Michael Grose, an Adlerian-trained parenting expert and author of (Random House, £12.99), explains the basics.‘We’re in a Darwinian struggle from the moment we’re born, fighting for scarce resources within a family – our parents’ time, love and affection,’ he says.As the first-born boy, James didn’t struggle to establish his own identity as some middle-borns do, but, he says, ‘if I wanted something I definitely had to shout the loudest to make myself heard’.Gemma, 33, the middle of three sisters, found it harder to carve out her niche.
World leaders are also overwhelmingly first-born children.Growing up, I was the most likely to have blazing rows with my dad, I sympathised with the underdog and I’m not a volunteer.(At family get-togethers, I’m still the least helpful.) But a lonely outsider, struggling with an inferiority complex?‘But if I was pushed, if they messed up my room or touched my records, I’d rage.
Any threat to my power, I suppose.’ Another characteristic of first-borns, according to Frank Sulloway, author of Born to Rebel (Abacus), is caution and aversion to risk.
Tara, her younger sister, is the one who wants the cuddles, who frets if I’m not first at the door when school finishes.