Birth Order - A Special Place in the Family
Many people have called Heartland Family Service for information on Birth Order. There are four basic positions in the family:
- Firsts are more attuned to the outside world. "Child of the Father" (Fifth children start over as first)
- Seconds are more internal. "Child of the Mother" (Sixth is second)
- Thirds are affected by the relationships of family members. "Child of the Marriage"
- Fourths are concerned about the entire family functions. "Child of the Family"
An only child is viewed as first.
Twin birth order is a matter of family perception.
In the last tip, we talked about 1st & 2nd born children. Now, let’s move on to third children. Remember, if you are a 7th child, you would have the same characteristics as a third. Describe what third children are like.
Thirds are born into a complex network of relationships, where children outnumber the parents. They tend to focus on relationship issues for the purpose of feeling connected to others. The children first and most likely to be distressed by marital or other relationship difficulties in the family. They want parents to be happy and may act as if they don’t care, but they care deeply. Can also be stubborn. They are often introspective - the kind parents often refer to as "spacey."
What specific things can parents keep in mind to make it easier to parent these third-born children?
Thirds need time to retreat from the family - to withdraw - to observe. Give plenty of choices, especially when they are "stuck" on something. They learn best when they understand the principles or the connections behind the task. They respond best when rules are connected to preserving balance in family relationships.
Why is the fourth child called the "Child of the Family?"
Now the family is even more complex -- the 4th child tries to perceive and understand the family as a whole. Fourths tend to be expressive and loving. They respond to any family member’s pain. They want everyone to get along and are happy when the family is happy. Might ask for "group hugs."
What can we do for "fourths?"
Parents should connect rules and discipline to how it benefits some overall family goal. Fourths tend to be easily overwhelmed - try to cut the 4th child’s tasks down to size. Help them feel less responsible for all the family’s problems. Since they may be more connected to the "big picture," they may need help in learning to pay attention to the details.
For more information on relationships, call 553-3000 or toll-free (877) 553-3001 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Reprinted with the permission of the Heartland Family Service. © 2008 Heartland Family Service
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