Sibling Position Across Generations – Mom’s Family of Origin
As you’re studying sibling positions, don’t forget to include your parents in your research because the sibling profiles of your parents can provide insight into your own personality profile, as well. (And if you’re dating, this information about your date’s roots could help you understand him or her, too.) As I mentioned yesterday, I’ll use my own family as an example, starting with my mom’s side.
My mother, was the youngest child with an older brother whose protective mother favored and sheltered him from his gruff father. Although he was an oldest child, he developed a more typical youngest child personality profile—evidence of poor differentiation in his family of origin.
In the next generation, my mother continued the pattern of favoring the oldest male child, and since I’m very much like my mother temperamentally, I would certainly have done the same had my ex-husband and I birthed children.
Favoring children does no favors for anyone in the end. For at least three generations, the mothers in my family system on both sides have fused with their sons while their passive fathers have abdicated the responsibility of creating a strong bond with them. This pattern has crippled the adult lives of these males…and their sisters who had a very different set of expectations to live up to.
If you’ve been following this blog, you know that these attitudes and expectations about males and females came from an extreme fundamentalist religious system that suppressed any efforts toward differentiation. Gender and religion were such critical factors in the family system’s way of thinking and operating that they trumped every other factor. Natural factors—such as birth order, capacity, intelligence, interests, talents, and abilities—were actively stifled by the adherence to a belief system that supported only those factors that matched its preconceived notions.
Sibling Position Across Generations – Mom’s Extended Family
I’ve recently connected with my mom’s first cousin Doug, and my conversations with him have confirmed many of the suspicions I’ve had about my mother’s family. My mom insists that her family was solid and that her childhood was healthy, but the symptoms all over the family system belie her assertions, suggesting that she may be unwilling or unable to evaluate the system clearly. My cousin Doug seems to be more honest about his evaluations of the family’s functioning, and about how various factors (such as the religious extremism) contribute to its dysfunction.
Tomorrow, we’ll look at birth order patterns on my father’s side of the family, and then we’ll draw some conclusions about sibling position and dating when we put it all together.
(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.)