Those of you lastborns are probably jumping for joy knowing that this Birth Order Series is finally going to focus on the most important child in the family, YOU!
But before we get started, let me reiterate that birth order characteristics are not set in stone. In fact, there are so many variables that go into how a child, in a specific birth order, will behave that you really can’t pigeon hole any one particular birth order. However, research, experience, and talking to families has led me to believe that many of the characteristics do line up.
So without further ado, lets talk about what we’ve all been waiting for, or at least what all the lastborns have been waiting for, the baby of the family!
Even though the baby of the family is the lastborn, they are in no way the least. As a matter of fact, Dr Leman, author of The Birth Order Book, says, “From the time they are old enough to start figuring this out, lastborns are acutely aware that they are the youngest, smallest, weakest, and least equipped to compete in life.”
Of course we know that they are very equipped. In fact, the lastborn works long, endless, hours at becoming equipped in their own personal way…….
They Live for the Limelight ~ Because the youngest in the family is in constant competition for attention they learn different ways to get that needed attention. Sometimes they become the class clown and sometimes they turn on the charm; they learn how to work a crowd (or class) for sure.
The baby of the family often works very hard to be different from their older siblings and I have seen this in my daughter. She definitely walks to the beat of her own drum. While her older sister was very much a girly-girl, playing with dolls and barbies and loving things that were pink and sparkly, Carsyn, my baby, is much more of a tomboy. Pink colors and rhinestone sparkles have been replaced with athletic shorts and Nike sweatshirts. She will not let me near her hair with a curling iron even if her life depended on it.
One time I gave her $20 to wear her hair up in a messy bun to school just because it looked so cute on her. I told her I would give her a dollar for every compliment she got and she had to be honest. She got 19 compliments so I gave her another $20 bucks. I thought for sure this would motivate her to keep wearing her hair in a cute girly fashion. Nothin doin’. She has never worn her hair like that again. She was determined to not be conformed to the image of “girly girls” or that of her older sister. By purposely being different, she gets the attention she needs and the tenacity that comes from her distinctive style.
They are Charming yet Manipulative~ Lastborns yearn for positive attention. And they are good at exercising their skills of manipulation when they are threatened with negative attention. By finding a way to shift the focus on to an older sibling or some other outrageous reason why it could not possibly have been them that did whatever they are being accused of, the baby of the family learns early how to shape circumstances to their benefit.
Because lastborns often feel that they are not being taken seriously by their family and and peers, they often adopt an “I’ll show you” attitude to prove themselves to the world in which they live.
I’ll never forget the time I was grocery shopping with my daughter. She was about 4 or 5 years old. While we were in the grocery store, she found a five pack of Hot Wheels that she wanted me to buy. I told her no. When we wheeled the cart to the parking lot, Carsyn got in the car and locked all the doors so I couldn’t get in. She was mad that I didn’t buy her the Hot Wheels and she was going to “show me”. Needless to say that the only thing that showed was her little fanny when we got home. While the determination to prove that they are worth it is commendable and often takes them to prestigious careers later in life, it’s this rebellious attitude that can land them into some trouble.
They Love Encouragement ~ Lastborns love praise, reassurance and recognition. They are often a teacher’s dream because they ask questions, answer questions and get their work done just for the edification that comes from a good grade and the teacher’s approval. With the baby of the family, even a little encouragement goes a long way.
Getting laughs is also a form of affirmation that lastborns seek to be noticed and it is usually around middle school when the baby of the family starts to show signs of becoming the class clown at school. Even if the attention they get is negative, from a teacher or administrator, it is often enough to keep them going and with no concern of the consequences.
They Make Great Salesmen ~ The baby of the family has charm, there’s no doubt about it. They don’t need to be pushy or tough to get others to like them or buy from them. They can simply be their charismatic selves and people are drawn to them. Their entertaining stories, outgoing personalities and perhaps comic appeal can make any potential buyer lower his guard just enough to be talked into the sale.
They love to work in groups or one on one. Social is right where they want to be and this is evident every Wednesday morning when I drive Carsyn to school for FCA (Fellow Christian Athletes). She loves the big games, the small group time and has committed to being a leader of a small group.
Lastborns want to help others either by leading or by contributing in some way to the needs of others. Every time we go to Chicago, Carsyn brings a few bucks to give to some of the homeless people she sees on the streets. Lastborns have generous hearts as they like to give (and get) strokes.
They Can Be Moody ~ Babies of the family are fickle. One minute they are affectionate, the next, they are acting out their emotions in some spoiled rotten way. It makes for a lot of hard work for the parent and by the time the baby of the family comes into the picture parents are usually worn out from parenting the other kids and resort to letting the lastborn fend for themselves.
I know I have felt this way. Since Carysn is my fourth child, sometimes I just get so tired of having to deal with “that” behavior all over again or “this” situation for the umpteenth time. I have found myself asking the older kids to “just take care of your sister” or “could you talk to your sister?” It’s not uncommon at all for the babies of the family to get most of their guidance and information from their siblings. If this is how you are feeling as a mother or father, just make sure you’ve done a good job parenting the older kids so they raise the baby right!
They are Full of Persistance ~ No doubt about it, lastborns are extremely persistent. Even now, as I write this post, my daughter has reminded me 15 times to look up girls’ lacrosse teams on the computer because she wants to play. Never mind that she has never played, watched or knows anyone who has played or watched but she is determined to give it a shot to the point of giving me a full blown migraine headache.
Lastborns need to prove to the world that they have value and will stay focused on what they’ve set their sites on until it comes to pass or until the next thing comes along. Lasborns are bold. Their confidence builds as they try new things that most people would never even think of or have the courage to try. Carsyn is my only child that has a belt in Tai Kwan Do. She is the only one obsessed with animals and taking care of them. She is the only one that has dreams to be a surgeon, veterinarian, doctor and movie star. (My firstborn wants to be a movie star but that’s typical of firstborns).
They Get Away With Everything ~ When the baby of the family realizes that they are never going to live up to the stardom of the firstborn and the likability of the middle child, they set their sites on not only “what” they can do to be different but “how” they can do life different. This behavior can often be mistaken as undisciplined behavior and the label of being spoiled. What is really happening is that they are experts at exercising their persistence to get what they want. You can ask my firstborn, my middleborn, and my thirdborn, “Carysn gets away with everything!” For example, if the whole family is watching a movie and her bedtime rolls around the lastborn will usually be allowed to stay up late while the other kids never got to stay up past their bedtime. By the lastborn, parents are just plain weary and worn out and they tend to bend the rules so much more than they were ever willing to do with their older children.
By and large, the baby of the family is fairly uncomplicated. Though they may seem a little scattered, messy and self-centered, they truly are fundamentally caring, funny, genuine and can be a pleasure to be around. Let’s just give them the much needed round of golf claps we all know they want and a big, red, “A+” for their effort of being entertaining and providing the rest of the family with never a dull moment.