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A Theory of Sibling Birth Order



By: Grace Gao


My friend always claimed to feel invisible in her own home. She was a middle child, often overshadowed by her older and younger sister. In no way was she a bad student or a lazy child; she got good grades in school and was always motivated to do better. However, she constantly insisted she wasn’t as pretty or intelligent as her sisters. I often thought that this made her rather meek and submissive. She was used to being obscured and never spoke out against anyone. Around other people, she was often shy and didn’t like attention.


Hearing this, I began to see some of the effects of birth order on my sister’s and my personalities. In my family, I grew up with a younger sister. I was always more open to new things and ready to face activities confidently. On the other hand, my sister preferred to be in her comfort zone. Straying out of it was dangerous and came with the possibility of looking dull or dimwitted. My sister also loved to please. She agreed with everything my parents said and did many things solely to satisfy them. On the other hand, I was more of a rebellious spirit. Before pleasing others, I always ensured I was happy, sometimes arrogantly.


These significant differences in personalities stemmed from how we grew up. As the first child of my generation in my family, I was pampered by my parents and grandparents from a young age. Despite still being in college at the time and struggling with a lower income, my parents always ensured that I got all the playthings and attention I could ever need or want. My wardrobe overflowed with frilly dresses and poofy skirts. In short, I was spoiled. From a young age, I always got my way, and as I grew up, I was determined to continue doing things my way. As a result, I was very stubborn, and once I set my heart on something, nothing could stop me.


On the other hand, my sister was the last child born in our family. My parents didn’t spoil her as they did with me, and they tried to begin her education as soon as possible, finding classes and extracurriculars for her to attend. My sister grew up under high expectations from my parents. As a result, she became eager to please. Praise was of high value to her but not to me.


We both grew up in the same family and the same household, but we turned out to be very different because of the order in which we were born.

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