If you are anything like me, then you are no stranger to socially awkward conversations such as…

Stranger: Do you have any brothers or sisters?

Me: I have two brothers.

Stranger: Are they older or younger?

Me: One older; one younger..

Stranger: Ohhhhh.. so you’re a middle child!


Stranger: Do you have any kids

Me: Yeah, I have a daughter.

Stranger: When are you going to have another; you don’t want her being an only child

Conversations such as those drew me to researching Alfred Adler’s studies on birth order.  Adler theorized that the order in which one is born into a family, directly influences one’s personalty.  Below are some characteristics that Adler theorized to be direct results of birth order.

Oldest Child

Serious, Goal-oriented , Follows the rules, High Self-esteem, Desire to help, protect, and lead others, Organized, Jealous, High-achieving, Competitive

Middle Born Child

Feels as though they do not belong, Fewer Pictures in Family Album, Lack of Drive, Natural Mediators , Avoid Conflict, Loyal , Have many friends, Take it or Leave it Personality , Often Lonely, Seekers of Justice

Youngest Child

Party Animal, Entrainer, The Baby, Outgoing, Charmer, Selfish, Manipulative, Irresponsible, Social

Only Child

Characteristics of First Born or Youngest Child

Exhibit A; My Brother’s and I

chasmin law school pic

My family is the personification of Adler’s birth order theory!  First, you have my older brother pictured in the middle holding is his Georgetown Law Juris Doctor degree (need I say more?).  My older brother is very competitive but he is also the one person that I am able to count on when I need advice or help.  Next, lets skip to my younger brother.  I think that may be the only outfit he brought on our trip to Georgetown.  He is always ready for a good time or a laugh.  He is usual not the one I depend on to do something responsible, but some of the best days of my life were spent laughing with him.  Lastly you have me! I am such a middle child that I am awkward at describing myself.  Not really sure where I fit in; I’ve seen very few baby pictures of myself.  If it were not for me being the only girl, I would probably get forgotten a lot.

The point of this post was to reflect on how simple things that are beyond our control ,such as how many siblings we have, can play a role in who we become.  Although it is annoying when strangers lecture me on the woes of Yasmin being an only child, it is important for me to reflect on how my parenting style and the environment I place her in will contribute to the woman she becomes.  No matter if we are the oldest, youngest, middle, or only child it is important to keep in mind that we are all unique individuals.  We often times get comfortable with being a product of our environment that we confine ourselves to the box that life has put us in.  Example, my older brother was always the smart one; that was his niche.  One day I read a study that said siblings tend to be within two IQ points of one another.  I began to think “hey, what’s stopping me from being smart?”.  I began to apply myself, I read books, I exposed myself to new things and in my eyes I became smart. We can not always control the environment we grow from, but one thing I hope I will instill into Yasmin is, “You may be an only child, but that does not mean that you can not be generous!”.