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The Remarried Life


Mar 12, 2019

Brian Mayer talks about how birth order affects kids when families are blended.  It is tough enough for kids to go through certain issues because they are born at a particular spot in the order, but sometimes that order can be completely thrown off when a remarriage occurs.  We will talk about birth order and the effects that remarriage has on this in today’s episode.  We hope you are inspired by today’s message.  For more information and additional resources please visit our website at http://www.theremarriedlife.com

Today's Goodies

  • You may have heard a lot about birth order.  In the simplest terms it is the order that child is born and the place they hold within the family.  So for example, if you have 3 children then there is a first born, a middle child, and youngest child.  But that is probably where the simplicity ends. 
  • There has been all sorts of research about birth order and what this means for each child but then we will take things a step further by talking about the impact a change in birth order can have during a remarriage.   There is controversy on this subject as to whether or not birth order truly affects personality and I am on the fence about this topic but nevertheless it is interesting to delve into. 
  • Lets talk about the different positions in birth order and what researchers tend to think it means especially through then lens of Alfred Adler, who was an Austrian psychiatrist who lived from 1870 - 1937:
    • First Born tended to want to be perfect, high needs for words of affirmation, highly intellectual.  He also said that first borns can tend to dominate social situations. 
    • Second or Middle Children – Since they are aware that there is another child that came first these children can tend to be competitive or even rebellious.  He also said that they may have a tough time finding there way in life.  Somewhat like the first born they also look to be praised.  Since they are in the middle they can often learn to be peacemakers and work to negotiate between members of the family. 
    • Youngest and Only Children – Since this child might often be coddled and spoiled, he says that often this child can become selfish.  He also says this child can appear to be confident and have fun with others.  Being told “No” especially for an only child can be difficult for them.   Only children tend to be more mature according to Adler.
    • Twins – Even though they are the same age, one typically is seen as the more dominant and more active child. 
    • Age Gaps – Adler says that if 3 or more years are between the children then this can cause differences in the birth order personalities to arise.  For example if the second children was born say 8 years after the first child then it would stand to reason that both the first and second child might operate like an only child. 
  • Ok fine, now we understand a little bit more about birth order but what happens when you divorce and remarry and now this gets turned on it’s head.  Lets say you have a 6, 8 and 10 year old and your new partner has a 9, 13, and 15 year old.  This means that several of the children’s order is now completely juggled.  So your 10 year old went from being the oldest to now more like a middle child.  Or your partner’s 9 year old went from being the youngest to a middle child.  Very tough indeed for each of these kids
  • What happens when your first born for example has to cede more “control” to a child from the other spouses family.
  • Or what happens to that middle child who may already feel somewhat lost becomes even more lost. 
  • How about the youngest child who may have gotten lots of attention and now gets less because there is someone even younger. 
  • What can help in this situation: 
    • Have a discussion with your spouse about this birth order dynamic and what it might do to the children.  You each will have a good understand of who might be affected the most here. 
    • Knowing that According to research if the age gaps are more pronounced then it will tend to have less of an impact on them when things do change. 
    • Research also says that the older the child is then the less this birth order change should impact them.  This makes sense because the younger the child, the less of a frame of reference they have these changes and less life experience to draw upon when these changes are made. 
    • Make sure the kids have friends and other relationships outside the family so they are not solely reliant on relationships with the new siblings.
    • Communication with each child is key to help identify what their concerns are with having new siblings of different ages appearing.  Ask them what they feel like to know that they are no longer the oldest or youngest etc.  Of course understanding that the youngest children may not yet have a full grasp on what this all means. 
    • Make sure each child still have a place (hopefully a separate room but if not a well defined place in a room with their own space including desk and drawer space that is not mixed with anyone else.    
    • Allow each child turns at planning different events like dinner or activities.  Again this will give the children that may have been bumped from the oldest spot a chance to feel like they are making a contribution again.   
  • Along with everything else that changes in a blended family, having a strong awareness of birth order is key.  Be united with your spouse to know that this is an important topic that should be talked about so that each child knows and understand how their new position is impacted and how they may have a new role but that this does not diminish who they are.        

Resources:

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As always remember that marriage is not something you have, it is something you do.  Talk to you next week unless you are binge listening in the future in which case I will talk to you in about a minute!  Take care.