For the last couple posts, we’ve been looking at how sibling position plays a significant role in shaping our personalities. All things being equal, individuals born into particular positions in their families share characteristics with others who were also born into that position. Yesterday, we looked at common characteristics of many oldest children. Today we’ll look at common characteristics of many youngest children.
The youngest child gets lots of attention because everyone else in the family feels some responsibility for taking care of the youngest, who learns to expect good things from life. Youngest children tend to have fewer expectations placed upon them, and as a result tend to achieve less. They also tend to depend on others to make their decisions for them. They tend to be more creative, less conventional, and more adventurous than their older siblings. They’re more likely to be followers than leaders, and tend to be sociable, easy-going and popular.
The youngest sister of sisters often acts the youngest all her life, and can play the feminine role to the hilt. Her best-matched mate is usually the oldest brother of sisters who can handle her manipulations. Her poorest choice would be the youngest brother of brothers since neither would nurture the other very well, and since neither is used to opposite sex peers.
The youngest sister of brothers is usually congenial, optimistic, attractive and fun-loving. She is fond of men, and will consider her husband her prized possession, while still having several male friends or mentors besides her husband. Her best marriage match is the oldest brother of sisters. The youngest brother of brothers is usually her worst match since they’ll both want to be taken care of, with little patience for gender differences.
The youngest brother of brothers is daring, headstrong, capricious, unpredictable, and often rebellious. He doesn’t like losing, leaves if things aren’t going well, but can be carefree and good-natured when there is little stress. He’s usually shy with women, so the oldest sister of brothers is his best match, especially if she’s maternal. The most difficult match would be with the youngest sister of sisters, because neither would want to run the household.
The youngest brother of sisters is usually taken care of by women all his life. As a boy, he was likely doted on simply because of his gender (surveys indicate most parents want a boy), so he expects to expend limited efforts to achieve what he wants. He is best matched with the oldest sister of brothers, who is good at taking care of men.
As we mentioned previously, these profiles are descriptive, not prescriptive, but if you study the sibling positions in your family of origin and in previous generations (such as the families your parents’ grew up in), I bet you’ll find that these broader categories generally hold true.
Given that partners tend to match best when their respective sibling positions most closely reflect the sibling positions they held as they were growing up, you might even make some sense about why you and your partner seem (in)compatible. If your sibling profiles compliment your relationship, be grateful! If they clash, perhaps understanding sibling position personality traits can help you work more effectively as a team, rather than provide you with endless reasons to fight.
Tomorrow we’ll look at common profiles of middle children, only children and twins.
(For more information about sibling positions and profiles, see Birth Order & You, by Ronald W. Richardson and Lois A. Richardson; and Family Constellation: Its Effect on Personality and Social Behavior, 4th Edition, by Walter Toman.)