Last week, we looked at the peculiarities of the first born and middle child. Today, we’ll examine the last born, only child and twins. The way they behave can help you in crafting your story’s characters.
Last Born Children
Last born children fight hard to get noticed. They are often the class clown, the maverick, the life of the party. Their older siblings consider them spoiled.
Characteristics of the youngest include:
||Casts blame on others
Careers include “On stage” professions – TV announcers and anchor people, salespeople (because of their ability to manipulate people). They like jobs where they can work alone and do things at their own pace.
|Outgoing, affectionate, creative, confident, uncomplicated,
||Spoiled, manipulative, immature, self-centered, impetuous, feel they live in the shadow, rebellious, absentminded
Why? Parents are “taught out” and let the kid fend for himself.
They are suckers for praise and encouragement. Their attention-seeking antics can be turned around with a “I’ll show them” attitude.
Famous last born children include Howard Stern, Jay Leno, Danny DeVito, Steve Martin.
If the first born child is pressured to succeed, the only child is the mega first born, squared. They are super perfectionists, super reliable, super scholarly and any of the other super*latives generally applied to the first born.
How an only born’s personality is molded depends on why he’s an only. If his parents tried to have other children but could only have one, all their energy and attention is heaped on him. He can become very pampered and spoiled and may have problems in later life with self-centeredness.
If he is an only child because it was a conscious decision of his parents’, he may have grown up with a very structured, disciplined expectation of being the “little adult.” Resentment at being deprived of his childhood might cause problems.
An only child’s personality can swing from responsible, upstanding citizen to scared and rebellious because they’re not in as much control as they look.
|Matures faster, gets along better with older or younger people, responsible, ambitious, perfectionists, conscientious, loves facts and details
||Self-centered, have difficulty sharing, attention seeking, fear of trying new things, worry too much, inflexible
Onlies tend to be critical, often lonely, and have difficulty relating to peers.
Careers include those similar to the first born child: law, medicine, architecture.
Famous only children are Robin Williams, Tiger Woods, Brooke Shields, Carol Burnett.
Twins can take on any of the other birth order’s characteristic, so it is hard to describe them, but there is a distinction on which of the two is the leader.
The leader’s traits:
|Most resemble first borns
The follower’s traits:
|Most resembles shy middle child
Twins may have identity issues, not feel unique, hide behind their twin’s shadow or feel overshadowed. On the plus side, they have a constant companion, someone who understands them. They are confident, multi-taskers and want to stand out from their peers.
Famous twins include Ann Landers and Abigail Van Buren, The Olsen Twins, Fred and George Weasley.
Of course, not every first born is a perfectionist, and not every middle child is a peacekeeper. You can use these variables to think outside the box when it comes to adding depth to your characters.
The marital status of the parents is important. If your character’s parents are married, separated, divorced or remarried, it will have an effect on him.
Parenting style is also critical. A strict parent has different expectations than a more liberal one, regardless of birth order.
Parent birth order can influence a child. A first born parent will be more critical of their first born child. A middle born parent will be less confrontational.
A gap of more than five years between siblings often creates a “second family” with the new child taking on the characteristics of a first born.
Adoption of a new child rearranges the dynamics of the existing child(ren) as does the blending of two families through remarriage. Their order is bumped up or down, and resentment at being replaced as the oldest/youngest can cause friction.
A sibling with a physical or mental handicap causes the other children in the family to mature quicker, whether they are older or younger.
The death of a sibling bumps a child up or down. Children usually take the role of the sibling to keep the deceased child a part of their life. “Ghost” children occur when a child dies and another is born shortly afterward.
The Birth Order Book, Why You Are The Way You are by Dr. Kevin Leman
Ancestry.com, the importance of birth order
The Ultimate Personality Guide by Jennifer Freed and Debra Birnbaum