What is the Role of the Second Born or the Third Born in the Family?

If you’re not in our Facebook group, get in our Facebook group, search Five Minute Fatherhood… The question we got this week in the group, from our community that we actually get a lot is, what is the role of the second born in the family or the third born in the family? And the reason we get this question is we talk a lot about the oldest being given …

When you’re developing a family team, we do think it’s both critically important to actually give your kids more ownership over themselves and their siblings than we tend to in the West, and we actually think that plays and goes really, really well. One way we do that with Kinsley is calling her the captain of the team, that comes with a certain amount of responsibility and authority, but also a certain amount of blessing. But I want to hear you guys talking about this, because you guys have played this out all the way through multiple decades, and so what does that look like? Because that first one is easy. It does make sense with the captain. It does make sense creating a sibling leader, but then how do you then make sure you’re giving ownership of every single kid to their role?

Yeah. So the way that this is often phrased is, if the first born has this extra responsibility, what’s the second born’s job? What’s the thirds born? What’s the fourth? What’s the fifth? And you guys, the answer to that is that there is something unique about the first born, in other words, they have a predefined role in the family because they have so much influence. But the ideal is actually to discover what is inside of each child and then call that out. That’s actually the best thing that. There’s, an automatic responsibility that comes along with being the first born, there is not an automatic responsibility that comes along with being a second or third or fourth. And so what you want to begin to do is to define for them as you’re discussing and discovering who they are, what part of the team … what do they bring to the team? What kind of gifts come alive to them as they’re interacting with the team?

So those second, third, fourth, and this includes the first born as well, because they’re not just going to have that extra responsibility. They’re also going to have other gifts and passions as well. So who’s the glue? Who’s the peacemaker? Who is the beautifier? Who’s the helper? Who is the keeper of the family stories? Who’s the evangelist? The teacher? The musician? The comedian? All of these things are various aspects of what your children are bringing to your family that you want to celebrate, you want to call out, you want to discuss. And so, one of the ways I think about this is, on a team, what happens when somebody is going out and scouting for different teammates.

They’re running around looking at the latest football players or basketball players, that the job of a scout is to develop a scouting report on each of these prospective teammates, and really to deliver to the coach or the general manager, hey, this is where I think that they thrive and where they would fit in and how they would help our organization. And so it’s important to actually think through, what’s the scouting report you would write about your second born, your third born, your fourth born?

That’s what I’m talking about. That defines a little bit more of their role, and what you want to do is call that out with the same level of intensity and clarity as you can call out the firstborn and their obvious role as being more of a leader, more of a tone setter of the family. So that’s a way to think about it is, there’s a lot of freedom here, but you don’t want the freedom to become so vast that you’re not calling out the specifics. And that’s what I’m encouraging you guys to really think about. How do you do that Jeff?

Yeah, well I think it’s exactly that, of like, I think it’s actually a privilege and a really, really fun activity as a dad to go hunting for those parts of our kids. Of like, they’re in there, call them out, allow them to flourish, you support them. Because also what a gift as a parent, and we know anyone who’s done this, whether it’s a parent or a coach in our life, who’s called out something in us that maybe we didn’t see yet, but they saw because they were wiser and older, and more spirit led. That you’re like, oh, and then you step into that reality and it’s a blessing and it’s a gift and you feel so alive when you step into who you are. And parents have that opportunity, I think, for kids. And it’s so weird, man, in the west how we actually … We think that’s actually constrictive, and we think that’s wrong, and we think that that is like handcuffs on someone.

That we’re not given, and that’s because we have this weird idealism of the blank slate. That if you’re not giving this kid just the absolute neutral possibility to be anything and whoever they want, whenever they want, then you are failing them. And that is just absolute trash. And we’ve talked about that for a hundred episodes previously, on many different layers. I can’t even go into that, why it’s such a bad idea. And obviously our country is showing why that is. But one thing I’ll say is this, if you’re going to be a family team, if you’re going to be a team, no sports team looks at 12 people on the bench and says, “What position are you?” “I don’t know.” “What position are you?” “I don’t know.” “What position you?” “I don’t know”

You would say that’s the worst football team in history and they’re definitely not winning a game. If every single one just says, “I don’t know who I am or what my job is or what my role is.” And so you have to actually understand, that’s a gift that you get to … Actually a coach’s job is to study, because, yes, you can laud it over them in a bad way. Yes, you can say you’re going to play something you shouldn’t play. That’s wrong. That’s detrimental. But I don’t know, most people like that, actually. Those horror stories, I don’t actually ever see that much. And so I think it’s weird that we sometimes define a whole skill of parenting based on a few horror stories of a dad who maybe was oppressive or lorded it over them or wasn’t spirit led.

We’re talking when your spirit led, when your sacrificial, when you love your kids, when you love the Lord, that you actually have an immense privilege to be able to say, “I’m going to study them, I’m going to help them and I’m a shape them and mold them in the direction that they’re already probably going.” And it is a responsibility, but it is also a privilege. And then lastly I’ll say too, it’s a weird game we play in the west too where we don’t do it where it’s obvious. If I were to go down to the bench and they would all say, “I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t know,” but you have a 350 pound, six, seven foot man, and then you have 5’10” guy who’s ripped and can run really fast. I would guess I would know which one’s the lineman and I would guess I would know which one’s the running back, so again, we do a disservice by saying, “Oh no, you guys can all play different positions.”

No, that’s just … And so I think we just need to understand that’s just not life. That’s not how it works. And the blank slate thing just gets us into a lot of trouble. And so what would it look like to actually take ownership over speaking life over your kids? But here’s the first step, and here’s what I’ll end with, is not only is this important, but you have to lean into the spirit. I think our job as parents is to go to the Lord on behalf of them, to plead with him, to talk to him, to seek his face on behalf of our kids. And if you’re not doing that, then, yeah, the naming and claiming of those roles won’t go well. But if you want your kids to flourish and become who they are created to be, I do think the Lord will give you words for your kids, pictures for your kids, and malleable, general directions that can be really, really helpful for your kids and for their flourishing.

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