How do you help your youngest become successful like their siblings? Listen in to learn more about how to motivate your last-born on this episode of Have a New Kid by Friday Podcast.
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Doug: The baby of the family, the spoiled one, the one that gets away with murder. How do you raise that last one, when you’re like, “It’s the last one. Let’s just love on it. Let’s not push too much”? How do you change your last born, train them up to become a go-getter? That’s the question we get to ask Dr. Leman. How do we raise our last born well?
Hi, I’m Doug Terpening.
Andrea: And I’m Andrea.
Doug: And we are so glad that you are with us today. And if this happens to be your first time, welcome a bazillion. And we want to let you know this is for your education and entertainment purposes only. If the subject matter raises any concerns for you or your child, please go seek a local professional for help. Well, Dr. Leman, our question for today is training up your last born. And just for the record, where are you in the birth order?
Dr. Leman: Well, I’m a baby. I always said my litmus test when I do television, or radio for that matter, is to get the host to laugh at what I say, or specifically on TV to hear the audio guy or the lighting guy in the background or the cameraman, or woman, laughing as well. So babies of the family grow up. They have natural competitors, natural prey, if you will, above them in the family. If you’re the baby of the family, chances are you have several parents, more than two, because those siblings become pseudo parents, in many ways. They’re in charge of you. They get in trouble for what you did. Many of them are born leaders. And so where does that leave you as a baby? And I guess that’s the question of the day, Doug, that you posed to us is how do you get this baby to suck it up, become a leader, become involved, be successful?
And I think quite frankly, if I had to answer that question succinctly, I would say, “Well, in many ways it sort of takes care of itself.” And the reason I say that is that a lot of times babies of the families get discounted. In other words, you’ll hear siblings say, “Oh, don’t pay attention to her. Don’t pay attention to him.” And they are the ones that probably are the late bloomers as they grow up. They figure out, “Wait a minute. I know a few things.” A lot of us will develop the attitude. “Okay. Game on. I’ll show you.” So they tend to be late bloomers. So like I say, I think a lot of it naturally takes place as the youngest grows older.
Andrea: So you’re saying that it might be more our perspective than their own perspective?
Dr. Leman: Right.
Andrea: That we think that they’re not a go-getter.
Doug: Then why do we think that babies are the goof-offs, the undisciplined ones of the world? Why is that the stereotype that we have for the youngest?
Dr. Leman: Well, this is going to sound contradictory of what I just said, but they are out there a little bit. They are the most likely to be the comedian of the family, for example. And, again, keep in mind, everybody’s listening now. We’re not talking that all babies are the same here. Okay? There are a lot of variables that create that youngest child, and it’d be a functional firstborn and all those kinds of things. We won’t get into that right now. But just keep in mind that we’re not trying to paint the brush so wide that it encompasses all babies of the family. But they don’t always give themselves credit. It’s easy for the baby to lay back and let the others take over. And that becomes the easy way out for them. But like I say, over a period of time, a lot of babies figure out, “Wait a minute, I’m more capable than I thought I was.” And again, some of them develop that attitude, “I’ll show you.”
So babies of the family can become very, very successful in life. Ronald Reagan, baby of the family, former CEO and chairman of the board at Southwest, one of my all-time favorite people I’ve ever met in life, Herb Kelleher, baby of the family, youngest of four brothers. But if you look at Herb Kelleher as an example and Southwest Airlines, I love to make the point that that’s a fun airplane to fly. He made it fun. How the principles that he guided Southwest Airlines were, were very controversial and different. So babies tend to put a little bit different spin on things. So the goofiness, the humor, the play it by ear mentality is stereotypically true for most babies, but it can also be turned into great creativity and getting out of the box. And you can lead from the bottom of the family as well as you can from the top.
Doug: So this is to help parents that are dealing with the last borns. One of the dangers that we’ve talked about and Andrea and I have seen, at least I’ve seen, is that sometimes we’ve used the tree analogy that the tree is so full, and there’s no room for the last borns. And they kind of just drift off out of the family because the older two have dominated all the oxygen in the room or whatever you want to say. How do we make sure that that doesn’t happen to our youngest?
Dr. Leman: Well, all I have to do is look in the mirror to answer that question, Doug, because if you remember, I had two very successful siblings above me. I’m the baby of the family. I graduated fourth in the bottom of my class in high school. I couldn’t get in college. When I got in college, I got admitted on probation, but I’m a typical baby of the family that grew up, that matured, that figured out, “Wait a minute, I can do a few things in life.” And you’ve heard me say that it was an old math teacher who encouraged me. She was the one that said, “Kevin, I’ve seen you take over classes. I’ve heard teachers talk about you in the teacher’s lounge for years. Have you ever thought you could use those skills you have for something positive?” Well, that was my journey. And I think it’s a journey of a lot of youngest children.
Now, back to parents, lucky for me, I never felt like my parents didn’t love me. So they did a great job of loving me anyway. My mother would laugh at my antics. She told a story about when I was three years old, she had me on a dog run from a maple tree to an elm tree in our backyard. And I remember I was probably about 40 years old and I was kidding her. I said, “Mom, what’d you think, I was part Weimaraner?” And I would get her laughing so much. And she said, “Well, if I didn’t have you on that line, you’d run away.” So I think the parent that loves their kid anyway, is the parent who will see that their kids who they see or they view as maybe not as successful as they should be, with time and patience on your part and encouragement on your part, those kids can learn to fly.
Doug: Well, is that the key to raising the youngest is patience? Because how often do we compare, regretfully, our children, right? That the youngest does feel like a goof-off?
Dr. Leman: Well, I think what happens is we get wore down as parents. Think of the effort you put it under the firstborn and the worry and the concern. And ask yourself as a parent, were you more worried about little James or your youngest child? And see, it’s very natural for parents just to lighten up as you go through the birth order, and you learn that things like dirt will not kill. And you roll with the punches a lot better as a parent, by the time your youngest is born. You’re not as worrisome. And that helps create the personality where the child is a lot more loose and not so uptight as maybe a firstborn sibling is.
So, again, I go back to in many ways, this sort of naturally works out for a youngest child. Babies do well in life. Babies have high personal skills. Think of your high school classes, everybody, the high school you grew up in. I want you to think of the stars in your graduating class. If you can’t remember, get the old yearbook out and take a look. And have you ever done a little research to see what happened to those people? I know this is a sample of one high school, but I look at some of our leaders, and a lot of them didn’t do much in life. It was kids from the middle of the pack. And maybe even some like me that were at the bottom of the hill that actually did a little better than some of the others.
Doug: How does that relate to the last born? Are you just saying that don’t discount where they are today or?
Dr. Leman: Well, I’m saying what does it take to do well in high school? Okay, let just use high school as an example. What does it take to be successful in high school? Literally, in general, you got to be really good at following the rules. If you follow the rules, you’re going to what? You’re going to do your homework, you’re going to pay attention, you’re going to become involved, you’re going to do all these wonderful things. And so how much creativity is there in that? I don’t think there’s that much creativity in that, following the rules. I mean, I’m old as dirt, and I still say I never been real big on rules. And I haven’t been.
In my relationship with my Maker, I’ve had that discussion with God, lots of times, that, “I should be more conscious, Lord, of Your rules because Your rules are good for us.” I’m not a real rule-oriented person. But what I’m saying is that high school and early years is not always a great predictor of the kind of person that you’re going to be at age 35 or 40, the kind of parent you’re going to be. So I think those of us who grew up feeling loved and accepted for who we are… Now, you’re asking how do we help a baby? Listen to those words, for those of us who grew up feeling accepted for who we are, by our family, by those primary people, our mom, our dad, those significant people in our life, those are the ones who will do life well.
Andrea: So I hear you saying that maybe those babies, it’s going to be a while before you see them balloon, so to speak. But like Doug said earlier, be patient. And it might not be until after college or whatever, that they start to settle into whatever their strength is and really start to bloom.
Dr. Leman: That’s right, Andrea. I’m sure there’s parents right now, listening to us, saying, “Leman, would you just tell me what to do with my baby of the family? He doesn’t pick up after himself. His room looks like a tornado hit it. He does get away with murder.” And I go, “Wait a minute, time out. He gets away with murder? Are you an authoritarian parent, or you’re a parent in authority? If you’re a parent in authority, hey, this is on you he gets away with murder. You need to hold him more accountable.” And so there’s teachable moments in the life of the baby of the family, where sooner or later, everybody sort of figures out what that baby’s gig is all about and they don’t get sucked into that web. They don’t get sucked into that trap. And they figure out the baby, and pretty soon the baby figures out, “These antics, I’m fooling myself here. Life’s going by. I better get together.” And so babies do change.
Youngest children have, again, high personal skills. They do well in sales. So some of these kids that you older siblings are going to write off, be careful because they might go flying by you before too long. Because they have to know how to get around people, growing up as a baby in the family. It’s like a maze. And that youngest child figures out how to get through that maze, how to get around other people. So do they become manipulative? Yes, they do. Are they social butterflies? They certainly are. And they learn to navigate the many waters of life pretty good. So every birth order has its pluses. Okay? One isn’t inherently better than the other. But the entrepreneurs, where do you suppose entrepreneurs come from in the family? They’re not the firstborn children. They’re more likely to be the CEO of a big organization, the president of this or that, but your entrepreneur, there’s your middle child. There’s your baby of the family who does things way out of the box.
Doug: When we come back, I want to ask you about how do we help make sure that our oldest don’t resent our youngest? But I want to talk about the latest offer from our friends at Revell Baker Book. It is The Birth Order Book for $2.99. You can get it between now and the end of October of 2020, wherever your eBooks are sold, for a mere $2.99. And Dr. Leman, when did you write The Birth Order Book?
Dr. Leman: It was written in 1984. It was published in 1985. It followed the million seller, Making Children Mind Without Losing Yours. But the nice thing about… In fact, if someone has a copy of the original Birth Order Book in prime condition, you have no idea how much that baby’s worth. That’s a tough book to find, in a hardback. And it had three little eggs on the bottom of it. It was a white cover with black lettering, and the three little eggs. And who should pop out of the third egg but a caricature of me?
Yes, it’s really funny. But that book was revised three different times, twice, significantly major. And the last time was a whole overhaul of the book where 70% of… And those of you who can download this book for $2.99, listen to what I’m about to say. You read the book years ago, okay? That book has 70% new material in it, the book that’s out there now. So it’s been in so many different languages. It’s a book that’s loved by everybody. How you can not like The Birth Order Book is beyond me because it’s engaging. It’s fun to read. It gives you a handle on how to view people in your family, how to look at yourself, your marriage, how you rear your kids. It’s like an all purpose flour. It can be used in so many situations. So don’t be afraid to download that puppy and suggest it to your friends and your kids.
Kids love that book. Kids who do reports on it for school, I guarantee you they get an A, because the teachers find the topic fascinating, that these little bears, these little cubs can come out of the same den and yet be so uniquely different.
Doug: It’s a great book. I highly encourage you. It is always fascinating to find out when coworkers of mine, what order they are in The Birth Order Book, and go, “Oh, that makes a lot more sense.” So you can get it now, wherever you get your eBooks for $2.99 between now and the end of October of 2020. And now, a no-nonsense parenting moment with Dr. Kevin Leman.
Dr. Leman: Talk to anybody who’s successful, okay? I’ll let you define what’s successful. And ask them about the failure in their life. Truly successful people have had lots of failures in their life, but you know what? They’ve used those stumble blocks, those stones, as jumping off points, they’ve learned from their mistakes. That’s why it’s important for you as a parent to give your kids opportunity to fail. Failure isn’t fatal as someone once said. So don’t get your knickers in an uproar, okay? Don’t get those panties too tight. And sometimes you parents do exactly that. Okay? Let them learn. Remember, failure isn’t fatal. It can be good for you.
Doug: So Dr. Leman, we were sitting around the dinner table yesterday, and the youngest said something like, “Well, I didn’t have to X, Y, and Z.” And the three just blew up, like, “I can’t believe it. You always have gotten away with murder, geez Louise.” Right? And that’s not the first time we’ve heard that. How do we make sure that our older children don’t resent that younger child?
Dr. Leman: Well, I’m going to say this as clear as I can. Good luck. Yeah. Good luck with that because you are going to resent that baby because the baby… Again, the rules. The rules lessen as you have more children, they don’t increase. They lessen. You’re easier on the youngest child. “Mom, you never let me do that when I was eight years old,” that kind of thing. I’m just telling you, it’s a natural progression.
I tell a story, it’s sort of a funny story about kids being the enemy. And I say kids go to bed with a plan. And they’re in bed, and an 11-year-old and 10-year-old sleep together in the same room. And they have a conversation that goes like this, “Hey, are you hungry?” “Yeah.” “Hey, you go out and tell Mom you want a treat. I ain’t going out there.” “No, you go there. You’re the oldest.” “No, no, no. Mom likes you more. You go out there. Tell her you just want a little snack.” “No, I’m not going out there.” And so they start to argue with each other. And the oldest says, “Wait a minute. What about Herbie?” Well, who’s Herbie? Herbie’s the four-year-old who’s sound asleep in the next room. So what do the two mobsters do at age 11 and 10? They go in and wake up little Herbie.
“Herbie, Herbie.” “Wow. What are you waking me up for? I’m tired.” “Herbie, come here, go out and tell mom and dad you’re…” “I’m not hungry. I’m tired.” “No, you go out there and tell mom and dad right now you’re hungry. You want a snack.” And so there’s a little obedient Herbie, he’s being muscled by his older brothers, with his blankie in tow, and he comes out. And mom hears the little footsteps and turns and looks at her husband with astonishment, and then says, “What are you doing out of bed, Herbie?” “I want a snack.” “Oh, Herbie. All right, one quick snack. And then it’s right into bed.”
I love to point out, and what do you see down the hallway? Two shadows creeping toward you. And what do they say when you say, “What are you two doing out of bed?” “Herbie’s out of bed.” And see, what I’m saying is oldest children sometimes use babies as fodder. And I like to say, if I’m teaching a seminar, why do they send baby Herbie out? Because if he gets killed, who cares? We don’t like the kid anyway.
Doug: Andrea, does he sound like a resentful youngest to you, or is it just me?
Andrea: Not at all. Not at all.
Doug: Not at all. Oh, okay. Dr. Leman, have you been able to resolve your childhood issues? It sounds like maybe on this podcast you’re reliving.
Dr. Leman: Well, no, it’s fun because I’ve told this, I think, a zillion times, but I talk with my sister, and she lives in New York, I live in Arizona, at least two times a week. And my brother and his wife, at least two times a week. During the coronavirus, we were probably speaking three to four times a week just because we all had more time. So I came from a very close family. And so to answer your questions, they still like to recount the antics that their younger brother did. They laugh with me, not so much at me anymore, but I respect them. And Sally, the oldest in the family, is as classy a lady as there is. My brother, Jack, was a devoted clinical psychologist for years and dealt with kids that were really tough to deal with. And so we’ve all been successful in life.
But, again, we came from nothing. We had very few pennies in our family, but we did have a mom who was the rock of the family who was a great person of faith. And we had a dad who had lots of limitations, but we all knew that he loved us, despite it all. So, parents, those are the ingredients, the love, the acceptance, the affirmation, the communication that goes on. That pays off. I always tell parents when the parents are wondering what’s going to happen to this 12-year-old and 13-year-old who are at each other’s throat, it seems like, every moment of the day, and I say, “Well, I got news for you. They’ll be in each other’s weddings. And things will be better.” So that basic love, love permeates about everything there is to permeate in life. And if there’s love in a family, that’s going to carry you through.
Andrea: Well, it’s been really fun to hear this perspective on the last born, on the baby of the family, and just how much their creativity come to full bloom and they can really go places with it when they get older. And, I don’t know, it’s just opened my perspective. So I really appreciate that. To close, I was wondering what are two tips you would give to parents raising their last born? You may have already said them, but two tips to take home.
Dr. Leman: Well, that’s a good one, Andrea. And I think number one, for sure, would be to make sure that your youngest child has as much responsibility as they need to have in your family. That’s number one, is to keep them responsible. And maybe this is just one A to that is just be careful. You’re talking to a little person who can be very manipulative. They can play you like a violin. And just be aware of the fact that they have high social skills that might really test your mettle. And it gets back to loving them in a way that really is a guiding influence in their life. A baby sees things differently. I never forget in fourth grade, I won’t repeat what I did, but what I did was not the coolest thing I ever did in my life, but they put me outside of the room. And what did I do? Did I stand there? I mean, what do you guys think I did? This is a quiz.
Doug: I think you went and found something to play with. Or you started acting out so they could watch you as you acted out in the back. Some sort of, something goofy.
Dr. Leman: Okay. Andrea, what do you think?
Andrea: You’re outside the back door?
Dr. Leman: Yeah. I went home. I lived about a mile from school, fourth grade. So how old was I? 10 years old. I walked home. My mother was a working nurse. Now, when I grew up, all the kids, their mothers were at home in house dresses. Not mine. My mom was in her nurse’s uniform. She was a superintendent of a convalescent home for children. So they put me outside the door. I went home, I got my fishing pole. I walked about a quarter mile to the creek, and I went fishing. Was I worried? No, I went fishing. That’s the baby of the family, a little aberrant, a little off the wall. That little firstborn you put outside there’d be standing like a wooden soldier 20 minutes later. I could see Andrea out there. She’d be at attention. She’d be tearing up, thinking, “Oh, I’m in trouble. What am I going to do? Oh my goodness.” Me, I’m fishing. I still laugh about that stuff today.
Doug: Well, thank you for that. As a fellow youngest in the family, I did hear some definitely bias towards youngest from Dr. Leman. I do not think he’s unbiased, Andrea.
Andrea: I don’t think so.
Doug: Yeah. So, everybody, just be aware of that. And if you want a clear perspective, go read the book, Birth Order Book for $2.99 between now and the end of October. And we hope that you can just love that youngest kid more and more and more. And learn how to accept them as they are, as Dr. Leman said, but give them enough responsibility. So it was fun to be with you today. And we look forward to the next time.
Andrea: Have a great week.
Doug: Take care. Bye-bye.