Before we get started, I wanted you to know that Facing Depression, my new course all about depression –  what causes it and what you can do about it – is available now, exclusively on Himalaya Learning. Himalaya Learning is an audio learning platform that provides an extensive library of courses straight to your ears from the world’s greatest minds like Malcolm Gladwell, Tim Ferriss, Seth Godin, and more. To listen to this course and others like it, go to and enter promo code OVERCOMING at checkout to get your first 14 days free. I hope to see you there!

In this episode of SelfWork, sponsored by Athletic Greens, we’re going to look into the facts about being an only child, about birth order in general, and about the parent/child fit or the role temperament plays in a parent/child relationship. I’ve had many a patient who said, “My mother never liked me.” Or, “It was obvious she was closer to my older sister.” Often recognizing that the fit between their temperaments, ranging from easy to not so easy, played a role in the past, eases the tension in the present, and helps both parent and adult child to establish a better relationship with one another.

One article (link below) outlined what you can do as a parent to understand the fit between your temperament and your child’s. And there are five steps:

1.) Identify your child’s temperament traits.  Notice how they interact with the world – what their temperament is.

2.) Describe what you are observing to the child.  This helps her learn about her behavior style, how to handle it, and what you expect from her, “You don’t like new places.  You like to watch until you feel comfortable.”

3.) Identify your own temperament traits.  Notice how they affect your behavior.

4.) Consider whether your temperamental traits and those of your child fit together easily.  If not, recognize any difficulties which the differences may cause.  For example, a parent who has low sensitivity has difficulty being patient with her high sensitivity child who can’t tolerate the feel of the tags on his shirts.

5.) Avoid criticizing or labeling your child with words such as forgetful, wild, fussy, quitter, shy.

The listener voicemail asks a question about how to handle a partner not being emotionally available. She asked it after listening to the episode on trauma bonding – but wanted to hear more as she herself had ended a relationship with a covert narcissist. She says, “I keep attracting people who aren’t emotionally supportive and I keep craving it when I know they can’t give it.” So I’ll answer her – what would you say?

Important Links:

Click this link to try Athletic Greens wonderful offer as a SelfWork Listener!

The work of Alfred Adler concerning birth order

The work of Toni Falbo, dispelling the myth of the “only child syndrome”

Emily Oster’s article on only children in The New York Times

Scientific American article on birth order

NIH article on temperament – survey of studies

What do you do to ensure a better parent/child fit? 

You can hear more about mental health and many other topics by listening to my podcast, SelfWork with Dr. Margaret Rutherford. Subscribe to my website and receive one weekly newsletter including my weekly blog post and podcast! If you’d like to join my FaceBook closed group, then click here and answer the membership questions! Welcome!

My book entitled Perfectly Hidden Depression has arrived and you can order here! Its message is specifically for those with a struggle with strong perfectionism or need for control which acts to mask underlying emotional pain. But the many self-help techniques described can be used by everyone who chooses to begin to address emotions, long hidden away, that are clouding and sabotaging your current life.

And there’s a new way to send me a message! You can record by clicking below and ask your question or make a comment. You’ll have 90 seconds to do so and that time goes quickly. By recording, you’re giving SelfWork (and me) permission to use your voice on the podcast. I’ll look forward to hearing from you!

Photo courtesy of Pexels.

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