Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Birth Order: First, Middle, Last, One, or One of Many?

I've been thinking about birth order lately because my novella's heroine is a middle child. My Summer 2014 Indulgence release has a heroine who is an only child. And my Margie Lawson Visceral Response manuscript's heroine is the last child in a family of many. Each of these heroines have different personalities and ways of coping with life, adversity, other people, themselves.

I'm one of two children. The oldest. Possibly the bossiest. But my brother grew up and became his own boss, runs his own company and is a take-charge guy in an understated way. So who's the boss now? The Physicist is one of two and the oldest as well. He's a take-charge guy, too. Coincidentally, my brother and my husband are the sign Taurus.

I'm a Capricorn. Locking horns is the name of the game here.

My daughter is an only child. She's got qualities of a first born child and a last born child as part of her personality. Some people think only children fit a stereotypical "spoiled child" picture. That couldn't be more wrong. I've met a lot of people who are only children and without exception each one of them have not behaved in a spoiled way. If anything, they are generous to a fault and very easy to get along with because they're probably used to navigating between two hovering adults. But that's just my theory.

My best friend in the Netherlands is from a family of five and lands smack dab in the middle of the clan. She's a great negotiator, arbitrator and knows how to take care of herself very well. She grew up and has four children; each one of them as unique as the snowflakes that fall in winter.

I'm not sure if birth order impacts personality as much as nature, nurture, life circumstances, and life experiences, but it's interesting to evaluate and understand from a writer's perspective.

So now I'm about to write a story about heroine who has always been stuck in the middle, a good kid with two parents who love her but were busy juggling the demands of running their resort, raising two other children, and loving each other. Sometimes she thought of herself as the "ride along chick." And sometimes being left to her own devices meant she could do what she wanted when she wanted to do it. She also likes being part of group, in the middle of a team and getting things done.

But now she has to face something that has rocked her world, and given her usual spunky optimism a cynical edge. If she doesn't figure out how to redefine herself, she could lose the one man who is perfect for her. Even though he seems completely, totally, out of her league.

I'm curious about your place in the family pecking order. Where did you fall? If you are a middle child or have raised a middle child, I'd love to hear about your experiences.


Stephanie said...

Great post, Christine. Like you, I'm the oldest of two with a younger sister. I have 3 children. My middle child, a son, was always the wildest, but also the most loving. He struggled for a few years. Now he's settled down, married, happy and having a great time with his kids.

Meda White said...

I always find this topic interesting. I'm the oldest of three girls and am the leader, but not in a bossy way. (I don't think.) My middle sister is also a Taurus- very loving, touchy-feely, likes sparkly things, very intelligent, up on the latest trends from fashion to teen slang, and she has a great sense of humor. I hope this helps and best wishes with the writing.

Christine said...

Hi Stephanie: I think that your son was lucky to have a mom like you to guide him through the rough spots. Were your other children boys or girls or a mix of the two? Wonder what it would be like to be in the middle of two sisters or all brothers.

Christine said...

Hi Meda:

You are not bossy at all, but I think you are always poised, confident and bold. I was so impressed with how you tackled your first RWA National Conference.

And your sister sounds like a fun girl.


Crystal Lee said...

Excellent post! Like you, I'm the oldest of two children. I'm also a Capricorn. Horns come in handy, especially when Dark Knight is an Aries.

Ellen Brickley said...

I'm an only, although I have older half-siblings. They were born and raised in a different country, though, so I was raised very much as an only child, although I really like my half-siblings!

I think your comments on only children are apt - my mother remembers when I started pre-school, she had to teach me that it was OK for me NOT to give things away if I wanted them. I'd never had to compete with other children for anything or share, and instead of being unwilling to share, I was TOO willing to share :) To this day I am crazily uncompetitive. If I find out someone else wants something I want, I just let them have it. I don't know how to compete!

That said, I conform completely to the stereotype that only children are loners! I have great friends that I love, but I can quite happily spend lots of time alone. I know quite a few only children who share this trait!

Christine said...

HI Crystal: I knew we had something more in common than writing. I think the Physicist needed a Capricorn and strong woman. He wanted a challenge and I didn't want a pushover. We got exactly who we needed and tho' it may seem that we are arguing often, really we aren't. We just enjoy spirited debates and discussions. :-)

Christine said...

Hi Ellen: I agree with you about only children sharing more readily. The College Kid is very social, but can also spend a lot of time alone entertaining herself. She is very competitive, though. And when the three of us are in the same room it can get quite "lively" around here :-)

Stephanie said...

Hi Christine. My oldest is a girl and fits the Birth Order perfectly and my youngest is a boy. He's a physicist, so he fits too. I'm not sure Smokey appreciated us when he was in trouble, but now he says we helped.
I don't know. I'm just glad he figured things out. We're pretty proud of them all.