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Barack Obama's Birth Order

Barack Obama

There's a good deal of misinformation circulating about President Barack Obama's birth order. This is understandable in light of the complex nature of his blended family (see, for example, the family tree chart below). CNN claimed he was a middle child. One birth order expert claimed he was a fourth child personalitywise. In fact, a close reading of his biography and an examination of the biographical facts reveals that, like most presidents, Barack Obama is actually a firstborn—at least where it matters most, that is, in terms of functional birth order. Functional birth order refers to the birth order that one has by virtue of the family constellation one grew up with. Put more simply, it means the birth order profile that has been imprinted upon a person because of the family they were raised in. It's the only type of birth order that matters when doing a psychological profile.

Barack Obama is a firstborn with a half-sister, Maya Kassandra Soetoro-Ng, nine years his junior. He spent a few years with her as a child. This would make him more of a quasi-only child than a firstborn since his sister is significantly younger and since he spent only a few years with her. A quasi-only child is a person who has more only child traits than traits from any other birth order.

The bottom line is that in terms of personality Barack Obama is a functional firstborn (an older brother of a sister) who also possesses many male only child traits.

In terms of psychology, Barack Obama also comes from a single-parent family and was raised for a while with a stepfather.

What does this say about his personality? The fact that he is a quasi-only child means he should have both first- and lastborn characteristics. Like most firstborns he should be conscientious, defensive, and have leadership traits. Like lastborns he should be affable, easygoing, and a good listener. Male only children are more career focused than any other birth order. They also get along with those in authority better than other people.

Barack Obama has a similar birth order to comedian Lenny Bruce, who was an only child raised by a single parent (his mother). The absence of a father often makes a child reject the status quo, become liberal, and turn to arts and creative endeavors. Many examples from the world of literature can be cited, including Balzac, D.H. Lawrence, George Orwell, and Ian Fleming, to name but a few male writers who either had an absent father or significant conflict with their male parent.

If you want to know more about your personality and your potential for romantic compatibility, consider ordering a personal birth order analysis by William Cane. An attorney and former professor at Boston College, he's the author of The Birth Order Book of Love. He has appeared on hundreds of TV and radio programs talking about his work, including Today, The View, and CBS This Morning. He teaches English at The City University of New York.

Barack Obama family tree

Key to image: Round = female, square = male. Horizontal lines that connect indicate marriages or unions that resulted in children. Lines ending in an arrow should be followed for connection with partner. Family tree used, with permission, from Dr. Zebra's Medical History of American Presidents.


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