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Dr. Kevin Leman’s Birth Order Book Review

February 5, 2010
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Birth Order BookI’ve recently enjoyed Birth Order Book, The: Why You Are the Way You Are by Dr. Kevin Leman.  I read the revised and updated 2009 version shown above.  The book was thought provoking whether you believed the theories behind it or not.  It was fascinating to me to apply Dr. Leman’s research to my immediate family, my own children, and even to my parents’ families.  I must say that I’m a bit biased toward this sort of literature as psychology has always intrigued me, but I thought the author did a great job of sharing his information.

“The Birth Order Book” tries to offer up reasons for why we behave and think the way we do.  Dr. Leman is careful to explain that there are plenty of exceptions to the rules of birth order so the descriptions of 1st born, middle born, last born is not a “one-size-fits-all” approach, but it can be a helpful guide.

For example, babies of the family have a tendency to draw attention to themselves through humor, practical jokes or other antics.  He explains that perhaps this is because the older siblings stole all the glory before they were even born and there was nothing left for the baby to accomplish.  Realizing this, he ventures to make everyone laugh and love him.  Since he can not be the first or the best, he’ll be the funniest.

Firstborns, on the other hand, are usually high achievers.  For the most impressionable years of their personality forming life – the first 5 to 6 years – they are generally modeling themselves after their parents.  It is easy to see why – there are no older siblings to look up to yet!  Firstborns also want to please their parents and receive their praise.  For these reasons, they can be overly hard on themselves and develop self-esteem issues or even depression if they can’t reach their lofty mark.

Middle-born children have a tendency to get lost in the proverbial shuffle.  They often become mediators and peacemakers.  They go through life knowing they weren’t first and oldest, but also realizing they will never be the cute, funny baby.  Interestingly enough, Leman suggests that middle-borns turn out to be pretty well-rounded adults because they learn how to survive when “squished”.

Dr. Leman also explores how birth order affects your marriage, which birth order combos work best for holy matrimony, how employers using birth order research can inspire their employees to work where they are most comfortable and more!  All based on who came first.

Bottom Line: This book was an easy read with graphs and lists.  My only complaint was (and this is probably a personality flaw of mine) that a few times I felt like I was being taught how to manipulate others using my new found knowledge.  I don’t honestly believe this was the doctor’s intent, however, it did make me feel uncomfortable.  Overall, Leman delivers helpful information with practical application in an easy-to-understand format.  The topic is presented in an orderly fashion interlaced with humor, story telling and advice.  There is something for everyone here.  I recommend “The Birth Order Book” to anyone who has ever been born!

I borrowed this book from a friend and was NOT contacted by anyone affiliated with this book to solicit this post. 🙂

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