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What Effect Does Birth Order Have on Your Mental Health?

Dr Daniel Amen and Tana Amen BSN RN On The Brain Warrior's Way Podcast
We all know the stereotypes. Only children are spoiled. Oldest children are responsible and ambitious. Middle children crave attention and are natural people-pleasers, and youngest children are free spirits. Are any of these true? And, if so, how do they affect us as we grow? In this episode of The Brain Warrior’s Way Podcast, Dr. Daniel and Tana Amen talk about the ‘Sibling / Birth Order Dragons’ which are born out of the highs and lows you share with your siblings during your childhood, and the advantages and disadvantages they bring.
For more info on Dr. Daniel Amen’s new book, “Your Brain is Always Listening”, visit https://yourbrainisalwayslistening.com/


Daniel Amen, MD:

Welcome to The Brain Warrior’s Way Podcast. I’m Dr. Daniel Amen.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

And I’m Tana Amen. In our podcast, we provide you with the tools you need to become a warrior for the health of your brain and body.

Daniel Amen, MD:

The Brain Warrior’s Way Podcast is brought to you by Amen Clinics, where we have been transforming lives for 30 years using tools like Brain SPECT imaging to personalize treatment to your brain. For more information, visit amenclinics.com.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

The Brain Warrior’s Way Podcast is also brought to you by Brain MD, where we produce the highest quality nutraceuticals to support the health of your brain and body. To learn more, go to brainmd.com.

Daniel Amen, MD:

Welcome back, everyone. We are so grateful that you’re with us. We’re in the middle of, Your Brain is Always Listening, and we just started the they, them, and other dragon section.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

Anybody else ever wonder who they is all the time? They said, they did, they … Yeah, there’s so many theys. Let’s identify them.

Daniel Amen, MD:

I know. My mom used to do that.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

My mom too. They said, and it’s like, it’s now gospel. They said.

Daniel Amen, MD:

So pay attention, and hopefully you’ll learn something. If you do, write it down, post it on any of your social media sites, #brainwarriorswaypodcast. If you leave us a comment, question or review, we’ll enter you into a drawing to win either The Relentless Courage of a Scared Child, Tana’s book that she’ll sign for you, or Your Brain is Always Listening. You just tell us which one after we announce the winner. And you [crosstalk [00:02:03].

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

And we have a winner, this is Debbie. So Debbie, you get to choose which book you’d like, Your Brain is Always Listening or The Relentless Courage of a Scared Child. I think she’s probably going to choose yours because she said she’s reading mine currently.

“Thank you, Dr. Amen and Tana for sharing and delivering the messages you do. Not only do I subscribe to the podcast, but I buy supplements from Brain MD, I am reading Tana’s new book, and in the process of booking a SPECT scan for my adult daughter, who is on the autism spectrum. We’ve seen some amazing changes in her since starting the pro brain biotic omega-3 and D-3. I know once we have the scan and follow up with Dr. Pack, there may be changes in her supplements and some new ones. We look forward to see what Alison is fully capable of once her brain and body needs are met. I also enjoy the guests you have on your podcast. So a big heartfelt thank you for all you do.”

Thanks Debbie. So I’m guessing she’s going to want your book since it just came out, but you let us know.

Daniel Amen, MD:

And she has yours already.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

She already has mine. So, yeah.

Daniel Amen, MD:

We’re grateful to all of you. I mean, that’s why we do what we do, because we want to be helpful and tame my abandoned and visible and significant dragon. The dragon we’re talking about today, my God, they’ve haunted me forever. So your brain is always listening to the dragons from the past, and other people, alive and dead. And last time we talked about the parent dragon. Your brain is always listening to your mother in your head, and you tried not to listen to your father in your head.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

Yes. I sort of put ear plugs in.

Daniel Amen, MD:

And the next one is the sibling and birth order dragons. And you’re an only child. And the research on only children is actually really interesting.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

It’s interesting though, we have to talk about this too. I’m an only child who then had half siblings much later in life, who then became the oldest and the responsible one. And we have to talk about the confusion that some people feel with mixed families.

Daniel Amen, MD:

And I think almost half of the families today are mixed families.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

Right. Because I still am that person who’s the responsible one in my family, taking care of everybody.

Daniel Amen, MD:

And they looked up to you, they wanted you to solve their problems.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

Even when I didn’t want to.

Daniel Amen, MD:

So if you’re the oldest child, or the only child, you get 3,000 more hours of parenting than the other children.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

Yeah, it’s interesting. So Chloe, our little one, now she’s the only, and the youngest in a mixed family. So she was raised as an only, but she’s got step siblings that are your children who were adult children, so she was raised by herself. So raised as an only child around adults and professionals, around doctors, nurses.

And we hear all the time from her teachers. And just recently, she got an email from a teacher saying, you handle yourself so incredibly different than other high school students. And so they wrote her a letter of recommendation for college. And it’s interesting to see how differently only children who are raised with so many adults … Now, the problem with that though, she didn’t socialize well with children at all. And that can be a problem.

Daniel Amen, MD:

Well, a lot of only children end up with the special, spoiled, and entitled dragon. I clearly didn’t get that dragon.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

Me either.

Daniel Amen, MD:

But the oldest, often responsible just like you said. More successful early in life because they have two coaches, their mom and their dad, whether they’re together or not. Of the first 23 astronauts, 21 of them were oldest children.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

Wow.

Daniel Amen, MD:

Of the 46 presidents, more than half were the oldest children. And only six of them were the youngest.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

Wow. Wow. So, leadership.

Daniel Amen, MD:

So where you fall in line makes a big difference. They’re not the best drivers, middle children are the best drivers. And they’re not as monogamous. The middle children, lucky for you, are the most monogamous of all [crosstalk [00:06:57] the birth order. Because they tend to be the peacemakers. So if you’re like me with five sisters and an older brother … the oldest child is special. The youngest child is special. The oldest child of a certain gender is special. So I have an older sister, an older brother.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

You’re the second son in a Lebanese family.

Daniel Amen, MD:

Which means I’m completely expendable, I’m completely not special. And I felt that growing up. And plus, my older brother, for whatever his own reasons, beat me up virtually every day until I was six or seven. And so there was a level of anxiety that I had knowing I was not the special child. It was really clear my older brother was, because in a middle Eastern family, the oldest boy is special. And wow, even though my dad owned grocery stores, you could totally … you knew it, you could feel it.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

Well, your dad was very traditional, too.

Daniel Amen, MD:

Well, and actually wondered why the girls wanted to go to college. It’s like, well, you don’t need to do that.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

Right. He actually thought it was ridiculous, it was a waste of time. But I felt that.

Daniel Amen, MD:

Which was a different time.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

That’s a generational thing because I felt that. My stepdad said the same thing to me. I wrote about this in my book, The Relentless Courage of a Scared Child. I was really smart, and he said, why are you going to waste your time going to college? Especially because I wanted to go to medical school or do something professional. And he said, why would you do that? You’re going to get married and have babies. And he’s like, you need to just find a rich guy and settle down.

And I’m like, what? It made no sense to me that they wouldn’t encourage me. No one helped me figure out college, no one guided me. No one taught me. I never toured a college, no one helped me with college applications, nothing.

Daniel Amen, MD:

Well, that’s actually interesting, because no one helped me either. Because no one had graduated from college in my family. I was the first one to graduate from college. And of my six siblings, only two of us graduated from college. So education wasn’t a value, but somehow it became a value to me. And I knew I was going to go to college. I wanted to be a veterinarian, and then after I was an infantry medic, I decided I could go to medical school.

So where are you in your birth order? Oh, another interesting fact is the youngest children are more spoiled. I mean, that just makes sense, but they also are more likely to go to rehab. They’re more likely to struggle with substance abuse because of the trauma they feel, because they’re often the smallest, picked on, always. Could view themselves as less than, even though … My youngest sister didn’t go to rehab, but my parents were wildly different with her than they were with my older sister.

I remember my older sister wanted a bikini and I think she got beaten for it. I think that corporal punishment was alive and well in my house. And when Joanne wanted one, which was like 10 years later, my mom went with her to pick it out.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

Oh, that’s so funny.

Daniel Amen, MD:

And I remember my older sister going, this is not right. It is not fair.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

And it’s funny because as only children, as I’m listening to you, I can see certain traits, like parenting styles of both for me, with my daughter. So like the driving thing, I’m so freaked out about her driving. So I’m so cautious about letting her take any kind of risks. I’m so paranoid about it. I’m always watching her on Life 360. You know what I mean?

So I hold on a little bit tight, but at the same time she’s ultra … she’s like a very intense leader, super responsible, really very good with adults, that kind of a thing. So very interesting how, even as a parent, you can see some of those traits in how you parent. Because she’s a oldest and a youngest.

Daniel Amen, MD:

So We would love for you to write us your experience on birth order and how you believe that has impacted your psyche. When we come back, we’re going to talk about the children dragons. It’s so important, because once you have children, you basically have their voice in your head.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

Always.

Daniel Amen, MD:

Always. Stay with us.

Tana Amen, BSN RN:

If you’re enjoying The Brain Warrior’s Way Podcast, please don’t forget to subscribe so you’ll always know when there’s a new episode. And while you’re at it, feel free to give us a review or five-star rating, as that helps others find the podcast.

Daniel Amen, MD:

If you’re interested in coming to Amen Clinics, use the code podcast10 to get a 10% discount on a full evaluation at amenclinics.com. For more information, give us a call at (855) 978-1363.