I’ve been interested in Birth Order for years – I find it so interesting that first-borns tend to behave differently than middle children whom also have different tendencies than the children born last in a family (and of course, there are many other combinations!). Although there are always exceptions, I look at both Russell and myself (we are both first borns!) and our behaviors and expectations are quite similar. After reading some of Kevin Leman’s The Birth Order Book, I became more intrigued about our blended family and how birth order affects our interactions with our children and their relationships with one another.
My youngest is a ten year-old that has plenty of talents. She is an amazing gymnast and enjoys ballet and tap dancing also. She is the youngest of my two children and thus, in our family (prior to LuckySevenFamily) she has been the ‘baby’. Given her status in the family, she tends to be more protected than her older brother. However, in our modern, blended family she is NOT the youngest/baby of the family. Russell’s youngest child is a couple of years younger than her and on top of being the youngest of his three children, she was also born four years after the middle child, giving her the ultimate “baby of the family” status. She is a great soccer player and tends more towards group sports than does my daughter.
The relationship between these two youngest girls is an intriguing one; they are the very best of friends and sisters. Just this past weekend, they were shopping for school clothes together. Ultimately, they chose several matching outfits – so cute! However, there are times when they are ultra-competitive with one another; fighting for their position in the family. Although they are only two years apart in age, my blondie is super tall and Russell’s brunette is a petite girl that looks several years younger than she actually is. This discrepancy in size also plays easily into further “baby of the family” status for the youngest in our blended family. For my daughter, not being the true baby of the blended family can be frustrating; in many ways she becomes a middle child which can be quite annoying for a true “baby of the family”!
Given this observation, we have to be careful about how we react to both girls. Russell and I must work to provide both girls reassurance about their important positions in the family – striving not to always allow his daughter complete ownership of “baby of the family” role and providing some of that experience to my daughter. Similarly, we have to remind my daughter that she must remember she is older and has more mature experiences than our youngest; thus our expectations ARE different.
I could provide plenty of other (very entertaining!) examples of how our oldest children deal with their positions and how Russell’s middle child has his role in our blended family. For another day…
Remember how your blended family affects birth order among all of the children and consider how you can play up the strengths and down-play the drawbacks of these various positions in a blended family! I’d love to hear about your experiences with birth order in a blended family! Feel free to leave under “comments”.