I spent 2 of my high school years in Carbondale, Colorado. It was beautiful. But, that is another post for another day. Anyway, on a flight from Denver to Los Angeles, when I was about 15, I had a conversation with a woman who I will never forget. She talked to me about birth order and the significance it has on personality and life choices. Like me, she was the youngest child, and although she was probably about 30 years older than me, I found we had a lot of similar characteristics, and that we saw our older siblings in similar ways.
I was the youngest of 3. I say “was” because when I was 8, my Dad got married and I acquired 3 more older siblings. But, I think that the crux of the effects of coming in last, as I call it, occurred before my Dad even met my Step Mom.
There are circumstances surrounding my birth and childhood that had a huge effect on the course of my life, but still, for the most part, I think I am pretty much a quintessential youngest child. I am more rebellious than my brother and sister, as a child I had fewer restrictions, and was a generally free spirit. I didn’t bear the burdens that my siblings did, for being the best and the keeper of the peace. I was pretty much left to my own devices and spared the weight of lofty expectations. I was free to be who I was without constraints. My brother and sister hated me for it.
I can remember my brother telling me how they had to go to bed earlier than me when they were my age, that their punishments were more severe and that, unlike me, he and my sister were appropriately afraid of my mother. It’s true that I had no enforced bed time and my mom never spanked me, and it is true that I wasn’t afraid of my Mom. I believed that my siblings saw all of this as unfair, but it made me feel different and left out.
I have always felt that youngest children run a bit more wild because by the time they come around, the parents have loosened up a bit and also just don’t have the time or energy to dedicate to yet another kid. It is not the fault of the youngest, but somehow, we get blamed. We get called spoiled. We are resented and made to understand that we are not welcome. I remember my brother telling me that life was so much better before I came around, so much more fun. I remember wanting so much to be liked by my siblings, to feel like they were my friends, like I was part of the club, but I always felt like an outsider. I always came in last.
I know that every family is different and things happen that alter our family relationships, but most youngest children I have met are similar in so many ways. The same is true for oldest, middle and only children.
I am curious. I want to know how other people have experienced their own birth order, if they too see much of themselves in those who share their family placement. So, please, tell me about your experience as the youngest, middle, oldest or only child. I think it will be fascinating to see how we are all similar and different.