After the recently posted thread on How many children do we want, I thought the subject of family dynamics would be an interesting off-shoot. As an example, how many are in your family, where in the pecking order were you born, are you an only child, was a boy born first or a girl and how you think it shaped you if you wish to say so.
I'm the youngest of four. There is only six years between my brother and I. He is the oldest and there are two sisters between us. From that perspective, while it's probably fair to say that the younger child can be given more freedom and therefore be a tad more spoilt, I didn't enjoy the luxury of owning new clothes or other such items, except my underwear of course! I grew up wearing my sister's hand-me downs, until my oldest sister started working and bought some things for me. My mother shot through when I was turning eight, so I guess she took it upon herself to help out when she could in that role, to ease my father's burdens. We weren't very well off, but I learned to be appreciative. While I might've bee spoilt with a little more freedom, I still had to do a lot for myself. I made my own lunches, washed and ironed my own clothes and mended them, took myself to the doctor's and helped my father pay the bills. That was one lesson which has put in good stead - the ability to handle my finances and understand what bills and other such documents entailed. Even better was how my father taught me, because his schooling was very basic and English was his second language. We also grew up without a car, so travelling on public transport was also something I learned to do from an early age.
Having a boy born first in my family taught me how to be a lot tougher, but I also think being born last would have to do with it, as I was treated like the runt of the litter who had to know her place. I knew how to retaliate and I wouldn't cop any rubbish. That attitude is still with me to this day, although I have mellowed somewhat. Watching my kids go through the motions dynamically has been an interesting learning curve. My oldest child likes to assert his authority over his siblings. My youngest child has been picked on a bit by the older two and is learning to stand his ground. My middle child is a girl and doesn't suffer from middle child syndrome because she is the only girl. Admittedly, the older child probably got more of the new toys and clothes, and he certainly had the most of my quality time, but he also learned about looking out for the others.
I think having a boy first creates a more rough and tumble atmosphere. There are toy cars and trucks about the place, plastic guns, knives and swords. Sparring amongst boys seems to be the norm, as they like to expend their nervous energy by play fighting, climbing trees and getting dirty. Girls can do that too, but it seems to be a different atmosphere when the girl is born before the boy and with only girls, how they play and behave seems to be different again. These have been my observations, but I'm sure family dynamics are played out in other ways and I've always been interested in this area of psychology and development.
So, what are your views?