Were you considered the responsible child while your younger brother or sister was the rebel or ‘Mummy’s little one’? According to experts as children we all played a specific role in our family, although which role was not always within our control. It may be due to gender, family culture or the order in which we were born. However the legacies of being the model child or the baby may continue to help or haunt us in our adult lives and understanding these silent family agreements can help us break behavioural patterns which could at times be disabling. Flavia Mazelin Salvi explains the four different roles:
The Model child is the ideal child. If this is you, you satisfy parents’ wishes and expectations and lives by their rules. Your strengths are perseverance and reliability, which help with professional success but when it comes to your personal life things are a little more complicated as your feelings were generally repressed in childhood
The Eternal child is the baby of the family. You generally get away with things and help your parents feel young. Charm and spontaneity are your strengths but in relationship you are often financially and emotionally dependent on your partner.
The Sick child always grabs the family’s (especially Mum’s) attention with allergies, viruses and all sorts of psychosomatic problems. Validating mum’s role as a devoted figure, you may become dependent on being cared for as you get older and this in turn may affect both your professional and personal life.
The Rebel child provokes, questions, refuses and is always in trouble. You test limits but also set them as you know how to say no. Rebel children make great leaders but need to learn to be more agreeable at times.
Breaking lifetime habits particularly when they are such a strong part of our identity can be incredibly hard. However by becoming more conscious of their effects it makes it possible to take control and even give us permission to start new ones. Who said the perfect child can’t say no, or the rebel can’t be agreeable and charming?