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Friday, February 3, 2012

A Lesson on Birth Order

I feel like the "education" part of my blog has been on the back burner lately.  Who wants to tune in every week simply for entertainment and to pass the "blahs?"  Let's get more bang for our buck and learn something at the same time!! So, I introduce to you...

Doug and I have studied extensively on the different personalities.  We could teach an all day seminar on them.  In fact, Doug often does.  If you've never studied the personalities, it is worth doing it.  It will help you with your co-workers, children, friends, spouse, etc.  I'm a melancholy (orderly, don't like surprises, analytical, cautious).  Doug's a sanguine (friendly, outgoing, loves being around people, emotional, spontaneous).  Don't think it didn't cause WWIII when we got married, and he used my toothbrush one morning!

But, I've never studied birth order.  And I wish I had.  The personalities made teaching junior high children so much easier, but this would have added to it.  (You know the kid with so much potential,  but he doesn't do a flippin' thing???)

As I've posted earlier, we've been reading some of Kevin Leman's books around here.  I decided to pick up The New Birth Order on the fly the other day.  I was in a desperate attempt to try to "figure out" Kennedi as she is now the middle child.  Middle children are not something our families (Doug or mine) has much experience with.  Just about everyone has/has come from an only one child or two. My motive was to get a download on middle children, but what I really got was a download on first borns. 

Annsley obviously is a first born.  However, because Andrei is the first born male, he will have many first born attributes despite him being the baby. Any child in the family who is 5 years+ younger starts a "new" family and becomes the first born. 

There isn't a lot about middle children.  Out of all the research out there, there is the least written and known about the middle child.  In fact, Leman states in his book that middle children are the most likely to be the well adjusted adults.  Counselors/psychiatrists see fewer of them than anyone else.  They actually see mostly first borns and only children!  Apparently, the skills that middle children learn being the middle child will serve them well later on.  Yea for Kennedi! You go, Girl! He did stress though to do things to make the middle child feel special as he feels "squeezed" by big sister and baby squeezed right out of the game in other words.  Point taken Dr. Leman!

Doug and I have been working on becoming recovering procrastinators this past year and surprise! A great deal of the book was devoted to first borns/only children and their perfectionism--and that perfectionism leading to procrastination!  And how we as parents influence them in that area and how we as the parents need to be mindful of the little things we do to them to further that perfectionism mentality.  An example he makes in the book:  Your 4 year old makes her bed.  You say, "That's a great job" as you smooth out the wrinkles.  She learns that her job wasn't really good enough.  They become so concerned with being perfect that many first borns/only children that it leads to procrastination because they have a fear of messing up--so they end up not doing anything. And yes, I know there are lots of reasons why people procrastinate.  But lots of people tend to procrastinate because of the perfection issue. 

Doug and I (both first borns) can write a book about that one.  We have already been able to witness that in Annsley.  Literally, she will take 45 minutes picking out a shoe to buy. She's doesn't want to bring home the wrong one.  In contrast, I took Kennedi the other day to buy some new shoes.  We walked into the first store and she tried on and bought the first pair of shoes she saw.  I've been catching myself after reading that book about "correcting" Annsley.  The other day she was folding laundry, and I just had to bite my tongue and sit on my fingers.  I all of a sudden got what Leman had been saying in his book. 

He also cautioned about piling all the responsibilities on the first born.  As he stated in his book, he said that so many first borns complained that they still had trash detail when they were in high school--meaning, their chores just kept adding and adding because "they were so responsible".  The "baby" chores weren't dropped from their list and given to their siblings. (For instance, the first born 10 year old vacuums, sweeps the floor, cleans the bathroom while her 8 year old sister wipes her booger on the front door that her older sister just shined to perfection because the only thing the 8 year old had to do was dust, and so she had time on her hands to stick a finger up her nose...OK, so Leman didn't say that in his book...perhaps I am dealing with some unresolved issues from my own childhood...) I've caught myself doing that with Annsley.  I know she will do a better job gathering all the trash and putting the trash bags in the cans, and she's been doing that since she was 4.  So I've rearranged some things and have Kennedi picking up some of Annsley's easier chores.  And I just have to take a deep breath when I go into the bathroom and find Q-tips spilled on the floor by the trash can and the bag not exactly the way I would have done it.  He also addresses the "dethronement" issue all first borns encounter when the next child is born, and he gives suggestions on how to handle that. 

It's been interesting because Doug and I have examined about how we were raised and having to deal with the whole perfectionism thing. It's really been an eye opener for both of us.  I remember thinking as I read those chapters that I felt so vindicated!  Yea! I knew there was a deep seeded reason why I would rip the heads off and drowned my sister's Barbies in the swimming pool or spend hours and hours and hours reading books on how to ski before I even skiid for the first time. (I needed to get as much information as I could so I would make the fewest amount of mistakes...and maybe, just maybe I would be able to ski like Jean Claude Killy right out of the box!)  I wasn't an island.  We first borns were a club! We had others out there who were card carrying members of the "Suffering First Born/OnlyChildren" and had very similar upbringings. (And to know that our first born/only child parents are card carrying members of the same club!) I don't know about you, but I always feel better when I realize that I wasn't the only one in the world.  Then I realized that this book wasn't so I could be validated in my shortcomings.  It was a wake up call to Doug and me to be watchful that we didn't take Annsley's natural first born giftings and create a liability in her.  Knowledge brings power! 

If you're into reading, check it out.  I know you'll learn something about yourself and those you love! Although the book largely in part discusses parenting your children, there are chapters about birth order in the workplace and marriages as well.  I give the book a "2 thumbs ups!"


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