Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Positive and Negative Expressions of Birth Order Traits: How People with the Same Birth Order can Appear so Different?


When explaining the characteristic traits of the various
birth orders to my audience I am asked by some why
they or someone they know does not seem to fit the
mold as I explain the traits of their birth order. This is
the time when I explain that birth order traits can be
expressed in both a calm or a combative manner. In
other words, a positive or negative expression of the traits.

The Only Birth Order
Most everyone has seen the movie Willie Wonka and
 the Chocolate Factory. The children in this movie
express the two sides of the Only birth order.  Charlie,
the responsible little “adult like” child was considerate
and helped care for his elderly relatives. The other
children, Gustaf, Tex, and Veronica were selfish and
displayed the characteristics of a spoiled child. This
birth order can be the adult in the room or a demanding
self-centered personality. Regis Philbin is an example
that shows the “adult-like” characteristics. Calm and
self-assured at all times. This was also true of Walter
Cronkite the broadcaster who was labeled “The most
trusted man in America”. The character of the Only
child is the one birth order that reflects the parents and
their parenting. Condoleezza Rice is another well
mannered “adult like” Only birth order.  Her father
was a minister and her mother a music teacher.  Books
and education were her calling and she became President
of Stanford University at the age of 38. David Berkowitz
the “Son of Sam” killer was an illegitimate child that was
adopted.  Raised as an Only child he was a lonely and shy
and even joined the Baptist Church to find friends.  He
acted out his frustrations as he was not getting  direction
from his parents. Charles Manson was another Only that
had a very troubled childhood. His mother went to prison
for armed robbery and prostitution. He was raised by an
antiestablishment uncle who was a “mountain man”.  By
age nine Charlie set his school on fire. His followers were
the family he never had but they carried out his anti-
establishment agenda.

Sibling Conflicts: First and Second Borns 
The interaction between siblings is the reason for unique
expressions of birth order traits. For the firstborn holding
on to their “Throne” is the all important focus of their
unconscious behavior.  They may have to fight hard to hold
their position, as did Hillary Clinton who had two younger
brothers.  This carried over into her adult life where we see
her display the firstborn traits aggressively. Power over
others is what the firstborn wants and Hillary is not subtle
in her approach.  Kelly Ripa shows the opposite characteristics
as a first born, she did not have to fight off a challenge to her
throne by a younger sister. Jimmy Stewart was also a firstborn
with a very self-assured personality.  He did not feel the
pressure on the “Throne” from his younger sisters.  This made
him a very supportive calm person because he had no fear of
losing his position in the family.  Most of the roles he took
expressed this trait of a composed and calm person, feeling
very secure.

I recall one person that I was consulting, a firstborn with a
younger sister that was born with a handicapped. She seemed
to be holding back her rage.  As the firstborn she was not
receiving the attention she felt she deserved.  Her younger
sister was getting the attention that she felt was her right. 
She could not speak out against her sister, she just suffered
in silence until she could take out her feelings and frustration
on someone not in her family. Her first husband felt the full
force of her discontent and that marriage ended in divorce.

Second Born
The second born has an overwhelming desire to dethrone the
firstborn and take this position.  If he can accomplish this no
one will be telling him what to do. This of course has a
devastating effect on the firstborn.  As children, the second
born will start copying their older sibling and if they cannot
achieve the dethroning, they will go in another direction.
They may then show frustration and aggressiveness all of
their lives.  This could have been the case of Kim Jon-IL
the former dictator of North Korea, or Anthony Weiner
the former Congressman. If they do elevate themselves
to the higher position they may still feel the need to earn
a lot of money to hold their position and prevent others
from giving them orders. Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, and
Mark Zuckerberg are billionaires, all had older sisters.
Their money allows them the freedom they seek. Martha
Stewart may have gone a little too far by using the system
for insider trading to make additional money. The former
Congressman Tom Delay may also have lost his moral
compass when he was convicted of money laundering.
In the Congress he was nicknamed the “Hammer” for
wreaking political vengeance on his opponents. This is
the birth order than likes to control their space but not
that of others. The Second born has a belief system that
is hard to change for he does not see things personally
but has his own standards of what is right and wrong.
He goes right when the others go left and that is exactly
what was said of our former President Ronald Reagan a
Second born that dethroned his older brother. Ronald Reagan
held to his belief about the evils of Communism. When at
the Berlin Wall that separated East and West Berlin he said,
“Mr. Gorbachev tear down this wall” and it did come
down. If the Second born holds stubbornly to his beliefs
he can show a negative side of this birth order. Timothy
McVea the Oklahoma Bomber held stubbornly to his belief
about the abuse of power by the Federal Government.
Eva Braun, Hitler’s mistress could not bring herself to
believe that Hitler was wrong even though her own father
thought he was a mad man. On the positive side Martin
Luther King Jr. held to his belief that all men should be
treated equal in his quest for civil liberty. The stubborn
trait of this birth order can be used for good.

Third Born
The Third birth order sees life differently from their first two
siblings. Many Third borns are not well grounded in reality
and can become dreamers. They see the artistic side of things
and see the bigger picture of humanity in all its forms. They are
very sensitive and can come and go emotionally. Mother 
Theresa was a Third born. She saw poverty in India and tried 
to help people overcome their circumstances.  Religion is an 
interest of many Third borns as they have a non monetary 
view of the world. When I say Rosie O’Donnell was a Third 
born people say how can that be? Your personality is shaped 
by your position in the family and from your interactions with  
yoursiblings. Rosie has all brothers with whom she interacted. 
The Third born is very sensitive and will do their best to not
show they have been hurt from others by sometimes putting
up a hard shell as protection. This is Rosie’s defense. Chris
Farley used comedy to shield himself from the world but also
fell prey to drugs as did Charlie Sheen, another Third born.
On the positive side, Dwight Eisenhower our former President
was the  commander our troops and won World War II
and helped bring peace to the World. President Teddy 
Roosevelt was instrumental in developing our National Park 
system by saving much of our wilderness for others to enjoy. 
As a Third born he saw the bigger picture.

Fourth Born
This is the baby in the birth order sequence.  If life and work
are not fun, this birth order won’t play.  Michael Jordan the
basketball player and Olga Korbut the gymnast are both Fourth
borns and work was play.  Dolly Parton also has fun with her
work and does not take life too seriously. There is however a
negative side with trying to not grow up.  This was seen with
the socially unacceptable behavior of Mary Kay Letourneau
the school teacher that had an affair with her thirteen year old
student. She went to jail but violated her parole to see him
again.  She eventually married him when she finished her
prison sentence. He was also a Fourth born birth order. Seeing
yourself as a child and not taking responsibility for your
actions can be a negative side of this birth order. They can get
into co-dependent relationships because as a child, many 
tasks were taken care of by older siblings.

All birth orders show their characteristics in both positive and
negative ways. Don’t be confused by behaviors that just don’t
seem to fit.  The siblings in one’s family color the expression
of one’s birth order.  You may need to ask a few questions
before you understand what is going on. I have addressed
only the Single Birth orders and not the Double Birth orders. 
Double Birth orders have much stronger personality
characteristics. This translates into even greater differences
in their behavior as they amplify, intensify and magnify all
the normal birth order characteristics.

To learn more about all the birth orders go to  and get a copy of the book
Life’s Fingerprint: How Birth Order Affects Your Path
Throughout Life by Dr. Robert V.V. Hurst