Who’s First?

📅 March 13, 2020

Long before you bring the first baby home from the hospital, you will receive lots of advice and testimonials, some of it asked for and some entirely unsolicited, sometimes from total strangers.

Experts from nurses to pediatricians to grandparents to neighbors and friends, will gather around to support you, explaining why the baby isn’t sleeping, why he’s crying, what to do, what ‘never’ to do.

People will say they could not have survived without a swing (that would be me), the rock-and-play, the Boppy, the pack-and-play, swaddling, holding the baby on your shoulder, the “colic hold.” You try them all one by one.

Eventually, as you get to know your child, you figure out what works for you and him or her.

And then the second child comes along, and nothing you did with the first works with the second.  

You turn to books. You heard about On Becoming Babywise by Dr. Robert Bucknam and Dr. Gary Ezzo.

You make it through “babyhood.” Then what?

Allow me to recommend: The Birth Order Book by Dr. Kevin Leman.

I’ll be forever grateful my friend, “Miss Carol,” a stay-at-home mom of three boys, who kept my children when I went back to teach part-time after the birth of my second child, recommended it. I’ve recommended it ever since.

Dr. Leman gives startingly accurate portraits of the firstborn, the middle child, the baby, and the only child.

The firstborn: conscientious, well-organized, serious, goal oriented, achieving.

The middle: mediator, loyal to peers, many friends, maverick, secretive. “Social Lions.”

The baby: charming, attention seeker, people person, engaging, affectionate.

The only: little adult by age seven, high achiever, self-motivated, comfortable with people who are older or younger.

Leman goes on to discuss the variables to these profiles: the differences that occur from order of gender. For example: the “baby” boy may not fit the lastborn profile if he has three older sisters. He becomes the “firstborn” male. Or when the middle child is a different gender than the firstborn and baby. He also discusses adoption and special needs children.

Also helpful is the chapter on how birth order matters in marriage. What happens when firstborn (perfectionist) marries a lastborn or when two “babies” marry each other? And what about two only children marrying?  

No matter where you are on your parenthood or grandparenthood or even marriage journey, this book is for you and/or makes a great gift.

It may even help you understand yourself better and isn’t it nice when something makes sense?

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Holly Bebernitz

Native Texan Holly Bebernitz moved to Jacksonville, Florida in 1967. After thirty years of teaching speech, English, and history on the secondary and college levels, she retired from classroom teaching to become a full-time grandmother. The change in schedule allowed the time needed to complete the novel she had begun writing in 1998. When Trevorode the Defender was published in March 2013, the author realized the story of the Magnolia Arms was not yet complete.