"Birth order" refers to whether we were perhaps the first child born in a family or maybe one of many, or maybe even the last. Many researchers think that where we are in relationship to our brothers and sisters helps influence how we develop. Thinking about birth order is one way we get some good clues as to why we are the way we are. Of course, there is no way to always accurately predict how one person may turn out--we are all too different, complex, and unique. But psychologists can be sure of these facts.
Living in a family is a unique and distinctive experience. A person's family exerts more influence on him or her than any other organization, institution, or experience. In any family, a person's order of birth has a lifelong effect on who and what that person turns out to be. No matter what spot we occupy in the family, there are many forces that can intervene and turn things around for us.
If brothers and sisters are raised by the same parents, how do they end up so different? How is it that one sibling grows up to be successful academically and professionally but with few friends, while another becomes the athlete with loads of friends? To the degree that one of the siblings is a responsible person, another will be attention-seeking or rebellious. One will be tied into the ways of the parents and another will look outside the family for support. The strategies we learn in childhood for dealing with our parents and siblings has a lasting influence on our behavior, often in ways we barely recognize.
The world of the first born child is very different from that of the second born, and if a third comes along he or...