Introduction to Birth Order

In each family, children seek to be seen in unique ways. Each child tries to stake out as wide a territory as possible, leaving the later children increasingly smaller niches. The seven common positions are Authority, Love, Knowledge, Compassion, Eccentric, Integrator and Synthesist. The greatest discrepancy to this order occurs when the family does not handle emotions well. Frequently in this situation, there is no space for the Love position child, so they become the third position – Knowledge. This throws off all the following children in the family. Usually, we count all children that are together from infancy in a family dynamic. If there are breaks of more than five to ten years between children, it is possible that the sequence will restart. If it is more than ten years, it is highly likely that the sequence will start again at the Authority position.

Differences in the behavior of each child can be traced to the desire of the child to get the attention of his or her parents. This creates a sense of competition amongst siblings, which, for the most part, is unspoken and unexpressed. Since this is an instinctive process, it operates mostly unconsciously, coming to the surface only when there are disagreements with the parents. For the most part, birth order is not a major compatibility factor, but it does tend to bring out certain disagreements and comparisons with individuals who occupy a similar position in a different family. We end up projecting our past experiences with siblings onto others with the same birth order as in our own families.

The primary personality-shaping instinctive compatibility factor is effective birth order. Psychologists and researchers, such as Frank Salloway, Ph.D., have documented the different effects on siblings who grow up together. Because siblings share, on the average, only half of the same genes, then genetics are not the whole answer, leaving learned behaviors to explain the differences. Our research indicates that instinctive personality factors are produced based on the defensive styles of the parents, the natural spirit of the child, and different types of favoritism by parents and important adults. Salloway proposes that personality development occurs in a Darwinish manner—with each child developing a niche that distinguishes him or herself from the previous children.

The theory of natural selection is used to illustrate how children compete for attention and family resources. What is fascinating is that the niches across families share predictable behaviors and attributes that appear to correspond to effective birth order. While these roles are speculative, research on hundreds of cases has led us to suggest the following theoretical framework. It should also be noted that these factors may sometimes be reversed when parents reflect clear predispositions toward children who display their thoughts, emotions, and actions.

Before we present the Higher Alignment framework, it is important to first summarize some of Frank Salloway’s work. Investigation of over 125,000 individuals during the last 20 years has conclusively determined that birth order corresponds to the support and protection of the status quo, except when severe parental conflict is present. In other words, latterborns are typically revolutionaries, while the first and second-born work to maintain the status quo. The typical firstborn strategy is to defend their niche against their brothers and sisters. Galloway concludes that latterborns are more open to new experiences, having staked out those domains not filled by older siblings. Finally, his studies suggest that over time children have evolved instinctive motivational systems designed to maximize parental investment, and that birth order is a predictor of experience three times the magnitude of any other factor.

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© Copyright 2016, Larry Byram. All Rights Reserved.

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