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Being the Youngest Child

Updated on October 19, 2012

This is the second in a series of articles I am planning on birth order and how it can affect peoples’ lives, both as children and as adults.

People who are born oldest, in the middle, and youngest all have certain images and stereotypes associated with them. In many cases, the conventional wisdom regarding birth order may not be accurate, but in other situations it may hit the mark.

I am the oldest of three children. For this article, I interviewed my brother Pat, who is the youngest child of the family. Here are his interesting and often humorous responses to ten questions I asked.

The Interview

1.Sometimes youngest children can feel lost in the shuffle in their family. Did you crave attention as a child and feel relatively neglected compared to your siblings? If so, what strategies did you use to receive attention?

I absolutely craved attention and would try to do any number of inane things to get noticed. I remember when I was like, three, we had some family over and I got really excited and wanted to, I don’t know, be cool, so I sprinted across the room and ran full speed into the couch. I’m not sure if this achieved my “coolness” goal, but I think I got attention out of it.

2. How do you think your life would have been different if you had been the eldest child?

I think I’ve got some eldest child traits, but I think I would’ve been more disciplined and ridden a little harder by my parents if I was the eldest. I feel like discipline and attentiveness to each individual child gets whittled away the more kids you have.

3. How do you think your life would have been different if you had been the middle child?

If there was a way for me to be even more of a woeful misanthrope during my teenage years, it would’ve been as the middle child.

4. What advantages does being the youngest child have?

Less rules and supervision. I think you also have the advantage of being “the baby” in your parents’ eyes.

5. What disadvantages does being the youngest child have?

You have two older siblings to kick the crap out of you and fabricate elaborate storylines about how you were adopted from a mental home in Boston.

6. Did you feel that you lacked the sense of identity that your older siblings had?

Absolutely, I ended up being kind of a chameleon, changing my personality according to the people I was with. My personality just kind of was throwing a bunch of crap against the wall and seeing what sticks.

7. Youngest children are sometimes stereotypically known for being pampered and spoiled compared to their siblings. To what extent, if any, did this occur in your childhood?

Well, I think that, according to the older siblings, the youngest is always pampered and spoiled. As far as me, my brother was constantly launching protests, from objections to attending church on Sundays, to claiming that weekend chores were a direct violation of child labor laws. My sister constantly fought against curfews and just about every other restrictive rule. I noticed that the easiest path was through perceived appeasement, and bam, had the easiest path, for better or worse. You’ve got to know how to play the game.

8. Other stereotypes of youngest children are that they are rebellious, ambitious, attention craving, and insecure. Do you feel that you fit into any of these attributes?

What kid isn’t insecure? Of course I was, I listened to Slipknot and Korn and was terrified to speak to people until I was in college. And I wouldn’t consider myself rebellious, just too stupid to understand the simple rules of cause and effect. I think I was definitely at times unrealistically ambitious, setting goals which I had no idea how to achieve.

9. Famous youngest children include Cameron Diaz, Jim Carrey, Rose O’ Donnell, and Billy Crystal. Which one of them do you think you are most like (if any)? Which one of them would you like to be (if any)?

Took an informal poll, got two votes for Billy Crystal. And I agree, mainly because When Harry Met Sally is one of my favorite movies ever.

10. Overall, how do you think being the youngest child has affected your life?

I think it has affected my personality, as I think I can be more passive in conflict because as the youngest, you rarely win an argument, whether you are in the right or not. It’s shaped my role in my family as well as every relationship I have.

Bottom of the Totem Pole

Are you a youngest child? How do you think it has affected your life? Does having a larger number of older siblings increase its effect? Leave a comment if you wish.


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    • profile image

      Kate 2 years ago

      I was the younger of two. My sister is five years older than I am. She was the important one. She was always included in family conversations and decision making, while my job was to stay out of everybody's way. There were even family trips that she was taken on, but I was excluded from because I was "too young." I always felt pretty extraneous.

    • nanderson500 profile image

      nanderson500 5 years ago from Seattle, WA

      Thanks for the comments, Au fait. It was a fun interview to do. Yeah a big age difference with your siblings like what you experienced can definitely affect the family dynamics!

    • Au fait profile image

      C E Clark 5 years ago from North Texas

      Interesting article. Also interesting how so many people want to figure out how birth order has affected people. It does of course, and so does everything else in one's environment.

      Will tell you that I held a unique position in my family. I am the youngest, however my 4 sibs are all 8-12 years older than I am, so in some respects I felt like an only child at a certain point. They had all left home for college when I was 10 and the first 2 left when I was 5 and then 6. The dynamics in the family were different than in most families I think, so while I was the one that got picked on the worst for a while, just a few years later I was all alone.

      Good interview and I appreciate the honest answers from your brother.

    • nanderson500 profile image

      nanderson500 5 years ago from Seattle, WA

      Tobusiness and Jessie - Thanks for the comments! Glad you enjoyed the article!

    • Jesse Mugnier profile image

      Jesse Mugnier 5 years ago from Jersey

      This is a wonderful article! I can not wait to read more hubs about this. :)

    • tobusiness profile image

      Jo Alexis-Hagues 5 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K

      The puppy got me also, but I stayed because of the great hub. I was born right in the middle of five children, we were all loved. But the first born son, always got the lion's share. As we grew older and understood each other better, I realized that we all had our own sense of insecurity.

    • nanderson500 profile image

      nanderson500 5 years ago from Seattle, WA

      EHealer - Thank you!! Yep every birth order has its pros and cons.

      Jools99 - Yes us older siblings cannot resist teasing the younger ones, can we! Ha ha!

    • Jools99 profile image

      Jools99 5 years ago from North-East UK

      Interesting hub nanderson. I am the eldest of 3 as well and I definitely think my youngest sibling was spoilt but that was because she was an 'unexpected' surprise :o) I think your brother's point about changing his personality in accordance with his particular crowd is something I recognised in my younger sibling - I think younger children do try to fit in all the time and we older siblings sometimes make this quite difficult -mental hospital in could you! :o)

    • eHealer profile image

      Deborah 5 years ago from Las Vegas

      Excellent hub Nanderson, and I love the Puppy! How cute! Being the youngest does have its pros and cons, but birth order does have some influences on how you react to the world for the rest of your life. Very interesting! Voted up!