...self care is never a selfish act- it is simply good stewardship of the only gift I have, the gift I was put on earth to offer to others. Anytime we can listen to true self and give it the care it requires, we do so not only for ourselves but for the many others whose lives we touch.

Parker J. Palmer, Let Your Life Speak

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Birth Order Theory: Not for Youngest Children?

Most birth order books are garbage written by older siblings who are still trying learn how to share their toys in adulthood. Alot of this theory is written by so-called Christian authors. I have yet to find anyone holding this theory up who gives a favorable review of the youngest child's supposed role in the family structure. Maybe it's just me being a younger child, but my suggestion for these folks who love talking about birth order is to get a life, get therapy, or both.

Normally, birth order talk seems to leave little hope for the youngest child. They are totally useless. Sort of like parasites, they often do positive harm. Youngest children, so it goes, are sinners by nature of their birth order. The only non-condemning treatment I have read about seems to be from that parable of Jesus in Luke 15 about the two sons. In the story, the misdirected, malicious, selfish youngest son receives the grace of the father's unconditional acceptance, as does the misdirected, malicious, and selfish oldest! So it is God's grace in Jesus that defines us.

My suggestion for youngest children is to avoid birth theory folks altogether, or at least don't take them too seriously. Most of it is an attempt to explain why the olders suffer so- and that explanation usually rests on your existence. Make peace wherever you are and see it as a gift. You can be a leader wherever you are. The gift that olders have is that they are often able to teach the youngers what it means to share in a loving way. The gift that youngers have is that they are often able to listen and to be taught.

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Having been in ordained ministry in the UMC for 34 years, I've experienced the truth that although, clergy are frequently present for others, no one can offer what they don't have.That's why if you're a clergy person, you need someone who will listen to you. Not the random next closest person available, but rather someone like a spiritual director, a therapist, a peer who can be fully present to you. I hope the links and posts you find here will give you ideas, humor, hope and encouragement. Scott Endress

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