In every family, there definitely is a pecking order.

I’ve always been a student of “Life’s Truths” because they’re so…well…true. Being a parent of six, this one particularly has always intrigued me…“Life’s Truths #235”: In every family, there definitely is a pecking order.

I’ve seen it manifest in families over and over again and it seems to make no difference who the parents are, how many children they have, or where they are from. It flows like this…first child: leader and negotiator; second child (aka middle child/children): follower and wise tactician; last child: beneficiary.


The first child’s always the guinea pig. Hey, you have to practice on someone…and who better than your brand new baby girl. Remember, your first born won’t arrive with a set of instructions, and even if she did, you’d probably throw them away because by the time she arrives, you’ll foolishly consider yourself an expert on the subject…everyone does.

What happens is for some reason, the moment you discover you’re going to become parents, you develop this unquenchable thirst for knowledge on the subject. For a solid nine months you will consume every waking moment reading every parenting book known to mankind…and then some. You are determined to be the best parents on earth, and come hell or high water, nothing’s going to get in your way. By the time your new baby enters the world, boundaries are set and rules are already in effect. You’ve got this thing by the tail on a downhill drag. As I said, you are now an expert on the subject…or so you think.

A few years down the road as your first born evolves into a little girl, these rules and regulations will seem so rigid and unfair she will, out of necessity, quickly develop keen negotiating and leadership skills as she discovers ways to soften the blows. These talents will serve her well for the rest of her life.

But as with every first child come the spoils…as in spoiled rotten. So you quickly apply the antidote, and not a moment too soon…the second child.

By this time you believe you’ve got this parenting thing completely figured out. So…from a much more relaxed environment, the second child is welcomed to the family. Because there is less stress, the tensions dissipate somewhat as the lines drawn in the sand begin to fade a little. With this calmer atmosphere, the second child has less stress to deal with through the early years which tends to manifest as an easy going, self-assured personality.

As life goes on and family situations occur, this second child soon realizes the keen leadership skills of her older sister. She wisely learns to be very comfortable with following her sister’s lead…this approach gives her cover as she learns to work smart, not hard.
This brings me to the third child which in this example will be the last…”the baby of the family”. When he arrives, the entire family dynamic is transformed. This child is not only blessed with having two parents who love and guide him, but also two siblings who want to smother him with care as well. Let’s just say this last child is going to be loved to death….all his life. Thus the baby of the family will always remain the baby of the family…forever. The perks are endless.

There’s one final ingredient that won’t be denied that further ingrains the siblings’ pecking order. This is none other than “the memory factor”.

You have to understand, the older kids have not forgotten a single family rule or regulation they were tied to…not one! Consequently, they demand equality! As the wonderful ongoing family negotiations and debates take place, the oldest will lead the charge, the middle child will second and reinforce all motions as the baby of the family will take it all in and benefit from the decisions.
That’s just the way it is as “Life’s Truths #235” plays out.

Bill Peak

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