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The Making of a Middle Child

Posted by on Dec. 8, 2009 at 7:52 AM
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I found this article in the Washington Post..  I agree with most of it however my middle child is not the loner by any means!  :)  What's your thought? 

The Making of My Middle Child

By Caitlin Murray Giles

How do you turn a gregarious, happy-go-lucky three year-old boy into a disgruntled, emotional wreck? It's simple really. Just add another baby to your family and make him a middle child. Then you can watch birth order stereotypes play out right under your own roof.

The birth of my third child in December 2008 brought many changes to our family. I knew that adding more kids meant that my husband and I were going to have to work harder to meet (or at least try to meet) everyone's needs. I anticipated that my two older kids would do what they had to do to get their fair share of attention. But I did not fully understand what this change would mean for my three year-old son. He went from being the doted-upon baby of our family to the middle child and he has quickly embraced his new role.

No offense to all of you middle children out there, but this is not a good thing.

When I googled "middle child personality traits," there was more bad news than good. Apparently, middle children never feel that they have their parent's undivided attention. They supposedly feel unloved, left out or "squeezed." A child that is the middle of three children may feel like life is unfair. He may become discouraged and think of himself as the "problem child." I even came across this tongue-in-cheek definition for something called “middle child syndrome:

"Middle child syndrome is often characterized by: lack of friends (a loner), inability to maintain relationships, extreme creativity (writing, music, art, etc.), an easy going personality, trouble choosing a career path, trouble maintaining a career, quick loss of interest in things, negative outlook on life, half-assing, and indecisiveness."

I mean, it's nice to be creative and easy going, but who wants an indecisive “half-asser” on their hands?

Psychologists and researchers disagree over whether birth order really has a lasting impact on personality development, but we can all cite anecdotal evidence that it does. My husband and I are both fairly stereotypical firstborns. Same goes for our first-born daughter.

My son just seems like a very different little boy since he became a middle. Before our new baby was born, he was predictably sweet and easy. Even his birth was easy (one push, thank you very much). He was a great eater and an even better sleeper. If I said put it down, or bring it to Mommy, or please hold my hand, or spit it out, he complied. He was happy to share his toys at play groups and freely gave out hugs and kisses.

Since becoming a middle, my little guy seems unsatisfied with his lot in life. He is grumpy. And he is trying to tell me in every possible way that he isn't getting what he needs. Sometimes he is literally screaming it -- like when he sits by himself on the living room floor surrounded by toys shouting, "WILL SOMEBODY PLEASE PLAY WITH ME!" Or when I ask him to talk quietly so he doesn't wake the baby and he screams, "I NO WANNA SHHHHHHH!" until he does in fact succeed in waking the baby. Other times the message is more subtle -- like when he overflows the bathroom sink for the twentieth time and waits for me to discover his handiwork, smiling from ear to ear.

Part of me thinks that all of this birth order talk is just silly. If he were our only child, would he be any different? Or maybe he is just a typical three year old exploring new behaviors, boundaries and moods. But other times it seems pretty obvious that the change in our family dynamics is responsible for the change in him.

Don't get me wrong -- this is still my sweet little boy -- baby, middle or whatever. And the kid is only three so I think it is too early to say whether he is going to have employment or relationship problems. But as much as I reassure myself that he gets all sorts of other benefits from having two siblings, I recognize that being sandwiched between an attention-hogging older sister and a needy baby brother is not such a great thing sometimes.

So for now, I am making more time for him and his toys on the living room floor, laying off the SHHHHishes, and looking forward to the time when it is my new baby overflowing the bathroom sink.

by on Dec. 8, 2009 at 7:52 AM
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by New Member on Dec. 9, 2009 at 5:03 PM

Well, there is another *check* in the "con" column in the debate over having a third...

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