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  1. My second born is like your first born. They are Irish twins so I feel that might have something to do with it. But my youngest has been taking care of my oldest since he was 2. He is a perfectionist, the helper, cleaner, and ambitious. My first born is sweet and hilarious. (Funnier than most adults) He loves people and does not get as embarrassed as easily as my youngest. My firstborn, Jace, is a little messy and has confidence issues. I love learning how other peoples children are because its amazing all the similarities (which helps you as a parent to not feel alone) but also the differences. My First born spreads God’s word to everyone, whether at school or on social media. He has such a light in him. My second born is really shy and it take him a minute to warm up to people. Thank you for your podcast. Im a boy mom and have been looking for a Christian parenting podcast to listen to for the longest time and I found you and it is the best part of my morning. God bless and take care!!

  2. Sydney Hamilton says:

    This is actually so true! I’m an oldest child myself, and I’m definitely a deep perfectionist (Ennegram type 1). I’m either a complete neat freak, or just let the chaos happen because I have a ‘system’ to my madness. Definitely a difference between my siblings and I. I have 4 younger sisters, and whenever we are asked to do a chore I’m expected to step up first because otherwise I’m ‘lazy’. It gets quite annoying. I’m also put on the back burner health wise, I’m not sure if this is the case with everyone though. Especially mental heath, as I’m expected to be the example, so being open about my mental health is a big no no in my house.

    Another thing I’d think I would add is that most of the older siblings I know tend to be more sarcastic and dark in their humor. This probably isn’t universal, but almost all of the oldest siblings I know have a very dark sense of humor.

    Anyways, great article!

  3. i am a regular 11 year old and am the middle child but agree that the eldest children have more responsibility. My mom is always caring about my grades and helps me but I would have to admit my big sister helps the most. she takes care of herself yet gets straight A’s unlike me which inspires me. we have a younger sibling that does not respect my sister as much but understands my sister is going through a lot. i love my big sister and will always keep loving her

  4. I have always found birth order fascinating too since reading a book on the subject as a teenager! My husband and I are both firstborns, which I know is not the most common pairing. However, I was a very typical firstborn and he was a more passive one. We both were held to high standards by our parents but I was given a heavy load of responsibility for our house and my three younger siblings due to an uninvolved parent, while he was raised in an extremely controlled environment and was not trusted to make his own decisions. It is sometimes difficult finding the balance between our two childhoods in order to raise our kids in a healthy way. We have four children and our oldest two are harder to peg and contradict the birth order descriptions in many ways. They are only 13 months apart, so I often wonder if that plays a role. Our oldest is also a boy and our second is a girl. Much like my husband and I, they are alike in many ways and polar opposites in others.

    1. Hey B– Glad you commented. It is an interesting study for sure! I think being tuned in and sensitive is a big key. I’m sure you’re doing a great job…Much aloha and Happy new Year!

  5. Leanne Strong says:

    I am the oldest of 2 children, AND I have Asperger Syndrome. I agree on the part about expecting others to behave perfectly. For example, when I was in middle school, I used to get VERY mad if someone said, “give me a pencil,” instead of, “may I have a pencil please?” I was also more focused on fairness. Whether it was an unequal amount of discipline, attention, screen time, holiday presents, money spent on toys, allowance, or anything else. This was because I remembered how adults had always said stuff like, “it’s not fair that you get more cupcakes than your brother does,” or, “I’m not going to let you take more time to finish your work than the other kids, because it wouldn’t be fair.”

  6. Ms. Swanson, it’s good to read how you’ve recognized how wrong and harmful it can be to expect too much of, put too much pressure on, or take for granted your firstborn child. Far too many parents who do that need a clear message regarding those behaviors. Let this firstborn share that message with all such parents (and with younger siblings who take unfair advantage of firstborns): “Stop it — *now*! And don’t *ever* do that again!”

    Far too many parents keep making those grave mistakes until, one day, their firstborns make it clear that, after years of being (mis)used as built-in, free babysitters and housekeepers, they want no more part of “family life.” Many also realize at a fairly young age that they don’t ever want to be parents themselves. As also often happens, the blissfully ignorant parents (and younger siblings) of such put-upon firstborns one day realize that they only way they ever hear about their firstborns’ lives and achievements is at best secondhand.

    That sort of thing is exactly what such parents and spoiled younger siblings deserve.

    Firstborns, meanwhile, have a right to fair, equitable treatment, not to be exploited or overloaded with responsibility or expectations, and to have their own identities, rights, interests, and individual lives respected. Let that happen because of, not despite, their parents and families.

  7. My oldest daughter, who is 10, is a text book first born. She’s never gotten anything below an A in school, has never gotten in trouble, is always the model student, etc. She must be perfect in school and gets very upset when there is disruptive behavior because one is not following the rules. At home, it’s a very different story. She is mean to her 7 year old sister and tries to be a little mommy to her with constantly correcting her and telling her what to do. She gets furious when the little one doesn’t do it her way. She has trouble sharing with her sister. She wants to be the first at everything…the first to shower, the first to give hugs to dad when he gets home from work…and will push my 7 year old out of the way. I feel so bad for my youngest. We give her so much attention and love but it seems like it not enough. We do correct and discipline her when she acts rudely to her sister. She will cry and cry and/or she’ll get furious. I don’t know what to do with her anymore!!

  8. I’m a firstborn who had that organized chaos, but I’ve given up. My parents don’t get my stress. I’m in an elite program at my school, and they expect me to be home, do chores, have a social life, get homework done, have a good atitude. Which could be done if in didn’t have events like charity, or volunteering. But they claim I won’t get into college without this program. But they still won’t let up about anothing else on that condensed list and other things too.

    1. So sorry Tristen. It sounds like you and your parents need to have a nice sit down and connect time. 🙂
      Maybe with a third party? (a counselor or trusted friend?) You sound overwhelmed and I think it’s important for them to understand you. Perhaps you aren’t understanding them at the same time…So definitely keep working on the communication! Hang in there and keep your own head on straight. (Us parents don’t always get things right but our hearts are usually for your best!) ALoha-

  9. Sarah Thomas says:

    What about twins?

    1. Haha–Great question!! I better look that up before I try to answer! 😉 I am guessing the book has at least a mention of that…Thank you for commenting. Aloha-

  10. Great read & mostly true… However, Reese Whiterspoon has an older brother. She is in fact the baby of her family.

  11. How’s this? I’m the oldest of 4. But my mom is the oldest of 6. Putting my uncles 6 years older than me. My parents worked so I went to grandmas house daily with my uncles. I have 0 of the above traits? Could I fall into the birth order of my moms family and be the youngest?

    1. Fascinating, Luke! I don’t consider myself an expert on this, but I think you’re on to something! 🙂 I’m sure it can go many ways, but that sounds pretty reasonable to me! Thank you for commenting!

  12. “If they cannot keep it perfect, they let it be messy”

    I am a firstborn and this is a distinct quality of mine. I wouldn’t have quite worded it that way though. For example, handwriting. I know it will never be perfectly neat, so I arrange my letters at slightly different heights, and it ends up having a uniformed look in that way. Or, I have lots of different size/color/etc picture frames so I don’t try to arrange them accordingly, I arrange them as “randomly” as possible – when it’s actually not random at all, rather a planned attempt to seem random.

    1. Wow, Shannon– even that is so fascinating! Thank you for sharing! I would love to see your cute handwriting! 🙂
      Much aloha!

  13. Lilliannette Marrero says:

    So I have a 13yr gap between me and my first brother, the a 9yr gap between me and the middle brother…. We’re totally reversed though. I stuggle constantly with being the youngest but then contonously taking the adult role. It’s draining. Oh, and I’m totally a perfectionist, -I guess I’m more of a firstborn.

    1. Yep–that is not so uncommon! The big gap can make things all funny like that, but hopefully it helps to be aware of some of the tendencies and things to look out for! 🙂 Much Aloha-

  14. This absolutely is our household to a tee!!! Amazing! We have an 11 year old (1st born), 7, 6, and 8 months! It’s also true for the 6 year old!

  15. Wow!!!! I came across this randomly on facebook. I am not a parent, I am the first born and I will tell you, it is spot on. I always wondered why I cannot deal with messy rooms, messy cars or anything. I’ve even found myself cleaning my siblings rooms, cars even friends rooms and cars. For the longest I strived to be perfect in my parents eyes with no acknowledgment or attention due to my sibling being the wild child, all attention was on her. But whenever I did get praise, it was the most euphoric feeling in the world. I think the part that struck a cord with me was the spousal part. It has been extremely hard to find someone because I feel like they’re not up to par. This is was such a good read my mouth was literally open the entire time while I had epitome after epitome.

    1. Oh Errick…that is so fun and great to hear from you! Glad to help a little–but the book I suggested might be even more helpful! Firstborns have many great qualities so no worries–you’ll do great in life!! 🙂 xO

  16. First borns are spoiled brats because they have already have had the first and best from their parents. They believe the whole world revolves around them because it has, the parents made sure that happened. Now they are self centered and master minded, and really don’t think anyone is as good as they are because the parents made them think they were the best. They lack empathy and true love for others because it doesn’t truly include them. They want more and more because they feel entitled to it because it was usually automatically given to them by their parents. Even so they tend feel put upon because they actually have to DO something for someone else. As for instance, to watch their siblings. Gee, what an awful price to pay when the world is at their feet. Poor put upon, spoiled babies. Unbelievable. That is so asinine and ultimate of self centeredness. You need to learn to stop feeling sorry for self serving selves and start empathizing for others that didn’t get it all like you did. And the expectations are good because they’ve been given it all to work with anyway. It’s too bad parents aren’t made aware of this problem before it happens because it’s very sad. .

    1. Thanks for commenting Crystal. Sounds like you’ve had a bad experience with a sibling order and feel unfairly treated.
      It doesn’t always go like that, but sorry for how you feel. 🙂 Hope you can make the best of your situation! ALoha-

    2. Wow, my first born is nothing like you described. Sorry for your experience!

  17. HA! I love this topic. I read Kevin Leman’s birth order book about two years ago and I laughed so hard I cried. My husband and I are both first borns. What’s interesting is when you start tracing your parents back and back and fitting together all the birth orders. What a riot! Our first born is totally typical. Yesterday, he confided in me that his Dad is great at taking a persons’ stress level down to a manageable level. Does that mean I’m pushing too hard? Probably! Great reminders and advice from the book. Now I’m off to read the middle kid post because mine is doozy of a middle kid. Thanks for this fun post!

  18. I’m so hard on my oldest…This article will change everything for the better……thank you

    1. awww, me too! 🙂 It’s ok, he probably handles it very well. But so glad if this helps you switch up a few things for the better. Aloha!

  19. Karen Castillo says:

    Great blog Monica! My son Daniel is many of the traits you listed but is not the clean-freak I sometimes wish he was. Lol! Did you know that both Fernando and I are first-borns? I heard a pastor advise that marriages don’t work too well when first borns marry each other. It hasn’t been a problem for us. Most people I know do not marry someone with the same birth-order as them though. Interesting!

  20. My oldest and middle are reversed. Some of the things listed apply to my oldest, but the majority of it applies to my middle son.

  21. Jessica Carey says:

    I’m the oldest of me and my younger brothers, as my older half brothers are at least 14 years older than me. And this completely explains me it was scary. Clean freak, controlling sometimes, and a bit bossy! Ni but this even helped me learn a little more about myself. Wow, thank you for this post!

  22. Michelle Penrod says:

    Although I agree with a lot of this I would have to agree and say that it is not all firstborns nor limited to firstborns. This actually describes my 2nd much better, *to a tea* in fact. I would say that being a firstborn contributes and produces many of these characteristics but if you parent well then it won’t be your “firstborn” but the one that has those characteristics as their personality. I am in no way a perfect parent but I think it is really really important to do these 5 things with ALL of your children! I do not like comparisons nor groupings. As a society we tend to do those things in an unhealthy way. Instead of “firstborns” it’s better to just understand the characteristics of your children no matter their birth order and teach them correct principles and how to develop the best characteristics within themselves. Which is essentially what you said here “steering them towards seeking Excellence, instead of Perfection. Doing your best should be the goal, rather than being perfect. Help them gain perspective.” Just don’t label it as a firstborn thing because many many people are perfectionists and certainly many many “firstborns” are not perfectionists.

  23. Nailed it. I am a firstborn and I jokingly tell my mother, I’m the parent! I LOVE his book. I picked it up a few years ago. I am really interested in personality differences, traits and what makes a person “tick” or motivates them. My twins have reversed roles where the 2nd born (1 min later) is the neat freak and the “oldest” thrives in organized chaos. They are both very much people pleases and are very responsible. Although, the first twin is more mature

  24. Wow. I’m fifteen and the oldest of seven. I just read this and started crying. I can relate to this so much! I’ve been struggling with a lot of these things, especially today. So this really came at a good time! I lean more on the “organized chaos” side but everything else is spot on. I am a perfectionist, I spend more time with adults than people my age, and I put so much pressure on myself. What I long for more than anything else is my parents approval. I get stuck babysitting my siblings a lot, and I try to work hard balancing everything. Homeschool, family stuff, and personal stuff. I put so much pressure on myself. I have lots of feelings about this, but I never know quite how to say it. I might just have to show my parents this post.

    1. Annie–Thank you so much for commenting. You sweet thing! I sure hope you show the post to your folks, I bet they would really appreciate it! So glad this shed a little light on you and your family. Hope you stick around here too–Aloha! 🙂

  25. Many of the things you wrote above are true of my eldest, but I also have to add the factor that he’s being raised by two firstborns, & we are perfectionists who can be hard on him. One thing for sure, he is NOT a neatnick! My husband is; I am not. I fit the “perfectionist” who is NOT neat in part b/c I know I cannot get a thing to perfection and keep it that way (the kitchen, for example), so I leave it in an almost-right state most of the time. I work hard ALL the time, but hit a point when I NEED to relax & rest, so I give up striving for Perfect…but that still makes me a perfectionist b/c I expect everyone else to do their part perfectly. Each of us (my husband, son & I) is a control-freak. That’s hard on all three of us. When we were newlywed my husband & I would have an I-Have-To-Be-Right face-off and one of us would inevitably say to the other, “Stop being a Firstborn!” when we recognized where the headstrong battle for control originated.

    I was a big, bad boss to my younger sister when we were young. My son is guilty of the same thing often. He is a major leader in all things–in the neighborhood he’s known as a Tom Sawyer or Pied Piper. He can call all the local boys together to “help” him clean our family’s van, and when I look out he’s standing outside the van praising everyone for the great job they are doing on the job he was asked to do! He has a lawn mowing business in our neighborhood, and I found he was paying another neighborhood boy $2 to help him move his equipment from house to house. What a smartie!

    So, yes, boss, leader, controlling, attorney-type-arguer, wicked intelligent, capable, arrogant & confident, but struggling a lot inside himself with many, many anxieties, worries, concerns that I think come from the heavier hand of his dad & me on trying to shape him into a boy of character who doesn’t think everything in the house is HIS, b/c he has that ADULT-CHILD attitude you mentioned above. He really has tried to be an adult since he was about 3. Maybe earlier. He is always curious about adult issues/things, and enjoys talking with & spending time with adults. He is intellectually gifted & always had a pedantic vocabulary. Other kids noticed this & would be taken aback by his different view of the world–even other firstborns, so it’s not necessarily a firstborn issues, but it does complicate the Firstborn paradigm when you add in an extra specialty of some sort (ADHD, Aspergers, profound giftedness, etc.). We’ve known Firstborns in each of those categories and others, too, who sort of break the Firstborn Mold b/c their “other” issue overrides Firstborn-ness.

    1. Lolly–
      Wow, fascinating. I love hearing your story–It really makes for a great study! 🙂 Thanks so much for sharing, and it sounds like you are very mindful and involved–Your son will turn out great! (the van story had me laughing. Classic!)

  26. I think birth order is so fascinating, especially where t pertains to your own birth order and how it affects your parenting style. I’ve read Kevin Leman’s book and also put to good use his parenting book: “Making Your Children Mind Without Losing Yours.” My husband and I were both the youngest in our respective families, and at times we feel our oldest daughter is more mature than us! LOL. it’s very interesting with the family dynamic changes the birth order….our son was the youngest for seven years and then our youngest daughter came along, making him a middle child. He possesses the qualities of both “the baby” and also a middle child; however those middle child traits did not show up until he was around 10–12…after becoming a middle child. It’s all just really interesting!! I’ve recommended Dr. Leman’s book to many people!

    1. Thank you Sue! My husband and I did a study at our church watching videos and reading the “Making your children mind” book, and yes–it was good. You do have an interesting scenario in your home. Thank you for commenting, and much aloha to you!

  27. Quentin jones says:

    Hmmmmm fascination read!!! Can I just say that my oder is extremely screwed up!!! Okay, here is how it goes; I am the baby of eight kids. I am the oldest of two. I am also an only child along with being a middle child. There is 20 years and more between me and my oldest siblings, and 3 years between me and my youngest brother. My stepsister is the same age, but I am older by a few months. Together there is 10 of us. But only 3 for my two younger siblings, and 8 for my older siblings. Is any of this making any sense to anyone? Im sure it really doesn’t to most. But there will be someone out there that this clicks with. Okay, for the explanation of the only child part. Since my older siblings were so much older than me, I grew up alone as my parents divorced and my mother remarried and had my little brother and they divorced and married my stepdad who has a daughter of his own how is only a few months younger than me. Since my older siblings are so much older than me and my younger siblings and I never really lived together, I grew up as an only child. As did my little brother. All my siblings are only my half excluding my stepsister for obvious reasons. So that also would make me biologically a half only child. Whoah, we are getting weird here. Anyways, so how does any of this apply to me?? That’s the million dollar question…….

    1. Quentin jones says:

      haha oder, i meant order

    2. Yes Quentin—You have an extremely unique birth order study on your hands! I don’t know if even Kevin Leman would know what to do with it, haha! 😉
      Thanks for sharing–and most importantly, stay grounded in what is good and right and it won’t really matter where you fall in the family! ALoha-

  28. Great post! My eldest is such a first born. And yes, gets so discouraged by criticism. My 3rd (of 4) is a 5.5yr gap from #2 and is a conflicted middle child/eldest child. Like he toilet trained himself at 2.5 and can completely empty the dishwasher at 4. But yet, needs constant attention from everyone around him. Thanks for the reminder of loving on each of our unique kids!!

  29. This was a great read. It becomes really interesting when you have first-born identical twins. One of ours (the one who jokingly says he’s the middle child by 15 min.) fits this first-born profile perfectly. His older twin is all of the birth orders woven together in an intense, wonderful, sometimes befuddling kid. Alone time with each of them is so important! Especially as they enter their teens, I’ve noticed the twin who is more first-born really needs all of those tips you mentioned. Thank you for the great reminder!

    1. I’ve wondered about the twin situation! Thanks for commenting! Love to hear how things unfold for families! Enjoy those teen years and aloha–

  30. My first born has an identical twin brother – they are only 2 minutes apart but they definitely fall into the rolls of first born and middle child (I also have a third younger child) Most of this holds true for my oldest twin – especially the controlling trait, wanting to be appreciated and the part about education (having 1 twin who tends to score higher when they are equally bright kids is challenging as a parent). But no clean room here! Thanks for the update on messy rooms – interesting perspective!

    1. Thank you Annie–Super interesting for me to hear about the twin situation! Sounds like a full and busy home! Aloha and enjoy-

  31. My husband (4th born) and I (3rd born): are both perfectionists with first born behaviors/tendencies. We have 5 children and All of them are also. They were all born between 2005-2010 so no age gaps that would create a new first born. Our house is super fun (insert sarcasm here). Very challenging when everyone’s view of what perfect is, isn’t the same.

  32. Christina says:

    My husband and I are both firstborns. I’m a neat freak and he’s a messy..I pick up after him. My oldest child..he is organize messy, but 2nd child she is a neat freak(only 10 months and 29 days apart), my middle child 3rd child(16 months between 2nd child) he is also a neat freak and 4th child is messy(13 months between 3rd child).

  33. I did give my firstborn lots of responsibility, but I also made certain to reward her abundantly. The other children understood that with much responsibility comes many privileges. As older children left, the same applied to the”new” eldest child. It’s worked out well and there hasn’t been resentment.

  34. i am a first born and I find myself being a frustrated perfectionist.. You were right ! If I can’t keep it perfect, I leave it messy.. I’ve often wondered why am I like this??

  35. really enjoyed reading your thoughts on firstborns and middle children. just a little confused though, you mentioned in both articles that “over half of US presidents were firstborns” and “over half of US presidents were middle children” … just a little non-essential i picked up on … lol. thanks for the advice!

    1. Thank you Annie–Maybe you missed the PS “Post-publish note” about your question. You might go back and have a look. I did get both facts from the same source, so I gave the best explanation I could come up with! Aloha and thanks for stopping by!

      1. ah, yes i see it now-thank you for the clarification! you handled it with such grace and gentleness so thank you for this also. i do apologize for being so flippant and missing the mark.

  36. My first born is definitely not part of the mold, does nothing without complaining, is not self driven, needs constant attention, is strong-willed.

  37. Dawn Tull says:

    I am a first born. I have two boys. Eight years apart. So I guess we have three first borns in our house. (My husband is the baby of his siblings.)

  38. How interesting! I have always thought that my eldest (girl) was a little mini-me of my husband, but now I am wondering if maybe it’s just not because they are both first born (actually he is an only). I am the baby in my family and quite a bit more laid back (some would say, ahem, lazy) than either of them. I actually own that book, but have never read it. Getting ready to have baby #4 and I think it could be a great resource! Loved the post.

  39. As a middle child, I think those are things every child needs. Every child needs alone time with mom and dad, approval, encouragement and to be noticed. I felt my older sibling got a whole lot of that because she was the squeaky wheel and because I was quiet and reserved I didn’t. Just my two cents.

  40. Omgosh this totally spoke to me! so true, except for one thing…..being a firstborn, I can tell you I am not very neat. My room and car is mess almost all the time. You took the words out of my mouth saying firstborns are pleasers, reliable, want to be noticed, and cautious. Yes–I constantly worry, and try to be responsible to the rules and feel like I want to be there for a lot of people and I try to please others. And it can be stressing. My other sister (2nd oldest) she is a lot cleaner than I am.

  41. My husband and I are firstborns and our son is also a firstborn (obviously, since he is our first child). Our daughter is the only one in the house that is NOT a firstborn, so it gets interesting when we all want things done our own way!

  42. Etta Beaida says:

    I sure wish I had this kind of sounding board when I was raising my 2 sons. My first is really a “first” born. What I didn’t see in this post was how they take everything onto their shoulders. I was for ever telling my 1st, “you can not fix everything”, all you can expect of yourself and all I expect of you is your best. I would say to him, “as long as you like what you see in the mirror, you’ve done your best!!! My question is what of a 2nd and last boy born? Let me say I could not be more proud of both of them, each have their own wonderfulness!!(if that’s a word?!) Thanks for listening…I’m curious because my son has 2 boys….same birth order… Thanks again, Etta

  43. My firstborn definately fits the list to a tee. With myself also being a first born, we but heads a lot because we are both trying to be the leader. She has a younger brother (6 1/2 years younger than her) that because of the age gap is considered a first born too. Then of course their father is 6 1/2 years younger than his sister, which also considers him a first born. So in this family of four we have four first born, and boy do we but heads sometimes, but we all survive by the grace of God. My husband and I are 5 1/2 years apart and have been together for 24 years, married 22, and our children are 15 and 8. Smiles and take care! 🙂

  44. I have 2 first born children. I tell people I have 2 “only” children. They arrived 12 years apart and although they do have a great relationship, they are both first borns through and through. I was a first born also, and all of this rings so true with each of us. I LOVE Dr. Kevin Leman’s writings! He is quite humorous. Have you read his book “Making Children Mind Without Losing Yours?”

  45. Heather Abshire says:

    I loved this! I have 3 kids, ages 68&9 and this fits them to a T! my husband and I are first horns, and yes we fit that description Lol my parents are both middles and are just as you describe in your middle children blog. this was convicting in some areas that I need to be more sensitive but encouraging in other ways that we had already taken certain steps that you suggested.
    I greatly enjoyed your writing
    Heather Abshire

  46. My oldest two reversed roles big time! My theory is that this is common with an 1st boy, 2nd girl who are close in age.

  47. Jessica Johnston says:

    Good stuff! I’m a first born and most my growing up fell into the “failed perfectionist” category in the area of cleanliness- and I still have symptoms of messiness 🙂 my first born is oh-so-responsible and all the other things you described, but he isn’t organized either.

  48. My 1st born tends to do the bare minimum just to skim by. Whether it’s shoving stuff on his floor under his bed to “clean his room,” or with school work using incomplete sentences, because writing a complete thought takes way too much time and energy, or on the sports field only exerting energy if the ball is RIGHT by him, or wanting to be a guitar player but without practicing. I definitely do not see, nor expect perfection, but I do expect him to try ……unfortunately, as we parents all know, trying their best usually only comes if it’s something they like to do! With my 1st born, he is not bossy, but we have instilled in him not to boss his brothers around; that it’s our jobs as parents to tell his siblings what they can and can’t do…..the oldest is to be a supportive brother, not the parent. But our oldest is definitely more sensitive to mom & dad’s praise, is very intelligent, and with age becoming more reliable and responsible. So, some of the stats fit my child while others do not. Thanks for writing this interesting article.

  49. So well said! My first born is a classic and shows all the symptoms…I mean, traits! I realized that I have never officially told him that he doesn’t need to be responsible for everyone and everything…your article has encouraged me to do that today!

  50. I miscarried my first baby at 3 months and a year and a half later delivered my first child. He is highly intelligent, but a slob, doesn’t care about the details is primarily focused on the big picture. So if a subject, say Geometry, is difficult, he rationalizes that he will never use this math so he doesn’t give it effort. My second child is a girl and it would seem is a first born with textbook first-born traits. But both equally need the same things listed. I thought first born children had those traits if they were also different sexes? I might need a refund for the first born! Clothes on the floor, a million damp towels in various stages of decay alongside snack trash, the retainer in his bed after he leaves for school?!! Interesting read!!

  51. I was laughing as I read this post. My daughter (& me as well!) is our first born. And while her and I share some similar traits, some we do not… And those are the ones that are maddening for me. She keeps her room…. As if a monkey lives in there. If I let it get too bad, you can’t see the floor, papers of “projects” are spewed everywhere, clothes are shoved in every corner and under every piece of furniture. THIS is a trait I do not share with her. And this is where I struggle with a balance of not expecting perfectionism, yet also wanting to teach her responsibility. Because unfortunately, in this first born’s mind (mine), responsibility is almost equal to perfectionism. *sigh. I am definitely always a work in progress.

  52. Except that my oldest won’t try lots of things unless he thinks he will get it right the first time he doesn’t fit the oldest profile at all. Our younger son who is 7 years younger fits it very well.

    Our children are adopted and I have often wondered how biological birth order plays a role. Neither of our children are biological first born children but our oldest would fit the “new family oldest” (over 4-5 year age gap between him and older biological sibling) idea in his birth family as well and yet still very little like a first born. Our younger only fits the “new family oldest” (because he is 7 years younger than adopted older brother) in our family but he is very much like an oldest child. I will say that neither of our children have ever met other biological siblings so our oldest hasn’t had an older sibling around to give him a sense that he is not the oldest either. Very interesting thing to think about.

    Would love to know if other parent of adopted children experience what seems like birth order confusion in adopted children.

  53. This is absolutely NOT my firstborn. She is disorganized, impulsive and forgetful. I’m sure that this is because she has been diagnosed with ADHD. The one characteristic that fits is “controlling.” While birth order can have an influence on personality, I think it’s more important to remember that each of our children is different, with individual needs. Besides my eldest with ADHD, I have a severely disabled middle child, and a typically developing youngest. By far, my youngest has more characteristics of the ‘oldest’ child. Learning to meet each of their needs, as individuals has been far more effective for me than just trying to follow a checklist.

  54. My firstborn is nothing like this–at all! This describes my middle child more and they are only 22 months apart.

  55. I’m a 1st born, HAPPILY married to the baby of the family. We complete each other, I feel the birth order assists in that! I AM 1 of the messiest humans on earth, hubby a neatnic. My demeanor is happy, thrive on houseful of Family & Friends, good cook!However, when I do ‘turn it on’ everything has to be perfect! Flowers just right, accessories, perfectly placed! As 1st born, I feel responsible to help my loved ones & friends, @ any cost. I’m devastated, feel as if I’ve let them down, if I can’t fix it for them. At times I feel the weight if the world on my shoulders w/ self imposed uber sense of responsibility! I joke that there should be a ‘dummy, 1st born, baby girl’ passed around the universe for all to Practice on & place some of the responsibility, on HER! D.M.

  56. Such a great article. It seems that everything comes easily for my firstborn, music, academics, sports, etc. so I tend to forget that she struggles with other things. So interesting to read about them struggling with relationships. I love ” steering them towards excellence, not perfection”. Also helping them with the pros and cons of their unique personalities. Now I need to go read your post about middle children.

  57. My first born does not follow these traits!! But he does have the needs you gave, but it’s hard to give him that since he is the oldest of five (4 boys). He is my most difficult child!! I am trying to let him deal with the real life consequences of his choices since he’s in his early teens and it is hard to watch him make mistakes. My husband is a first born and I am a second born. My second born son is much more organized, helpful, neat, and conscientious.

  58. Christina says:

    So our first born definitely is a text book first born. And my husband is a first born, and has some of these traits. As where I am 2nd born (baby) and I see a lot of myself in this article. I do struggle with the I’ll do it myself when it comes to teaching my children chores. But it was an amazing article.

  59. You are right on! Our first born has all the traits you mentioned! We have three boys and they are all so unique in their own way. I never thought about the first born being so different until reading this! Great read!

  60. A firstborn….parenting an only. lol. Thanks for the fresh insights. 🙂

  61. I am an only child and I guess some of this sounds like me. Except I’m an organized chaos kinda girl…my mom hates it. She was 5 years younger then her brother so maybe she started the birth order over again (I can’t say my uncle was also a perfectionist) however I’m ok with just living…now my oldest, my first born doesn’t seem to fit in here. He is unsure of himself, complains a lot about everything, always wants mom and dad time but won’t show up for it(cause being with his friends are more important) and then complains cause he missed out etc. I am definitely too hard and have too high expectations on him which I need to work on. However I can see through the greyish clouds we have right now a glimpse of this perfectionist…this little boy who aims to please and could fit into some of these characteristics. I suppose reading this birth order book might be interesting for me! Thanks 🙂

  62. Spot on for my 1st born (daughter). My husband always says how much we are alike, which is odd since I’m the youngest of 3. My siblings would tell you that I’m a total “youngest child”. Maybe that is because there is 4.5 years between us, resulting in me acting like a 1st born when independent of them, but still fall back into youngest child tendencies when together?

    1. Yes Vicki–that sounds a bit like me as well. Fascinating how all of the variables affect things! Aloha and thanks for stopping in-

  63. This was amazing and so very needed. It truly put perspective on my constant attention / approval seeking almost 6 yr old. I’m early on in the game and have been really struggling how to deal with him. These tips are game changers 🙂

    1. Thank you Becky! So glad to hear that! 🙂 Much aloha to you–

  64. Om a first born…im nit a neat freak, id rather not clean but as cluttered as my room or house maybe, i know exactly where everything is…so it may appear cluttered to some but its actually quite organized…in my own chaotic way…my son is my furst born and he appears to be just like me…my daughter is my second born and she likes a tidier room…

    1. Oh my forgive my typos…

      1. No problem! I loved your comment and I’m just glad the perfectionist firstborn in you can let it go…haha. 🙂

  65. Om a first born…im nit a neat freak, id rather not clean but as cluttered as my room or house maybe, i know exactly where everything is…so it may appear cluttered to some but its actually quite organized…in my own chaotic way…my son is my furst born and he apoears to be just like me…my daughter is my second born and she likes a tidier room…

  66. I haven’t studied too much about birth order so this is interesting for me.

    Just wanted to point out that the middle child article says “over half of the American Presidents have been middle children” and this article states “Over half of U.S presidents were firstborns.” One of those is probably right, but, um, not both! 🙂

    1. Hey Sarah=Thank you for commenting! I just added a post-publish PS addressing your question, because a few of you have brought it up! Please have a quick look and hope it helps! 🙂 Aloha=

  67. I thought I’d let you know that my first born (son) does have most of these traits. And my daughter, second child and the baby, is the exact opposite. Where he’s neat, she’s messy. He makes his own path, she follows trends. Not that he’s not social, but that did happen more as he got older and went to college, but he was more introverted growing up and she was always playing outside or at a friends home. He can be alone and has a huge imagination, my daughter likes to be around people and needs stimulation. He excelled in school, she….struggled. My son graduated from college with two full degrees, in 4 years, and has just finished his first year of grad school at NYU. My daughter decided not to go to college and is a barista working on finding herself. She did complete aesthetician school and will be taking her state board in a month or so.
    However, they do have the same morals and ethics. As they’ve gotten older (he’s 22 and she’s 20) that line is less black and white and more blurred. He’s loosened up and she’s matured.
    I am extremely proud of my firstborn’s achievements and always have, but I admire and love how free spirited my daughter is. They are two separate beings and I love them both for all the reasons they are different from each other.

  68. Diana Harris says:

    Ha! We have 7 children… a boy 15, followed by 4 sisters and 2 little brothers. And he is nothing like the typical firstborn! He is scattered but smart, messy, forgetful, sweet but terribly stubborn, and happy with average work and outcomes. Our oldest girl 12, on the other hand, fits the typical firstborn description perfectly!!!

  69. My firstborn has been the very typical first born with everything but his room. It’s like that’s the one place he can relax in. He’s also developing anxiety and consequently depression from the pressure he constantly puts on himself. We have never even put a feathers worth of pressure on him because he does it himself. I pray he can start to relax a little before he leaves for college. My second born though (girl) has totally taken on first born traits and is very much a people pleaser and cleans her room everyday and even started washing all of her own clothes herself without me even asking. Child 3, a girl, is VERY messy but very artsy and crafts and sews and plays the piano, cooks full meals for the family (she’s 12) and is hilarious. Child 4 (boy) is nervous and will be the head safety monitor somewhere some day, he puts pressure on himself very much too. Child 5 (boy) is 6 1/2 years younger than number 4 (our surprise blessing) and he is wheels off, like swinging from the chandelier kind of kid. Maybe it’s more of an in born personality as to who you are more than birth order? Mine seem kinda jumbled and have traits from oldest, middle and youngest. Or maybe we are just us and God gave us kids to fit in our crazy family!!

  70. super spot on! Our son is exactly like this. Both my husband and I were first-born and so I can really connect with your article. Thanks for the guidelines…they are insightful! I do rely on him to be responsible, etc. That said, I do need to give him a break and let him “self-correct” on his own.

  71. My husband and I are both firstborns and we each have a sister a few years younger. We have one child, a 6yo boy and he certainly displays some of the traits you’ve described: perfectionist, conscientious, controlling, cautious. However, he definitely does not keep his room clean or clean up after himself. he rarely wants to do or help with anything. He likes to say no. These are things I’d like him to change. Do you have any advice for us?

  72. Susie Morgan says:

    Totally nailed my oldest son!

  73. Birth order is so fascinating to me! I think a lot of the traits are right on, at least where my husband (who is a first born) is concerned. I can see some of the same traits in our son but he’s only 2, so I’m sure there are still traits left to be revealed. Me, I’m a classic middle child through and through. 😉

  74. This is a great article! Interestingly, my first girl (third child after two boys) is my over-achiever! My oldest doesn’t have all of the qualities of a first born or at least not as many as she does. So sometimes if you have several children and the first couple are the same sex, the next child born the opposite sex can take on similar characteristics of a first born. They are just the “first born” girl or boy in your family;)

  75. This is SPOT ON! I am a firstborn and aside from the clean-freak tendencies (the post-publish note is me to a T), this fits me exactly. I think my perfectionism definitely manifests itself in “organized chaos” in some areas, yet others (such as projects, cooking, baking, creative outlets) I must have everything organized, perfect, and my way.

  76. This is my first born! She is an amazing girl!!! I wish I was more like her in many ways. But I’m the baby of my family 🙂
    Every trait listed fits her!

  77. I enjoyed reading this and your middle child post. I am the oldest of three girls. My middle sister and I each have a mixture of first and middle-born traits. Our youngest sister is most definitely the bubbly, lighthearted baby. My 2 children are 3 and 1 and seem to be very typical of their birth order. One thing I noticed is that both of your posts stated that over half of the US presidents were the birth order that your post (firstborn and middle) was focusing on. I’m curious which statement is the correct one (that’s my firstborn perfectionism kicking in !).

    1. Thank you Amy!
      Someone else pointed that out too…So I’ll go double check but both of the stats came from the same source, so I’m not sure, haha! 🙂
      (I said before that maybe that means there have been NO youngest children as presidents!:)) Actually, I do believe that a number of presidents were in big families were they fit more than one birth order…Like #3 out of 9, but there was a big gap between #2 and #3. There is a whole section in Kevin Leman’s book about the presidents, so I’ll double check! 🙂 Aloha!

  78. Our firstborn, is a firstborn from two firstborns. He has a triple dose. A triple dose of the positive and negative. As firstborns raising a firstborn we have an advantage in raising him, but still so important to remember he’s not us and he has his own personality and ways too.

  79. I am a first-born, and like many commenters here, I found it to be eerily accurate, except for the neatness factor. My idea of “neat” is when I know where everything is, even if it looks to others like total chaos. And when I want to organize, I tend to go overboard in my utter need for perfection. My daughter, first-born of my two kids, is very similar to me, but she keeps a tighter rein on the perfectionism, and she’s much more self-driven than I am. There are nearly 5 years between my two kids, so the remark about “starting over” with birth order traits when there are 5-6 years or more between children really opened my eyes. My kids both exhibit the tendencies typically shown by first-born kids, which has made it challenging for them to get along through the years. While I’m no happier about the frequent lack of sibling camaraderie between them, it made some sense for the first time.

  80. Loved your post on birth order. I just have two boys. My first-born doesn’t seem to fit the traditional mold. At 13 I can often find his clothes all over the upstairs and his backpack is often a disaster zone. He is very bright and intellectual and competitive in school and sports but not always self-motivated. His 9 year old little brother often seems much more responsible. He has a great sense of humor and we certainly love them both the same.

  81. dfulton12 says:

    I am a firstborn, married to a firstborn (a supposed no-no, but we totally make it work). We have two kids. Both are messy. I am messy while my husband likes things nice and neat. I consider myself a frustrated perfectionist. (If I can’t do it perfectly, why do it at all?) My firstborn daughter is the same way and it makes me crazy! My youngest born son is a laid back cuddler, so he naturally gets more one on one time with me; definitely something I need to work on. But, we get along better because he is my opposite — probably why my youngest born mother and I got along so much better than she and my little sister. Thank you for this!

  82. Oh yes so true! I am a first born as well!! One thing that I teach my first born is its ok if others are different and don’t work the same as you. The perfection and controlling part of the personality can really cause un-needed emotional stress. She is learning grace right now and that her sisters and brothers are different then her. Something I wasn’t taught and as an adult I had to learn. Not so easy when your married :/

  83. As a first born child of a first born child who is also married to a first born child, I completely relate, except for the neat freak. My husband and I neither one are perfect neat freaks. But, as I get older I find myself not able to go to bed if my kitchen isn’t clean. And making sure things are at least put away. But I do think that is,more for our curious toddler than for my birth order. I wish my parents had read about parenting when I was growing up. My brother is almost 9 years younger, and I was constantly responsible for babysitting, and caring for him in general. Also, meals and laundry from 13 years old were mostly my responsibility. My brother, has never learned how to do those things. He went straight from my mom or me taking care of him to his wife do it. I don’t know how much I agree about 6 year or more age gap starting a new “family” or “birth order”. At least that’s not how it worked in my family. My brother was always the baby. Even when I moved out and he was only 10, he was still babied and cared for like a youngest child. And like you mentioned, did not do chores with out complaining or the expectation momentary compensatuon. Same with my hubands family. He is the oldest of 4 boys. Between the last 2 there is a 9 year gap. His youngest brother is 14, my husband turns 30 today. And the 14 year old is still treated like a youngest child. He has least amount of responsibility compared to any of the other boys. And if deffintly the whiniest and most emotional. Just some of my personal observations.

  84. This article says that over half of US Presidents were firstborn. Your article about middle kids says that over half of US Presidents were middle kids. Oops! : ) Just wanted to point that out. Loved the articles!!!

    1. Haha! Thanks for pointing out. My info came from the same source too! ☺️ There must have been no youngest children as Predidents!? ;). Anyways, Aloha, and thanks for stopping in

  85. This so describes our first born! ! Thank you for sharing! I see some areas we need to work on with ours.

  86. My first born does not fit most of those characteristics. While he is a pleaser and natural leader he doesn’t enjoy cleaning and he’s very forgetful and unreliable to take care of his younger sister and brother. Actually his sister, the middle child is the one who has more of a first born characteristics. She’s more independent, reliable and neat compared to my oldest. Even my youngest is a great helper around the house without complaining so much like my oldest. I think part of my oldest behavior has to do with being the spoiled one because he was the first baby and he got the most attention and most gifts and everything new. ..no hand downs. I would say my oldest son is like Raymond in “Everybody loves Raymond ” because of his bubbly personality and good sense of humor everybody loves him.

  87. Great reminders! I needed those! We are a family of 5, all with first born, or first born traits! I am first born, my husband first born male, and then our birth order is boy-girl-boy. We all like to be in control and have solutions for everything! This usually makes us a grand mess! But we have a lot of fun with our differing views!

  88. Stephanie says:

    Thanks for sharing this. I hate to label my kids so I haven’t read much on birth order, although it is fascinating that so many of the qualities fit for the majority. I am technically a middle child, but have 10 yrs between my older sister and I, so I guess I also fit into the oldest child category. I have four kids and being that there are differences in each family line up, I see my oldest ( my only girl) have a lot of the the first born qualities, but my second born ( who is the oldest of the three boys) has a lot of the same first-born qualities. In fact I would say he is my most reliable, but not as driven or out going as my daughter. The two younger boys sound like your two youngest. Such a battle to get them to do anything around the house. So fun to read everyone’s comments on their family dynamics too. Thanks again for starting some good conversation!

  89. While my oldest son definitely is NOT a perfectionist – he’s too much like his first born parents who are ‘just get it done’ kind of people, drives his teacher crazy – I think everything you suggested is still completely applicable. He craves parental approval, big time. He needs that special alone time. He needs a break, he is my best worker so I also tend to load him up with jobs because he gets it done (my other 3 also whine and complain throughout the entire chore process, or giggle and play around and don’t anything done)! This is a great reminder to take it easy on him once in a while 🙂

  90. spot on for my first born and for myself as first born. I enjoy these posts…. Thank you!

  91. I am a textbook first born and am fascinated by the birth order (I, too, have Dr. Leman’s book) but my first born/only child has more of a third born personality which drives me nuts!! While I am looking for hints of first born traits … He’s busy avoiding chores like the plague, doing all he can to make his friends laugh and would lose his head if it weren’t attached! LOL
    However, he is great with adults – they have always enjoyed being around him and he is a pleaser and very compliant (for the most part) so he is a relatively easy kid … It’s just the leadership, perfectionism and go get ’em attitude and effort that he’s lacking (you know — the important stuff of the only child .. haha) and it completely baffles me.

  92. Thanks for the great read! I love th idea of both my husband and I making time to be alone with our oldest together.
    My oldest fits the mold: driven, responsible, and very comfortable with adults. He is interested in trying and joining every club and sport. He is a rule follower to the extreme, causing his grandma to remark that you never have to worry about what the pack of cousins is up to with C around, he’ll stop any nonsense! While that is simply meant to be a cute comment by his grandma, I worry he is afraid to just be a kid. For years I said I didn’t want Nerf guns, toy guns,etc. in the house. Along came Dad’s best buddy who gifted them some fun Nerf toys. A year later C is still a little unsure about playing with them even though we’ve said they are old enough now. He just wants to be sure he is doing the right thing…

  93. My brother and I most certainly switched places. He def acts more like the middle kid. My oldest boy does got the mold except for the cleaning part! Ugh. We do have to work with him to do his best but not worry about being perfect. Also to try new things. He isn’t a big fan of trying something he’s not already good at. Great article Monica!

  94. this is EXACTLY my oldest son. I am also guilty of allowing him to take on more than I should. He wants to try everything and do everything. He overwhelms himself sometimes and we have to be better about making him slow down. That’s hard for me because I am first also and want him to do and be great at everything too! Lol

  95. I just love Leman’s book and for the most part, my first born (a boy) is a textbook firstborn. Total perfectionist, he is his own worst enemy. He is very particular about his stuff and the order it goes in (like his shoes). I remember his second grade teacher telling me he was a perfectionist and now he’s 22! It’s been a struggle at times. I am a first born and so is my husband. My son and I are close now and he will be the one to call home to check on me or he will use some minor reason to call just to talk. He is such a blessing.

  96. You just described my first born perfectly as well as all the things I need to remind myself NOT to do with my ever obliging son…thanks for the timely reminder.

  97. Sheena Carnie says:

    Spot on, as usual, Monica. My first-born and I (also a firstborn) share many of the traits you mentioned. I know from experience as the first born that it can be tiresome always being the responsible one, the one every one counts on – the “good child”, so I really try not to play too heavily on that with my first born, but we do still expect more of him because he’s the responsible one and tend to ask him to do things that we know his younger brother will moan about. Not fair, I know. Thanks for a great blog. xxx