Naina: “Mum, who do you love the most”
Simmi: “Mum says she loves us all equally, she just has to parent us differently because we are all different. Right Mum?”
Me: Hugging Simmi, smiling, I replied - “Yes Beto”
Naina: “That’s some bullshit! Mum loves me the most! Tell them Mum!”
Asmita: “Naina, you can‘t be the best at everything. Mum loves Lalla the most! Accept it!”
Lilly: Looking at me, rolling her eyes - “See what you’ve done, you’ve made them think I’m the favourite Child! You better FIX this!” Storms out the room
Years ago, an acquaintance had recommended that I read the book called ’Birth Order‘ by Dr. Kevin Leman. She thought the book would help me in understanding the personality traits of my children. Psychologists like Leman believe the secret to sibling personality differences lies in birth order—whether you're the oldest, middle, youngest, or only child—and how parents treat their child because of it.
Asmita - The First Born.
Asmita is always complaining about being the ’experimental child’. As first-time parents, my husband and I were extremely attentive and overly neurotic. This, in turn, caused Asmita to become a perfectionist. She is continuously striving to please us. To this day, our opinion means the world to her. Asmita was the center of our universe till the other children came. According to Leman, firstborn children are leaders, overachievers, ‘mini parents’, and are afraid of failure. Asmita has always felt the pressure of being perfect. She’s a leader, has a clear vision of her goals, and has been a second parent to all three siblings. She’s always felt our love and attention. This is turn has made her feel secure of our love and support.
Lilly - the second child. First Middle Child.
Lilly was born 15 months after Asmita. My husband and I were more relaxed and less neurotic with Lilly. As parents, our time was divided between the two children. According to Leman, the middle child is often a people-pleaser due to the lack of attention. Lilly grew up to be a people pleaser, had a large social circle, and was very strong-minded. The opinions of others mattered more than her parents. She felt we only loved and accepted her because ‘we had to‘ since we were her parents. According to Leman, Middle children always question ‘Who Am I?’. They try to find their place in the family since they are not the oldest nor the youngest. Lilly was continually questioning her place in the family. She always felt that she couldn’t live up to Asmita. Lilly’s greatest strengths were her patience, willingness to compromise, and her sense of adventure. Lilly was never afraid of trying new things or failing.
Naina - the third child. Second Middle Child.
Naina is a mix between Asmita and Lilly. Even though she had a large social circle, Naina is not a people pleaser. She is a leader. She learned to become independent and voice her opinion at a very young age. She is an overachiever, a perfectionist. She has a clear vision and is a ’go-getter’. Naina has always strived to be the best at everything. At times, she can be extremely hard on herself. She doesn’t handle failure very well. Naina has always been a sensitive child. Many times, she has felt that she has had to fight for our love and attention. She continually seeks proof of our love and affection. Naina relied on her older two siblings to be her buffer with the parents. Lilly was her lawyer. Looking back, our parenting styles became much more relaxed with Naina.
Simran - the fourth child. The baby of the family.
As the youngest, Simran has been spoiled and protected by all of us. She has grown up with five parents. Simran is uncomplicated, fun-loving, and outgoing. She has the patience of a saint and is usually very agreeable. According to Leman, the youngest always feels like ’Nothing they do matters’. Simran feels like the excitement of her learning things is not there, since we’ve been through it before. Parenting Simran has been very different than parenting Asmita or Lilly. We have become much more relaxed and open-minded. We also lack the energy we had with the older three. Simran has grown up with very little responsibility and has not had to live up to the same standards as her siblings.
Health and Mental Issues
According to Leman, a child born with significant physical or neurodevelopmental disabilities can remain in the "youngest" position regardless of the birth order. This impacts the psychological birth order position of the other children. Lilly took a lot of our time and attention. The siblings suffered in silence, feeling angry, scared, and alone. They had to learn to be independent and to give up their time with us so we could focus on Lilly. Simmi thought that ‘Bad Behaviour’ lead to gaining more parental attention and love. All three children had to grow up and take the position of Lilly’s caretaker. They felt guilty that they couldn’t help Lilly and were angry with me for doing ‘too’ much. All three children felt that Lilly was the favorite since she took a lot of our attention and the ‘rules’ were different for her. Lilly was not the favorite, Lilly had different challenges and needs.
Whether you have one child or four, parenting is the most hardest, selfless, and challenging job in the world. I love each child equally but over time and with experience, I’ve had to parent each child differently. Parenting has never been a one size fits all. How can it be, when all four of them have different personalities, different strengths, different challenges.
Learning about Birth Order gave me insight into our children‘s personalities. It helped define some tendencies. It helped me understand why each child reacted differently to the same situation. However, Birth Order alone does not define our child’s personality. They are many other things to take into consideration. Regardless of the Birth Order, all our children have been given equal opportunities. The constant throughout the journey has been our love and unconditional support for our children.