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How Birth Order Affects Your Children

by | Sun, May 21 2023

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Recently on Rise and Shine, Robbo and Becci caught up with Brett and Kate Ryan from Focus on the Family Australia to discuss the impact that the birth order of children can have on a family.

Brett believes there is a lot more research developing in this area, but there will always be some people who just dismiss it. “The more research and the more reading I do, it becomes evident but you can’t put everyone in the same block. As a general feeling the oldest of a family are usually more perfection orientated, more responsible goal setters.

‘They’re very determined. And then the second child can be much more diplomatic because they have to actually negotiate and be flexible.’

Brett continues that both he and Kate are the youngest of their respective families. ‘Normally the youngest will have a bit more charm, be more risk-taking and a bit more outgoing. We don’t necessarily like authority, and we might challenge that now and again.’

Brett says that these are not hard and fast rules though, but they do have an influence over how we interact with one another as siblings. ‘Where you are in the birth order can also affect when you get married and who you marry, and it also can affect your parenting. So there has a ripple effect to our birth order.’

Brett and Kate Ryan
Brett and Kate Ryan

Kate says that at first, she dismissed the idea of birth order affecting children. ‘When my children were younger, there was no evidence that one was kind of different from the other. But as they got older it actually became really clear. We’ve come across so many children who sat in the middle child space, and they get labeled and don’t know quite where they fit. The first one was made to feel precious because they were the first and the last one’s the baby, and they’re kind of just stuck in the middle.’

Kate adds, ‘We’ve always said second, so everybody’s got their special space. They’re all precious.’

Kate also believes that you should never expect your eldest to set the example. ‘That’s not fair to a child, because they are a child. You can’t say that you’re responsible and everybody’s following. We are the parents and we’re the ones that are setting the example.’

Brett says that sometimes parents can put too many responsibilities on your first because you’re trying things out on them. ‘Just when you think you’ve got it down pat, you have a second or third or fourth, and they’re all different. There’s a whole lot more into this topic other than just birth order.’

Kate says that she is more of a perfectionist, and Brett is more chilled. ‘But he’s very supportive of me. We’re united, but from that younger kind of sibling position, it’s very interesting to watch. And when we look at it in those terms we can see why we’re doing that. It helps bring perspective and understanding.’

Brett and Kate have further reading about how birth order affects your marriage, and also have some great advice on how birth order can affect sibling conflicts.

You can check out the website for more resources at families.org.au or listen to rest of their chat with Robbo and Becci below.

Tune into Rise & Shine weekdays on Vision Christian Radio. Click here for your local times.

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