Back in junior high, which I think is called Middle School these days, I remember having to write a report where the teacher had to insist only one student, typically a girl, got to write her report on the Amish and one student got to write on birth order. For some reason, those were the "hot topics" of the day. Everyone wanted to write their report on the Amish.
The rest of us unlucky folks had to rack our brains for some other topic. That was the hard part, finding something to write about. Contrarian that I was, I remember doing my report on psychokinesis. Uri Geller, I believe, was doing his spoon bending thing during this time, so that must've been where I picked it up from. I felt a little like Wednesday Addams compared to the girls writing on the Amish, but at least I learned something new instead of checking out the same worn copies on the Amish from the library and writing the same report we had heard every couple of weeks.
My best friend was the seventh of eight kids. She always wanted to write the report on birth order. And, her family was a text book case of birth order: very successful first born, troubled middle group and prima donna younger kids. I think she wanted to use the "birth order" argument to ward off anyone's expectations. Her older siblings were, in order of birth, a doctor, a dentist, an electrical engineer, a hospital administrator, a drop-out-druggie, and an auto mechanic. I think she was hoping to make the argument that the most her parents could expect from her, being down at the end of the birth order spectrum, was waitress/cosmetology school drop out. Fortunately, her parents were of a generation prior to all the psychological insight of birth order and kept their expectations high.
Once again, the birth order argument is in the news. I even heard Dr. Ray mention it the other day and I had to groan. I missed what Dr. Ray had said on the topic (other than to hear him mocking it), so checked it out on the internet. Now the powers that be are telling us that our marriages will succeed or fail based on our birth order and that of our spouse. Not really anything new.
I'm a first born, so is my husband. According to all the research, it's a recipe for disaster. We should've signed a pre-nup. What were we thinking? You can't just rush into marriage without considering birth order -- what wanton and reckless disregard for research. There ought to be a law or at least we should've been in some intensive counseling prior to saying "I do." I even think canon law must address this some where.
My problem with this is, just like in the case with my friend, these notions remove personal responsibility from the equation. They remove God and free will. Just because I'm a first born doesn't mean I have to, ipso facto in triplicate, be in charge and clash with my husband who is also, by his birth order dictated nature, clamoring to be in charge. Funny how the idea of "being in charge" never has come up in the nearly 20 years we've been married. God knows it hasn't been a cake walk all those years, but I would say that it has been especially harmonious in the areas we are "supposed" to have problems. Getting my husband to clean the garage, well, those are areas I just have to bite my lip and offer up.
Today, it's hard to identify "birth order." Families just aren't having enough kids to have eldest, middle and youngest labels. Now what? Kids have to take on multiple roles? My son is an upper with middle child tendencies? My daughter is middle-youngest?
Personally, I think a lot of this is a character issue. I share a lot of traits with first borns, I'm a recovering perfectionist and a people pleaser, but I also know that I'm called to be a saint regardless of my birth order. I seriously doubt that God is going to reduce anyone's time in Purgatory because, "Oh my, I see you were a middle child. Poor thing. That's just so hard and unfair."
And, according to the article, it is a good thing Jesus never married, being an only child. Divorce court for sure.
25 March – Feast of the Good Thief: St. Dismas
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