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24. Book Review -- The Birth Order Book

Book Title: The Birth Order Book

Author: Dr. Kevin Leman

Year of Publication1998

PublisherRevell, a division of Baker Publishing Group


Author’s Web-site

Full Book Available inEnglish, Czech

You should read this book if you…

Want to understand birth order to benefit personal relationships, marriage, parenting and the business world.

“In a nut shell”…

“Birth order is the science of understanding your place in the family line.”  Pg 14.  Your birth order affects your life and helps you understand yourself and solve your problems.

Key Ideas…

Parents tend to over-identify with the child in the same birth order he or she shares. This can result in the parent putting too much pressure on, or spoiling, that child.

“If the parents are authoritarians who come down too hard and too unreasonably on their first born, they can turn her into a rebel who, instead of excelling in school as most first-borns would, messes up just to foil the plans of her ‘perfect parents.’”  Pg 55

If you have a blended family, treat it like a small company. Have regular meetings where everyone sits down to discuss how their behavior affects other members of the family, and if their behavior is causing problems how they can change it.

First-borns need to “learn the difference between the hopeless pursuit of perfection and the satisfying seeking of excellence.”  Pg 117

Children develop a life theme, which is a personal motto or slogan that the child subconsciously repeats to himself daily and believes with all his heart. You are not totally what your life theme tells you that you are because you have an opportunity to change.

Parents are usually either authoritarian or permissive in their parenting style.

“Authoritarianism is based on a warped idea of limits—the more limits the better.”  Pg 253

“Permissiveness is based on a warped idea of love” Pg 253, that all you have to do is love your child and everything will be fine.

A better style of parenting is authoritative parenting, in which parents use action-oriented techniques of reality discipline. “Discipline should fit the infraction. For example, the child misuses his allowance. When he asks for something extra before the week is out, you simply say, ‘Sorry, you will have to use your allowance and if you haven’t any left, you will have to wait until Saturday.’” Pg 266  “With reality discipline parents never seek to punish; they always seek to discipline, train and teach.”  Pg 260

Action Steps…

Disciplining children is a way to best love them.

If you spank your child, you should be under control, not angry, and always tell the child afterward why he was spanked. After spanking, hold your child, tell the child what behavior you expect in the future, and listen to your child to find out why your child acted the way she did. “A good reason to spank is when the child’s safety is involved—when he repeatedly insists on doing something dangerous, like running out into the street.”  Pg 259

Tips for parenting first born and only children

“So look for ways to show your child that you are human, that you understand, that you are not perfect, and that mistakes are not the end of the world. Every time you do this, you help your first-born or only child become less of a perfectionist who grows up to whip and drive himself with expectations that are far beyond human capacity.” Pg 285

When you bring your second born child home from the hospital, get the first born to help with the baby (the first born can help feed and diaper the new baby, for example).

Don’t let your first born child manipulate you to get special advantages, or give in to a temper tantrum or tears.

All children need encouragement rather than prodding. “Learn to simply hold your child when he or she is having problems.  Just say, ‘Everything’s going to be okay.  What’s the problem?…Would you like me to help?’”  Pg 283

Don’t compare your children.

Give all of your children plenty of one-on-one time.

Tips for parenting middle children

“Recognize that many middle children avoid sharing how they really feel about things. If your middle child is an avoider, set aside times for just the two of you to talk.”  Pg 319

“Take extra care to make your middle child feel special.”  Pg 319  Ask your middle child for his opinion or let him make decisions.

Let your middle child have regular privileges each day or week. Make sure it is something the middle child gets to do exclusively.

Tips for parenting last-born children

Be sure to give your last born child plenty of responsibilities around the house.

Make sure your last born child is required to comply with family rules and regulations.

“Make a big deal out of your last born’s accomplishments” and be sure to display the child’s school papers and drawings.  Pg 336

Begin reading to your youngest child very early (as early as six months).


“Reality disciplinarians hold their children accountable for their actions, whatever those actions are, to help their children learn from experience…in all cases children are responsible and accountable for what they do.”  Pg 260

“The way parents treat their children is as important as their birth order, spacing, sex, and physical or mental characteristics. The key question is: Was the environment provided by the parents loving, accepting, and warm or was it critical, cold, and distant?”  Pg 338

Statistics and Interesting Facts…

“[w]hen there is a five- to six-year gap, the next child starts a ‘new family.’ When there is a gap of seven to ten years (or more), the next child falls into the ‘quasi-only child’ category…” Pg 22

First-born girls who grow up under a very critical father are often hard on themselves and put themselves in unhealthy situations.

First borns “tend to be conscientious, well organized, serious, goal oriented, achieving, people pleasers, and believers in authority.”  Pg 78

The only child can be self-centered because he or she does not have to share with siblings.

Second borns are usually the opposite of first borns.

Middle born children often spend more time with their peer group than any other child in the family does.

Last born children are usually charming, affectionate, persistent, rebellious, temperamental, manipulative, spoiled and impatient. Last-borns are usually good salespeople.

“Opposites not only attract, they are usually good for one another in a marriage setting.”  Pg 217

How this has changed my parenting…

I am a first-born, so it was helpful for me to learn more about myself and my tendencies toward perfectionism. Now I will encourage my first-born child (and all my children) to strive for excellence rather than perfection. For example, when my son helps out around the house, I won’t correct his imperfections, but instead will just thank him for helping.

This book also helped me better understand why my husband, who is a middle child, often does things differently from me. It made me appreciate and be thankful for our differences.

I also understand the importance of giving attention to the last born. It is easier to just let them ride the wave of the family. But, that tendency can lead to permissiveness, which then causes problems for the entire family system.

© 2011 The Family Project

Related Topics: Christian Home, Mothers, Fathers, Parenting, Book Review, Parent Resources

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