Birth Order: Jackie and Her Siblings

Savior or Dictator?
Dr. Phil talks to an eldest sister who says she is ready to stop playing the role of caretaker to her younger siblings.



"I'm the second of five children," says Jackie. "I think [my siblings] see me as a dictator. I am the catalyst for the deterioration of this family and I just want it to stop."

"My oldest brother [Kent] was born with mild to moderate mental retardation so, obviously, in the eyes of this family, I am the oldest. I fed them, bathed them, sang to them and read to them."

"I've come home recently due to a family crisis...and they are just draining the life out of me. I'm mentally, physically, and emotionally exhausted myself. I'm ready to cut the umbilical cord...Kent disappeared one week prior to his 42nd birthday without a trace. He has simply vanished. I knew I had to come home to be with my family to help them."

"Dr. Phil, I love my family more than anything on this planet. How do I get away from this feeling of being trapped?"
Kim and Keith

"I'm the middle child," explains Kim. "I certainly see Jackie as a dictator, because that's what she portrays to us...When I was 20, I listened. When I was 25, I listened. But now, I'm 34, and I finally, I've had it...I'm sick of it. Jackie always thinks she's right."

"I'm the fourth child in the family, the second son," explains Keith. "Jackie is nuts because she has one of these personalities where it's her way or the highway. With [my brother's disappearance], I feel like all our true personalities are really coming out. Jackie being overbearing, Kim just being too volatile, Kelvin [our baby brother] not being here at all...I feel completely pissed off a lot of times. I feel left out. I feel almost like I'm just here to take out the garbage."
"What I want you to know is that there are powerful forces that are working on everyone in this family that are not unique to your personalities," explains Dr. Phil. "You guys are sitting there thinking, 'Well [Jackie] is bossy and controlling.' Let me tell you, the dynamic of first-born females is exactly what you're saying."

"First-born females are high achievers, they are very controlling. They do take a lot of responsibility and act as co-parents or surrogate parents. Second-born [children are] typically rebellious, outspoken and in-your-face."

"Third-born children are much quieter about the whole thing. They'll have the same resentments [as the second-born] and it's not uncommon for second and third children to band together because of strength in numbers to fight of number one. And then we have the baby of the family: You get taken care of across the board. You've got enough years separating the two of you [first-born and baby of the family] so there isn't competition for control."
Dr. Phil says to Jackie, "You say, 'I don't want to do this anymore. I don't want to be the parent and try to be the savior of everybody.' Then you've got to make the decision to lay it down. Even a parent, which you aren't, has to let children fall and scrape their knee. You have to be willing to do that. I promise you if you stop being the controller, the world won't fall off its axis."

"You want to engage as brothers and sisters and there is this life pattern where first-borns are the controllers, second-borns are the rebels, third-borns quietly resent and bond with the one that'll charge the machine gun nest, and you [the baby] just sit in the rocking chair. And that's how this thing floats along until you acknowledge it and change it."