How Does Birth Order Affect Sibling Relationships? Information from a Family Counselor in Montana

October 5, 2016 5:57 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

You’ve probably heard people talk about how a person has a true “youngest child” personality. But does birth order really affect personalities? And, taking it a step farther, does it have an influence on relationships between siblings?

There are plenty of family counselors and behavioral psychologists who would answer “yes” to both questions. First, let’s take a look at the generalized personalities of children in each birth order, according to our family counselor in Montana:

  • Firstborn: Firstborn children tend to be ambitious, organized, conscientious and dominant in relationships. Sons tend to be leaders and take charge, while daughters tend to be bossy, aggressive and confident.
  • Middles: Middle children are not as easy to define. It depends on how many there are, for example. However, they can still be predictable. They tend to be relaxed, extremely adaptable and able to mingle with a wide variety of personality types. They are often good at compromising, but can also tend to be secretive.
  • Youngest: The youngest child tends to be less responsible and less driven to take charge, unless he or she is significantly younger than the next-oldest child, in which case he or she is more likely to act like an only child or oldest sibling.

But how exactly does birth order influence the relationships between these siblings? There are, of course, plenty of variables to consider, such as the quality of parenting, the years between children and the amount of children in a family. But generally, here are a few stereotypes that have at least some basis in fact:

  • Firstborn and middles: While middle children are typically able to get along with just about anyone, they are more likely to be closer to the youngest. The reason for this is often because the firstborn, tending toward being more aggressive and independent, can harbor some small amount of resentment for the middle child taking away his or her spotlight. The oldest will focus on going his or her own way and blazing their own trail without worrying much about accommodating the middle child.
  • Middle and youngest: Again, middle children tend to be more accommodating and adaptive. There is less likely to be confrontation between middle children and younger children than there is between middle and older children.
  • Firstborn and youngest: The relationship between the oldest and youngest child really depends heavily on the age gap between the two. Firstborn children and youngest children are not likely to be extremely close, because of the simple age difference, but they typically get along well because the youngest is more than willing to let the oldest take the lead.

These are just a few general examples of how birth order affects family dynamics and relationships between siblings. Again, this is not at all an exact science, and there are many variables that can come into play, but these are fairly consistent general rules. For more information about sibling relationships, contact Ellen Savage, MS, LCPC, DCC, your trusted family counselor in Montana.

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