Being the Youngest Child
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.
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.
- Youngest Child Behavior | ModernMom.com
- Personality Traits Linked To Birth Order - CBS News
The Early Show: Personality Traits Linked To Birth Order - Place On Family Tree To Shape Personalities
- The Youngest Child: Birth Order Characteristics | West Coast Wellness Group