Does Birth Order Affect Who We Are?

Have you ever wondered if our birth order really does affect us or not?  If you are a firstborn or even an only child, you may be more likely to become a doctor or lawyer. The younger siblings more often turn to the arts or the outdoors, so we can partially credit our parenting to the job of our choice.

The older or single children are often overprotected by the parents so they tend to follow more brain-based interests. Parents are usually more relaxed and hands-off with those children born after the first child. Twenty-one of 23 American astronauts were firstborn children.  Other famous firstborns were Winston Churchill, Hillary Clinton, and Oprah Winfrey. Most CEO’s are also firstborns. A survey completed in 2007 of corporate leaders found that 43% were firstborns, 33% were middle children and 23% were youngest children.

The younger siblings are more likely to play contact sports and the ones more likely to put on the pads or go ski jumping, skydiving, motorcycle racing or to play lacrosse.

They conducted a study that looked at birth order and “dangerous” sports in college students and found that the firstborn men were more likely to avoid those sports while the younger brothers were more dare devilish.  Much more quality time is given to firstborns compared with their younger siblings. They actually get as much as 3,000 more hours of quality time with parents than the younger siblings do at the same age.

If there are two or more kids there is less total free time than when there was just a firstborn. Also, as the moms get older, they feel closest to their youngest child and report feeling closest to their “babies” no matter what the family size or spacing between kids.

In the study, mothers said firstborns were the ones they’d turn to when facing personal problems or a crisis.  

An only child or firstborn tends to try to be perfect more than the laterborns. Those without siblings are often treated like little adults and seem to have this trait more.  Most of us are born with other siblings.

Children who are spaced less than two years apart quite often have more conflict than those born more than two years apart, according to pediatricians.

It was also found that parents call the doctor less often with later-born children. That “parents learning curve” on how to care for a child is usually tested with the firstborn.  All doctors report that they receive more calls from parents with a first born child and the parents need to build confidence in figuring out which problems a doctor can help with and which they can handle on their own.

Dr Fredda Branyon