uncover what I have forgotten, to find what I have been searching for. Remind me that I don’t have to journey far to discover something new, for miracles surround me, blessings and holiness abound. And You are near.
― Naomi Levy, Talking to God: Personal Prayers for Times of Joy, Sadness, Struggle, and Celebration