Role of a child in the family: which of the four types are you?

Were you considered the responsible child while your younger brother or sister was the rebel or ‘Mummy’s little one’?


What's your family role?

There’s no right or wrong role of a child in the family. We’re all driven by different emotions and shaped by different experiences. Were you considered the responsible child while your younger brother or sister was the rebel or ‘Mummy’s little one’?

According to experts, we all played a specific role in our family as children; however, the role of a child in a family is not always within our control. Our role may be determined by 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. Understanding these silent family agreements can help us break longstanding behavioural patterns which can at times be disabling. Traditionally, there are four different roles for a child in a family:

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 a 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?

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