Group Post

Siblings—Oh, Brother!

We may not want to admit it, but sibling order within our families can affect our personalities for life–and even our worldviews as writers. Read on to find out where each of us Chicks fits in–and whether our “special” traits fit the chart!

 

Ellen Byron

11

I’m the oldest in my family and the only girl. I’m not gonna lie, this has made me a bit of a golden child. But it’s also heaped a lot of responsibility on me. The rest of the family expects me to take the lead in a lot of decisions, but that doesn’t mean they’re happy about the choices I make. I find sibling order fascinating because it’s a great aspect of creating character. In fact, I have a screenshot of how birth order breaks down on my desktop (see photo). I like the positive boxes that I tick off as the firstborn: “natural leader, high achiever, on time.” But I also must own to the negatives: “know-it-all, bossy, adult pleaser.” At least my brothers would make me own these qualities. Especially “bossy.”


Lisa Q. Mathews

CotC Word balloons

I don’t have a brother, though I pestered my mom nonstop for one until I learned exactly how baby brothers came to be.  I’m a hybrid, actually—Youngest and Only—because my sister is 16 years older and we had very different childhoods. She knew my parents when they were very young, both fresh from the Navy and starting out in life. Because of my dad’s job, she moved a lot and attended a different school practically every year. She married early and settled across the country, starting her own family by the time I was six.  I guess you could say I had a fair amount of “Me” time with my parents—maybe a little too much. But I had plenty of time to read, and my mom was a librarian, so that worked out well. I adored school, not because I was a budding scholar, but for the opportunity to socialize with other kids. I would like to claim all the best traits from both categories, because I am neither demanding nor financially irresponsible. Well, most of the time, anyway.

 

 Marla Cooper

CotC Marla Cooper

I’m the baby of the family. And while it’s no big surprise that we crave attention, it makes perfect sense. By the time the third or fourth kid is born, parents are no longer impressed by normal kid stuff. (“Oh my God, look, he’s walking! He’s so evolved! He said ‘Dada.’ I bet he’s going to be a writer.”) While firstborns almost always have a baby book to commemorate every last second of their development, later kids can get overlooked. My parents don’t remember what time I was born or what my first words were, because nobody thought to document it at the time. And it takes a lot to stand out among your siblings, who are already years ahead of you developmentally. So what’s a younger sibling to do for attention? You put on your tutu and yell, “Look what I can do!” while you juggle bowling balls and crack jokes. Yeah, sometimes we’re kind of annoying. But that’s what little brothers and sisters are for.


Vickie Fee

vickieI’m not sure the traditional traits assumed by first-born children apply to me. Natural leader, organized, high achiever, punctual—all better describe my sister, who falls between me and baby brother in the birth order. While we were dating, my husband, as an only child, was fascinated by my sibling relationships. One conversation in particular stands out. We were having a family dinner at my parents’ home. My sister was whining about how bad middle children have it, a favorite complaint of hers. She said something like, “Middle children have deep-seated emotional problems because they were ignored as children.” Without missing a beat and while shoveling mashed potatoes onto his plate, little brother shot back, “Maybe they were ignored as children because they had deep-seated emotional problems.” The conversation moved on and none of us gave it another thought. But, as I later learned, my future husband was taken aback by the casual but good-natured (for the most part) sniping that is typical of the sibling experience. At least in my family.


Cynthia Kuhn

cynthiaOldest here (insert sound of bones creaking). Some of the characteristics listed apply, but not all. For example, right below “obeys the rules,” I think it should say “rebels against rules”; many of the first-borns I know have a love/hate relationship with them. As in: we feel compelled to follow rules until we think we can see a better way of doing things. Then we want to change the rules, and if no one agrees with our Much Improved Rule Replacement, then we might be inclined to openly rebel. My sister, the youngest, is incredibly creative and super funny, plus a thousand other wonderful things. (Yes, I know that third thing is not listed on the chart. Also, I reject the negatives in that category, which do not apply. See? Rebellion.)

 


Readers, what was your place in the family–and does our handy sibling chart describe you?

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22 thoughts on “Siblings—Oh, Brother!

  1. I can’t see the chart — is that a trait of a middle child or a hinky browser? I’m the middle child of five girls. I think I would pretty much be all over the board ~

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  2. I didn’t get the chart either, but I’m the oldest and the only girl, like Ellen. I CAN be bossy, but try to control it. It is frustrating sometimes that other people don’t realize I know all the answers, though. Having brothers taught me to be VERY good at baseball dodge-ball (dodging, never learned to throw well, but I can bat) and also good at breaking wrestling holds when my little brother was practicing on me for the team.

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    • LOL, Kaye! One thing that really helped me with my bossiness is this question someone once put to me: would you rather be happy or right? Now I choose happy. But some people close to me don’t abide by this and constantly go for “right,” which is very annoying.I just have to remind myself of MY choice. Hey, I think I have an idea for a future blog post…

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  3. I am the first born, but my brother is seven years younger than I am. I’m not very punctual. I’m the world’s most indecisive person (I think). And my brother is very responsible with money. Those are the ones that stand out the most, but I’m not sure that either really apply to us.

    Liked by 3 people

    • “world’s most indecisive person (I think)” 🙂

      I also reject a lot of the traits. ‘Course the chart would say that’s because I’m a know-it-all. But that seems like a built-in defeater…kind of like when you’re in an argument and someone says “You just want to have the last word.” Which gives them the last word.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Mark, my sister is five years younger and my brother nine years younger than I. Being so spread out, I think changes the sibling dynamic — and chart accuracy. I feel confident making that observation as a first-born know-it-all 🙂

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    • Mark, now that I’ve gotten to know you a little, I find you neither non-punctual or indecisive! And you seem highly responsible to me. But with a seven-year age spread, some of the “only” characteristics may also apply to you.

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  4. I finally got a link where I can see the chart. Here’s something curious and it mostly corresponds to the chart. My two older children, both boys (my third is a girl who better fits the only child list), switched places. I’ve read that this can happen with trauma. My oldest was very ill in 4th grade and was given some medicines he was allergic and hypersensitive to. It was about that time that they switched. The oldest, who had always been a perfect student and had gotten the best grades, started to slack off in school (and kept doing it throughout his school career) and his mischievous little brother became the model kid, outdoing everyone at everything that he could. Until I read that article on switching places, I couldn’t figure out what was going on, but it meshes perfectly.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Wow, that’s fascinating. I think a lot of this has to do with how your parents treat you. My brother who’s the youngest doesn’t have any of those characteristics listed.

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  5. First is almost perfect, except he’s not particularly bossy and very competitive, but the second and last is way off. He’s creative, funny, but he’s the no-it-all and couldn’t care about pleasing anyone in authority. He does try to please his parents, however. 🙂 There are always exceptions to rules. The competitive nature of the first one had a lot to do with how the second one responded. Need I say they are not good friends.

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    • Your edit gives away that you’re a writer, Polly! I hate it when it won’t allow you to edit in comment boxes.

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  6. Marla, my mother once handed each of us three siblings the manila envelopes in which she’d stuffed our specific childhood photos. (She was never organized on that score.) I got a big fat one, my middle brother got a less fat one, and my youngest got a skinny, almost empty envelope. Luckily, he had a sense of humor about it!

    Liked by 1 person

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