Okay. So, what are ordinal issues? Think of the root word “order.” Ordinal issues have to do with the birth order of your children. There are typical personality characteristics that are affected by birth order. Usually, the first-born child is the most responsible of your children. Also, since that one is your first, and you’ve never parented before, the first-born is the experimental one.
Most new parents use what they know or have experienced. When you’ve been blessed with good parents, you want to parent your own children just like you experienced being parented. If you were victimized as a child by bad parents, you imagine parenting just the opposite of how you were parented. However, if you’ve been severely traumatized by your parent(s), to get through it, some kids deal with that by concluding that it’s just how parenting is. Without proper guidance, these kids often become as troubled as their parents.
First-borns are rule conscious because they don’t want to upset their parents and because all of parental attention, of course, is on them. Their parents are experimental in their parenting because they’ve never done this before and don’t have a good grasp on effective parenting. So, they wing it and continue what works.
When the second child comes along, depending on age difference, first-borns either have a new playmate, or their responsibility gene kicks in and they become their sibling’s surrogate parent. Both options are typically reinforced by their parents. “Look at you, playing so nicely with your brother.” “You are such a mama’s little helper. Thank you for looking out for your brother.”
Research on ordinal relationships suggest that, if your children are closer than three years apart in age, parents get a 2 for 1 special and the kids benefit from basically growing up together. If the siblings are greater than three years apart, the first-born is more likely to embrace the responsible surrogate role with their sibling. The greater birth difference also brings into the picture their differing developmental issues.
Your second child, as the younger, is more likely to be spoiled, testing limits, questioning your authority or parenting decisions. This, of course, requires more of your parental attention to rein this child in and encourage him to conform to your expectations. Having begun the parenting journey with your first-born, parents are less likely to be experimental with their second-born. You’ve figured out what works best.
If/when a youngest child is born, your second child becomes the middle child. Middle children have a mixed blessing. On the one hand, middle children are usually more social, more inquisitive, more curious. On the other hand, middle children are often considered “lost” in the family. Parents tend to unconsciously gravitate toward the oldest and youngest children, as they seem more needy. Middle kids can get “lost” in the shuffle of the family. Accordingly, they often are attention-seeking and can be at greater risk for acting out. After all, negative attention is better than no attention.
The youngest child in you family most frequently tests the limits. They can be more demanding of your attention, often playing the “cute” factor. They want to be included in all things older or adult. Parents want to set healthy boundaries with them and stick to them. They often learn things faster, because the middle and first-born siblings have already been there-done that. Youngest children have the benefit of their sibling’s experiences
If your family has expanded beyond three children, then there are more kids vying for your attention. First-born and youngest roles tend to continue, while middle-child roles are shared among the middle children. Jealously becomes a factor, as new children are added to the mix. All the children look for their “place” in the mix.
Regardless of ordinal issues depending on the size of your family, be sure to carve out one-on-one time daily with each of your children, according to their needs and wants. Also, keep sacred certain whole family time and activities. These become touch tones that everybody learns to count on and define you as a thriving unit, despite of individual nuances.
Such sacred family time and activity can include having dinner as a family around the dinner table each night. This becomes check-in and catch-up time to keep all on the same page. Additional whole family events include annual vacations and holiday traditions. Hope these comments are helpful.