Parenting Tips For First Borns

I have been reading a book on birth order by author Michael Grose called Why First-Borns Rule The World And Last-Borns Want To Change It. I have found it to be an interesting read and it has made me reflect not only on the behaviour of my children, but also my own behaviour as well.

Grose states early on in the book that:

“No single factor determines a child’s personality or behaviours. A whole range of factors work together to impact on a child’s personality and birth order is just one of them.”

The publication of Born to Rebel in 1996 by Frank Sulloway, gave legitimacy to the impact of birth order on personality and behaviour.

Characteristics of first borns tend to be listed as:

    – goal setters
    – high achievers
    – perfectionists
    – responsible
    – rule keepers
    – determined
    – detail people

Grose dedicates a whole chapter outlining reasons why birth order doesn’t make sense (eg spacing of children. leapfrogging, gender patterns), but I could see easily that my first born, fits many of these characteristics. I also saw quite a lot of my own personality in these characteristics, even though I am actually second born.

Grose talks about functioning first borns and I think that is a description that would fit me. Changes in my family framework in my early teens would have seen changes in my behaviour, which aligned more with a first born.

I found this knowledge important in analysing the way I parent my children. As with most aspects of parenting, it is not just what you say to children, but it is quite often what you do and how you do it, that sends the most prominent message.

I do set high standards for myself and am also aggressive with the goals that I set for myself. I have been conscious not set the same standards for my children, however, they will obviously have been exposed to my behaviour around my own expectation and drawn their own conclusions.

The section then in the book by Grose which gives strategies for parents specifically for first borns, was particularly useful for me. Grose suggest that parents of first borns should:

    (1). Encourage rather than criticise
    (2). Save some responsibility for others
    (3). Have special times and privieges
    (4). Flaunt your imperfections
    (5). Provide structure and rules

Some of these I would be doing better than others and I can easily see how strategies like flaunting my own imperfections (and there is many 🙂 ) and sharing responsibilty further would be helpful in encouraging my first born not to take life too seriously.

Do your first borns fit the general characteristics of traditional first borns?