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What your birth order says about you

Roamers Therapy | August 2023

Have you ever wondered whether your birth order affects who you are? Or find yourself relating to people who are also the youngest, oldest, or middle child? While all families are unique, the placement within our family can sometimes tell us a lot about ourselves. This is typically because where we fall within our family system connects to the roles we take on and how we relate to those around us. This doesn’t mean that your birth placement or the fact that you are an only child will determine your entire personality. But, maybe it can give you some clues and validation about your formative childhood years and how the role you played in your family connects to your current relational patterns. 

 Oldest children can often be the guinea pigs and leaders of the pack. They might be seen as responsible and someone the younger siblings look up to. If you’re an oldest child, perhaps you found yourself helping take care of your younger siblings or maybe you felt a pressure to be high achieving since you were doing everything first. As an adult, these relational roles might show up in your drive to succeed or being a “mom” of your friend group. What does being an oldest child mean to you?

Middle children can frequently be seen as the peacemakers or fixers. When you were little, you may have always felt yourself stuck in the middle of your other siblings or attempting to repair family conflict. Perhaps you felt like a background character or unacknowledged because your parents’ attention went to your other siblings first. Or maybe you are the connector of your family system, bridging varying perspectives that arise all around you. As an adult, these relational qualities may show up in your people-pleasing tendencies or desire to solve problems. What does being a middle child mean to you? 

Youngest children can sometimes be viewed as the loudest ones of the crew to ensure they are heard even though they are last in line. They also may be seen as the sibling who always gets what they want because they are the “baby” of the family. If you are the youngest, maybe you found yourself getting annoyed when everyone else talked over you or wanting to be so different from your older siblings and forging your own path. As an adult, these tendencies may show up in relational frustration when you don’t have things your way or garnering attention because you don’t want to be ignored. What does being the youngest child mean to you?

Perhaps you resonate with some of these qualities or perhaps you find yourself not identifying with your birth order traits. Either way, it may be worth reflecting on how your role in your family system has impacted the person you have become. Upon reflection, you may realize that you participate in certain tendencies or behaviors that you are not fond of or that cause you further distress. If this is the case, it is important to give yourself grace and compassion. You now have a greater understanding that you are a function of a family system and that there are very real experiences in your upbringing that have shaped you and that is completely normal. You are noticing patterns or tendencies within yourself and that is the first step in overcoming the behavior. 

While our physical offices are located in South Loop and Lakeview neighborhoods in Chicago, Illinois for in-person sessions, we also welcome and serve clients for online therapy from anywhere in Illinois and Washington, D.C. Clients from the Chicagoland area may choose in-office or online therapy and usually commute from surrounding areas such as River North, West Loop, Gold Coast, Old Town, Lincoln Park, Lake View, Rogers Park, Logan Square, Pilsen, Bridgeport, Little Village, Bronzeville, South Shore, Hyde Park, Back of the Yards, Wicker Park, Bucktown and many more.