I remember it like it was yesterday. It was my freshman year at Harvard, and I was going to the first lecture of “Justice” – one of the most popular classes on campus. The lectures took place in Sanders Theater packed by over a thousand students since it’s only offered once every three years. The first question the professor asked – please stand up if you’re the first born child in your family (inclusive of only children). I literally felt like everyone in the entire theater stood up – except me since I’m a youngest child. Why is it that such a high majority of Harvard students are first borns or only children?
Because birth order matters according to Dr. Kevin Leman, author of The Birth Order Book – Why You Are the Way You Are. I’ve been reading it – here’s his framework on how the different orders generally are (noting that not every characteristic applies to every child):
First Child: perfectionist, reliable, conscientious, a list maker, well organized, hard driving, a natural leader, critical, serious, scholarly, logical, doesn’t like surprises, a techie.
Middle Child: mediator, compromising, diplomatic, avoids conflict, independent, loyal to peers, has many friends, a maverick, secretive, used to not having attention.
Youngest Child: manipulative, charming, blames others, attention seeker, tenacious, people person, natural salesperson, precocious, engaging, affectionate, loves surprises.
Only Child: little adult by age seven, very thorough, deliberate, high achiever, self-motivated, fearful, cautious, voracious reader, black-and-white thinker, talks in extremes, can’t bear to fail, has very high expectations for self, more comfortable with people who are older or younger.