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.
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- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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.
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