Firstborns, Only Children and the Later Born

Firstborns, Only Children and the Later Born Ver. 1.2.2

(Why to do they Always get Voted the Most Likely to Succeed in Medicine, Science and Politics?)

The Top Gun National Crises Troubleshooter, Retired

https://gadflyblog.com/tag/adlerian-psy/

http://thephilosopheronpolitics.wordpress.com/tag/adlerian-psy/

12/28/2015

Revised 2/8/2017

Copyright 2015

 

Introduction

The Firstborn and the Only Child have some common personality and skill packages that put them in good favor of being successful in medicine, science and politics.  The personality characteristics of the Only Child can somewhat be considered a super firstborn.  A short inventory of Doctors, Scientist, and Politicians reveals a significant population of Firstborn and Only Children.  Only children come in two varieties the Natural Only Child and the Functional Only Child.  The basic premises are that the Only Child grew up in their family of origin without the benefit of younger siblings to interact with.  Firstborns also come in different varieties: Firstborn, Firstborn Male, Firstborn Female and those who had at least five years separating them from their siblings.  Several of the past presidents of the USA were Functional Only Children as shown in the chart below.

Notable Leaders with Similar Families of Origin

Person of Interest Sibling Status[i] Leadership Roles
Abraham Lincoln Lost younger sibling at early age.  A functional only child. President of USA during Civil War
Theodore Roosevelt Lost younger brother at early age.  A functional only child. President of USA, Leader of The Rough Riders at San Juwan Hill.
Franklin D. Roosevelt Raised by mother/grandmother. A functionally only child President of USA for four terms.  Strengthened the US infrastructure.
Thomas Edison[ii] An only child Early American Inventor extraordinaire.
J. Edgar Hoover[iii] Older siblings greater than ten years.  A functional only child Head of the FBI for fifty years
Bill Clinton Raised up alone as a functional only child. President of the USA

 

 

George W. Bush Seven years between first son and second son President of the USA
Barak Obama Raised up alone as a functional only child. President of the USA

 

Vladimir Putin [iv] Natural only child Leader, Russia
Dr. Dobson[v] Natural only child Head of Focus on the Family
Teaching Pastor [vi] Natural only child Leader and teacher of a local church

Adlerian Psychology is the study of Birth-Order and it relationship to personality characteristics.  The foremost author in the late twentieth century and early twenty-first century is Dr. Kevin Leman.[vii]  Below is his chart of Firstborn personalities the benefits and handicaps.

Traits of a Firstborn[viii]

Trait Positive Aspects Negative Aspects
Perfectionist Does everything well Overly critical and dissatisfied with his own performance
Driven Ambitious, headed for success Always under great pressure
Organized Able to stay on top of everything No room in life for flexibility
Scholarly Able to think problems through and solve them Sometimes thinks too much; is overly serious
List Maker Get things done; knows where he’s going Boxes himself in; becomes a slave to his list
Logical Avoids pitfalls of compulsive behavior Knows he’s right even when he isn’t
Leader Plays an important part in his family, community, etc. Expected to do too much; always leaned on by others
Compliant Known as a good guy Known as an easy mark
Aggressive Gets ahead in life’ others look up to him Tends to be selfish and to disregard the feelings of others

 

Traits of Only Children [ix] (Super Firstborns)

Trait Positive Aspects Negative Aspects
Uncompromising Gets what they want Others do not get what they want
Communication Style “I want” this and “I want” that Others do not get what they want
Controlling Must be in control of all situations Others are left out of participating in the solutions
Must be the leader Natural take charge leaders Cannot follow some else’s lead

 

 

In charge of their life Knows where they are going Does not always know how to get where they want to go or accept nontraditional methods
Trusts in Tradition Steady guiding force of the proven whether successful or not; trusts the existing paradigm Not receptive to out-of-the-box thinking; will reject a new paradigm
Non-Negotiator They get what they want No experience in negotiating a “Workable Compromise” with another sibling
Successful against all odds “They can be anything they want to be” “Their mother or grandmother”. Good examples of “The Peter Principle” ( promoted above their capabilities)
Criticism Criticizes self for improvement to perfection Criticizes others.  “Judge and what every measure you use to judge, so shall you be judged.” [x]
Pays attention to the details Advantageous in Science, Engineering and Medicine Can get bogged down in the details striving for perfection
Long range planners Can make detailed plans for the future of an organization Gets committed to his plan and unwilling to change course.
Likes structure Scheduling/Planning/Structure is paramount Does not do well with spontaneous  opportunities
Prefers association with more mature adults Grew up alone with adults, therefore is comfortable with more mature adults Misses out on some play time with adults in their age group.
Approval seeking “Look what I have done by myself” Works better alone than with a group

 

Discussion

The largest difference between the Firstborn in the family and the Only-Child is their interaction and competition for their parent attention with their siblings.  The Firstborn with siblings is often put in charge of the younger siblings and develops leadership skills and sensitivity to the feelings of their siblings.  They are often responsible for organizing the games they will play together and setting the rules of the games.  The Firstborns will develop a parental role towards their younger siblings looking after them and protecting them.  This will usually manifest itself in a “Tell Assertive” communicative style where they usually assert themselves by telling other what to do.   It’s little wonder that this family pecking order is reestablished in the workplace.  The Only-Child misses out on these interactions with siblings; this could be a natural or a functional Only-Child (one who lost their siblings early in life or was isolated from them in different ways) and comes into the workforce with a individualistic communication style (It’s all about me).

To meet the demands of their younger siblings, the Firstborn must learn the art of “negotiating workable compromises”, the Only-Child is not afforded this opportunity.  The Only-Child has no competition for their parent’s attention and is often made to think they are the most important person on the planet (which from their parents point of view they are the most important person on the planet).  The Firstborn has this position of being the most important person on the planet for a short period of time until the second child is born.  They get read to sleep at night and spend time alone with their parents for this short time, than the competition arrives and their exclusive access to their parents change and the amount of time the parents can focus on each child changes.  This can be shown experimentally by examining the forensic evidence in the family photo album.  There one can find many photos of the Firstborn alone, but the rest of the siblings are photographed with “The Gang” with the exception of the Lastborn who gets some individual attention from their parents when their siblings have left the nest.

The Middleborn

The middle kids usually develop good negotiating skills, they have had to establish “Their Space” between an older sibling and a younger sibling and keeping the peace between the older and younger sibling especially if all are the same sex.  This negotiating skill will manifest itself in an “Ask Assertive” communication style where they learn how to maintain control and the peace by asking questions to assert themselves over their siblings and coworkers.  They often find themselves in middle management positions keeping the peace between those running the organization, the firstborns, and the lastborn workers.   The middle-born child often tries to get through live without being noticed, they are just part of “The Gang” [xi]

The Lastborn

The Lastborn grows up with almost everything laid out for them by their older siblings and parents and they come into the workforce looking to be directed by others in the workforce.  They often want their own ‘Freedom’ but once on their own find it difficult to manage their affairs to keep them solvent.  They tend to be more sociable than their older siblings and an easy mark for being taken advantage of in adulthood. [xii]   Probably from their social nature, the Sales Force seems to be disproportionately populated with the Lastborns in their family of origin, and comedians and philosophers are also well represented by the Lastborns (Anything to get out of doing real work).

Personal Experience in Adlerian Psychology

At a national science laboratory platform speakers club (LLNL), I once had the podium in an impromptu speaking session.  The meeting was held in a large conference room holding over a dozen people.  I asked the members of this speakers club how many of them were the firstborn in their families of origin?  All the people in the room, except me, raised their hand indicating they were the firstborns in their families.  I performed a similar experiment in a study group at a local church again with over a dozen members.  I asked how many men in this class had an older brother.  Ninety percent of the men raised their hands.  I then asked how many women in this class were the oldest in their family of origin; eighty percent of the men with older brothers came to class with their firstborn wives!  At another church where I had previously been a member and knew several men in this church, I asked if they had an older brother, their answer “yes” even the young preacher had an older brother.  Does this mean that ninety percent of men who are involved with the mission of a church have an older brother?  I asked the young preacher if his older brother went into the field of science, he replied in the affirmative.  Does this writer have an older brother?  “Yes”.  Ten years older, that would qualify this writer as a functional only child.  Is this writer involved with the mission of the church?  This is the same writer of the Blog: http://anewparadigminchristianthinking.wordpress.com/.

The Case of DNA

Does DNA play a role in our personality traits and skill packages?  In a recent program, on PBS, the latest developments of DNA science were disclosed that our DNA changes with our experience so as we learn new skills (and knowledge) our DNA changes to reflect these additions to our skill packages.  Therefore, when the parents, who are young and inexperienced, have their first children, the DNA passed down to these first children will be different than the DNA passed down to later children because the DNA of the parents have changed with their adult experiences.  All of the children in a family will then receive different skill packages from the same parents, depending on how more advanced and experienced their parents developed.

QED

[i] http://deadpresidents.tumblr.com/post/15457991558/which-presidents-were-the-oldest-child-the

[ii] PBS 2015

[iii] ibid

[iv] Frontline 01/2015

[v] Personal information

[vi] ibid

[vii] http://drleman.com

[viii] Dr. Kevin Leman, “The First Born Advantage” Revell pub., 2008, P 69

[ix] Personal observations well working with the USA’s Best of the Best at a national science Laboratory and a local church

[x] Jesus Matthew 7:1-5

[xi] http://drleman.com

[xii] Luke 15:11-24