Book Review :: The New Birth Order Book

The New Birth Order Book: Why You Are the Way You Are

by Kevin Leman (Fleming H. Revell, 1985, 1998)

Inside the Pages

Dr. Kevin Leman, a psychologist with a Christian worldview, has a theory – that who you are and how you are is largely based on your birth order. If you tend to be a visionary and perfectionist, you may be a first born (like me!); if you are mysterious and sometimes moody, but have many friends, you are probably a middle child; if you are easily upset when you do not get your way, you are likely the youngest child of your family, and if you are a voracious reader and interact well with adults, you may be the only child. However, it’s not always very simple to pinpoint! There are many varying factors, and of course, we are all so unique.

Worth Repeating

“A. perfectionist, reliable, conscientious, list maker, well organized, hard driving, natural leader, critical, serious, scholarly, logical, doesn’t like surprises” (15)

“As important as a child’s birth order may be, it’s only one an influence, not a final fact of life forever set in cement and unchangeable as far as how that child will turn out.” (338)

From My Perspective

I find it interesting that this book was published the year I was born. Obviously I needed it. And honestly, it really did help me. Dr. Leman’s book is insightful and helpful. The book’s insight into person’s personality traits and their strengths and their weaknesses is interesting and enlightening. I am most definitely the oldest child – which I was already very fully aware of this reality, but I also carry some only child traits – who I tend to make fun of and feel sorry for because only children, in my experience, tend to be obnoxious when they are young and they do not have any siblings to set them straight. In all seriousness, I realized that I carry only child traits because my parents treated me like an adult from a very young age. I also realized that even though my mom is the middle child in her family, she is also the first girl – which means she is a middle child/first child mix -which makes for a very dominating yet also very emotional personality – yes, that’s my mom in a nice little nutshell! My mom and I fought alot – it’s true, even if you don’t believe it – and I think it’s because I am the oldest child and my mom carries oldest child traits, which I never really realized until I read this fancy little (meaning, quite insightful) handbook. How helpful this book could have been in my relationship with my mom if I had only read it earlier! And how helpful its insights are going to be with my husband and one day, with our precious children.

The book is in someways an easy read and in others, a very hard read. The book’s terms are easy to understand and the author tells funny short stories. At the same time, though, you are coming face to face with yourself – and sometimes it’s a bit shocking to see the real you in the mirror of another’s knowledgeable insights. You also come face to face with the other significant people in your life and their strengths and weaknesses and how you are to relate with them, like your spouse or your children. With the helpful tips on parenting, I am sure I will be pulling this book out the minute my oldest child (who is yet to be) can walk and talk!

Dr. Leman understands that his writing is not infallible and that people are unique, created in the image of God. The author also understands that people can be studied and theories can be formulated and for the most part proven, which he does well in this book. There are some great, gospel centered counselors who find Leman’s work helpful and there are other who personally do not fit into the theories’ categories and do not typically use this work’s information in counseling. This theory is not the gospel.

With all of this said, I think this book is worth the reading (Look at all the helpful knowledge I gained!)- and its companion, The First Born Advantage, especially if you are the first born child (or tend to function as the first born in your family) – so that you can learn a little bit more about yourself.

I encourage you: let not self knowledge be the end, but self knowledge as a means by which you better reflect the glory of God as you love Him and love those around you well. The Lord was so sweet and gracious to me to teach me these lessons about myself and my mom. I am excited about applying this knowledge so that I can better love and respect her.

number one!
number one!
number two!
number two!
number three!
number three!
number four!
number four!
number five!
number five!

{beautiful photographs courtesy of courtney navey with always autumn studios –}

One thought on “Book Review :: The New Birth Order Book

  1. Rachel’s reveiw of the book is very accurate, I read years ago….however I have to dispute the fact that she has “only child” traits because we treated her like an adult…..she assumed the role of adult, and sometimes it was easier, and sometimes it was not….ask her sometime how many time I had to remind her that I was the MOM! love you baby!

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