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Review: The New Birth Order Book by Dr Kevin Leman

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After reading this book, I had mixed feelings about it. The New Birth Order is entertaining, yet insightful, and packed with a lot of interesting information, but I think there is too much going on. To get the most from this book, I suggest that you read the first ten chapters and use the Table of Contents to decide which other chapters to read. The book includes a lot of parenting information in the later chapters, but do not let this deter you, because by just reading the first ten chapters you would have gotten your money’s worth.

Dr. Kevin Leman defines birth order as the science of understanding your place in the family line. He provides another way of categorizing and trying to understand people. Here are the characteristics that Dr. Leman uses in the book:

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Firstborn: Perfectionist, reliable, conscientious, list maker, well organized, hard driving, natural leader, critical, serious, scholarly, logical, doesn’t like surprises and loves computers. Leman divides firstborns into two major groups – (1) compliant nurturers and caregivers, and (2) aggressive movers and shakers.

Middle Child: Mediator, compromising, diplomatic, avoids conflict, independent, loyal to peers, many friends, a maverick, secretive and unspoiled.

Last Born: Manipulative, charming, blames others, attention seeker, tenacious, people person, natural salesperson, precocious, engaging, affectionate and loves surprises.

Only Child: Little adult by age seven, very thorough, very deliberate, high achiever, self-motivator, fearful, cautious, voracious reader, black and white thinker, has very high expectations, more comfortable around people who are older or younger and uses “very,” “extremely,” and “exactly” a lot. Only children also share many of the characteristics of firstborn children.

Based on the characteristics listed above, and using myself as an example, I exhibit many of the characteristics of a firstborn and only child. The problem is that I am neither, so why don’t I fit this mold? I am from a two-child family with a boy and a girl. Leman explains that “Firstborn personalities can also be created by being the oldest of your sex, having a five-year gap between you and the child above you of the same sex, or achieving a role reversal and taking over the firstborn privileges and responsibilities.” I am the firstborn girl so that’s why I function as a firstborn.

Leman includes factors that affect whether or not you exhibit the characteristics of another birth order group. Some of these factors are – death of a sibling, the number of years between siblings, adoptions, being in a blended family, the “critical” nature of the parents, and birth order of each parent.

“The New Birth Order is instructive and the author not only attempts to explain “why you are the way you are,” but, also suggests how to adopt the positive qualities of other birth orders to make our lives more enjoyable and fulfilling.”

I recommend this book, but I believe that there are several chapters that you can skip and still benefit from the information provided.

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